In light of the current global crisis, you are likely experiencing a feeling of losing control of many aspects of your personal and professional life.
With these helpful tips, we aim to give you back the first puzzle piece of control to foster happiness and productivity for you and the key team members you’ve retained.
Suddenly, you need to face new challenges at home in between the chaos of last week’s laundry, your family members or flatmates, and the expectation to keep up your level of productivity that you used to maintain while working from an office.
Rest assured, you are not alone in this.
Over the last couple of weeks, many practice owners and their staff needed to replace the familiarity of their offices with their living rooms and kitchens turning their professional lives upside down.
Chances are, you have enough problems on your plate already besides also needing to deal with the challenges associated with working from home.
Here are our top 8 tips that we’ve adopted here at LiveseySolar on how to work from home successfully. Use these tips to keep you and your team effective while working from home:
- Stick to the same working hours every day
- Dress as if you were going to work
- Set up a dedicated workspace and make it free of clutter
- Over-communicate – leave no room for misunderstandings
- Take enough breaks and use this time to give your brain time to relax
- Don’t forget meals and drink enough water
- Use music or white noise to block out sounds and increase concentration
- Connect with your team inside and outside of work via Skype or Zoom
1. Find a routine that separates your work life from your personal life
Commuting to and from your office twice a day has a more significant effect on you than just emptying your wallet on transport costs. It gave your body and mind valuable transition time in which you were able to get ready to face the challenges of the day in the morning and let go of them at night.
While working from home, you need to make sure to find a new routine that allows your mind to transition from your personal life into your work life – and back. Sticking to the same hours every day can function as a framework for what we call “the Boredom Phase”.
Set up a morning routine and a shutdown routine to signal your body and mind when it’s time to be productive – and when to close your laptop and call it a day.
Our morning routine at LiveseySolar includes a daily huddle over Zoom that ensures our team is well informed about upcoming tasks, news and priorities for the day. We use this time to uncover bottlenecks in our pipeline and celebrate wins.
2. Communication is key
Every great team, regardless of profession, has one thing in common: they are pros at communicating.
This skill is now more important than ever. Misunderstandings and tasks getting forgotten or lost along the way are significantly more likely to happen while working remotely.
Team leaders can prevent this by being crystal clear on what a task or project includes and which team members are assigned to complete, review and approve these jobs.
Encourage your team to actively over-communicate and to not suffer in silence. Asking questions, reporting technical difficulties, acknowledging messages and openly discussing concerns or problems will make it easier for everyone to overcome challenges quickly and avoid errors due to misunderstandings.
3. Give yourself and your eyes clear breaks
Ophthalmologists recommend to look up from your screen at least every 20 minutes, and gaze at least 20 metres away for 20 seconds. We aim to follow that advice.
Some of our team members have successfully implemented the Pomodoro-method into their daily routine. This time-management technique encourages you to take a short 5-minute break after 25 minutes of work time. After four cycles, your break will be 10 minutes. This tool makes it easy.
Just as important as making time to give your mind and eyes some downtime is the activity you choose to do at rest during this time.
Scrolling through social media on your phone or simply opening up a new tab to check the latest COVID-19 updates will hardly give you the pause you need to return to your tasks with renewed energy and motivation.
Instead, try to stay away from technical devices for this short time. Take a walk, do some minor household chores (those dishes can easily stack up!) or try out simple stretching exercises to wake your body up and get your blood flowing after a long time of sitting down. If you have a pet, take the time to cuddle it – it’s a proven stress-reducer.
4. Use music or white noise to block out sounds and increase concentration
You’ve perfected your daily routine, actively work against misunderstandings with your team and you’ve managed the perfect balance of screen-time and off-screen breaks.
But now your partner is watching the new series on Netflix on full volume right next to your work space. Or, your children are singing their hearts out to their favourite Disney films, and you’ve internally waved goodbye to your focus-zone.
A great way to block out distracting noise are playlists that contain Alpha Waves or white noise for deep concentration. Plug those headphones into your laptop or phone and work comfortably without the need to send warning looks to the people around you as soon as they enter the room.
5. Work expands to fill the time available for its completion
This is Parkinson’s Law.
We all have those days where the workload doesn’t seem to get smaller, no matter how much we get done. And while it’s sometimes necessary to work late nights or the weekend to complete important projects on time, it shouldn’t be the rule.
While scheduling your daily tasks, try to not give yourself too much time for finishing them. With the amount of free time you currently have inside of your home, it’s easy to postpone your work responsibilities to a later time. This not only leads to overall less productivity but also gives more room for distractions to happen.
Little rewards at the end of your day or week help to keep your motivation high because you are working towards a set goal. Those goodies can be anything from making it in time to your favourite Instagram live workout at 6 PM or joining your family or flatmates for a movie night.
6. Become a pro at virtual meetings
Just because meetings are now happening digitally and inside of your four walls doesn’t make them less important. Whether you are Skyping a teammate or meeting patients on Zoom, it’s beneficial to both ends if you take the time to prepare before your video appointment.
Have a glass of water nearby, make sure your headphones are plugged in or connected to your device and prepare a piece of paper or a planner to take notes during your meeting. Typing on your keyboard and switching between the video chat and other windows can be distracting to your concentration and frustrating your meeting partner’s patience. Place your laptop or computer on a steady surface or use a tripod for your phone.
Let your family members or flatmates know before your meeting starts. This way, they will try to keep their volume down and are not going to interrupt the meeting by asking you what kind of pasta you want for lunch. A practical method is sticking a red post-it note at the back of your chair or laptop as a “do-not-disturb” signal to others.
Remember, the environment around us doesn’t only affect your own work-life but also shapes the way others see us. If your background doesn’t exude professionalism, your meetings may lack credibility. The good news is, you don’t need to start rearranging the furniture. With virtual Zoom backgrounds, you can feel confident knowing that your background isn’t letting your virtual appointment down. You’ll maintain the same privacy and professionalism as you would at your clinic.
Remember, this too shall pass.
If you accept this challenge as an opportunity for growth and take the time to turn an improvised emergency solution into your new normal, chances are you are going to come out the other side calmer, wiser and with a stronger team at hand.
Know too, that the better your team adapts to working remotely today, the better prepared they’ll be for the new normal, when working-from-home for many might just be “working”.