And don’t forget to wash your hands! It’s so elementary, isn’t it? Yet it’s the thing everyone is saying right now: on media outlets, the punchlines of jokes, even the occasional email signature. Keep your distance. Don’t touch your face. Wash your hands.
As someone who has been working remotely for over eight years, this is almost business as usual for me. I am fortunate enough to work for a company designed to enable remote working and focused on helping companies with remote workers. But not everyone else has that experience or has been able to have that opportunity. Now they have to work from home and may not quite know how to go about it. If you’re part of that group, I want to take a moment to share some best practices, just like washing your hands, and ensure you can keep things going as you normally would in your office.
If you get up every morning, shower, put on your nice clothes and have a typical routine, keep it going. Working from home full-time should not feel like a break from normalcy or a reason to not care about your appearance or the things that you would do otherwise. Treat each day just as you would if you went to an office. Think of it this way: nothing changed other than the fact that you don’t have a commute.
Working from home full-time can be a trap if you don’t have a schedule. Perhaps you work in a job that is very reactive and you are used to being in an office to provide you something to react to. Put your calendar together and keep things going. If you let little things sneak in, like playing with Rover, doing laundry, cleaning a room or doing dishes… it’s easy for the day to get away from you. If it’s not something you would do in the office, try not to do it while working from home.
Do not go find the friend you know you will joke around with the whole time. Find the friends that challenge you and invest 15 minutes each day with them to simply talk about what you accomplished yesterday and what you will accomplish today. Celebrate your wins. It’s similar to a daily scrum meeting, but just not on a project team. We have friends at work that push us to be better and will hold us accountable. Those are the ones you want for this. It’s also okay to do this with a group of peers in a small team environment just as easily.
Whether it’s GTM, Zoom, Highfive, Slack, FaceTime or any other software, find a way to be looking at your peers and your customers. We all can lead by example. Show your face. Let others know current circumstances are not negatively impacting your day. It’s also important to know how to use the technology, so practice with your peers first. I repeat, practice with your peers FIRST! Remember:
My first piece of advice was to stick to your morning routine. Well, you suddenly do not have a commute to or from work. If your commute is one hour each way, you have ten additional hours in your work week. Do you want to work during those hours? Or do you want to spend that time doing something not work-related. That’s entirely your call, and I recommend doing what works for you.
You can give some of that time to your job. Plan the next day. Take the time to learn more about something you’re not well-versed in. And you can invest some of it in yourself. Pick up self-help books. Get some exercise in. Start meditation. If you have ten hours back and give five hours to getting more accomplished, that still leaves you in a better place. Can you imagine what those other five hours invested in yourself can do for you? Again, there’s no right or wrong answer here. Do what works for you. Just make sure it all clicks and makes sense.
This is a different time. None of us has been through anything like it. It’s important to remember everyone will have their own reactions and their own feelings about our current situation. Collectively, we should all be supportive of each other. But we should also continue to have fun in what we do. Lead by example. Keep things as normal as possible. It will set you apart.
I’ve seen people come to video conferences in beach attire, sunglasses, Hawaiian shirts, full suits. I’ve also seen some messes: people without shirts on right, leaving things unbuttoned, forgetting people can see them and picking noses. So, the experience can vary based on your preparedness. Remember, working from home is just like working from an office – except the commute is removed, and, in some cases, kids may be in the background screaming or making faces. And that is totally fine!
We are all human and we all have our own situations. Embrace it and share your life with the world while working remote. Lead by example and keep as much of your day as “business as usual” as possible. Have some fun! Make new bonds with other team members that perhaps you didn’t always see in the office. Be the smile that brightens someone’s day by being ready every step of the way as a remote employee.