Thursday, April 2, 2020

Working from Home

If you are one of the many folks that are suddenly trying to do your job from home, I’d like to take a moment to pass on some things I’ve learned. I’ve been working from home for years. It’s a different mindset. A couple of things I’ve found that might help you deal with this change:
Stay focused. You can get a lot more done at home then in the office. There isn’t the office politics to deal with which give you more time to do your job. On the flip side the job can take over your life. Set yourself hours for work and stick to it. 
Use technology. There is Skype, Zoom, Teams and other programs that can let you connect coworkers and of course your phone. On a gig recently a coworker would typically call me in the morning and he and I would stay on the phone for an hour or more. Not always talking but it was like he was next to me at the office. We could talk about what we were doing and the typical chit-chat. 
Don’t watch TV while working. Some folks can do this, but really its not good. You’ll get less done and feel like you're rushed when you realize you didn’t get such-and-such done. Some music for background noise is likely better and less distracting. 
Eat meals like you would going to an office or job site. Have a breakfast before you start, minimize snacking and have a dedicated lunch time. This keeps you on schedule and like is better for your health then just snaking all the time. 
Get up and move around now and then. Doing a simple domestic task once in a while to help break up the day a bit is good. Or just walk about and check for the mail. Don’t get into a big project, like cleaning the bathroom or painting a room. You wouldn’t do that when at the office or work site so don’t do that when you’re working. 
If you are the manger of folks that are now working from home, you may have the hardest adjustment. This is complex and totally different way to manage folks. In a nutshell you have to trust that they are doing their job. Lording over them and calling them every minute and checking their status on Skype or whatever is a great way to drive them and you crazy. 
Set up scheduled status calls, keep them short. Give them assignments to do and realistic deadlines. Help them with the technology, as best you can get them things they need. For example, having more than one monitor can really boost performance for folks doing a lot of computer-based work. Be open to help them, be it you actually helping them get something done or helping them find the resources they need to get something done. 
Your management skills will really be tested in ways you’ve never imagined. I’ve managed remote teams and it’s a challenge. Hopefully your team will be in the same time zone, that helps a lot. 
Good luck!