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How to Work From Home (Keep Your Sanity) and Stay Productive

Due to the COVID-19 State of Emergency, there’s a good chance you’re going to be working from home for the next several weeks. If the home environment isn’t what you’re used to, it can be a challenge to remain productive and positive during an already difficult time.

As a Digital Sales Strategist at Enradius, I take full advantage of our company’s “work from anywhere” culture and often find a unique coffee spot or coworking space to keep me inspired.  But in the very busy day to day, most of the time, I’m at home. It’s business as usual for us, so to help you get through it, here are some of mine and my coworkers’ tips on how to thrive when working from home.

Have a morning routine before you start working– It can be easy to want to sleep in as late as possible then get up 5 minutes before you start working.  No commute must mean more sleep. But this can lead to burn out and that common feeling that you can’t escape work. 

The best thing to do is make sure to have a routine that gives some time in between getting out of bed and starting your workday.  It can be exercise, gardening, cleaning, or just sitting outside to enjoy your coffee. Give yourself at least a half hour transition to go from home to work. It’s also a good idea to avoid your email and social media during this time.

Get dressed and put on your shoes– There’s a misconception that people who work from home are in their pajamas all day. But the best way to go from home mode to a productive work mode is to get dressed.  It especially helps to put your shoes on to get you into the work mindset. It’s the best advice another remote worker has ever given me and really changed how I could transform my relaxing home into an office.

Have a designated office space in the house- This one really depends on your family size and job type. Enradius Social Media Strategist Tav recommends, “if you have kids and pets in the house, take the time to set up a home office that has a door you can shut. Open floor plans are great until you have to make a client call and your kids are fighting behind you.” While most clients are patient with hearing barking dogs or chatty kids over the phone (especially now with kids home from school), it’ll still hurt your concentration and focus.  

Even if you’re the only one home, having a designated home office still helps keep things organized and is a good way to separate work life from home life so you can “leave” at the end of the day. But I like to move my laptop around the house, so I am not sitting in the same spot each day. I just make sure to not work in my bedroom or living room which are my “home” spaces, which brings me to the next tip.

Keep the bedroom door shut and the TV off- Unless space is limited, your bedroom is not your office. Your bed will call your name.  That 10-minute power snooze will turn into a 2 hour nap fest. It’s just too tempting. I try to save working from bed for snow days and rainy Mondays. I try to stay out of the living room as well. You may get the urge to catch an episode of your latest binge obsession during your lunch break but it’s very hard to get back in to work mode once the TV goes on and very easy to get sucked into five hours of Handmaid’s Tale, and then your entire afternoon is gone. 

Some people like to have the TV on for background noise. This all depends on your job type. Ask Alexa for a good podcast instead.

Work outside of 9-5- This is the main benefit and reward to remote work.  If your company allows, explore working at different times other than 9-5 depending on when you are most creative and productive.  I tend to work 10:00-4:00 for client communication tasks, and then again for a few hours in the late evening for more creative work like marketing, prospecting, or proposal creation. But it varies. I am most productive when I follow my own internal creative clock. There is no point in staring at your screen for nine hours straight if it’s going to cause you to zone out. Find what times work for you and give yourself permission to take a break to run errands, get your exercise, or do other things in your community that you enjoy and want to participate in.  Just make sure to be accessible to your manager and clients most of the day during business hours.

For Managers: If you’re a manager this may give you some anxiety if you need to be accountable for your team’s production. There’s a huge misconception that telecommuters don’t really do get much done and I often hear the question “how do you know they are actually working?”  I’ve seen remote workers with computer devices that enable their managers to monitor their computer movements and record things like when their chat goes idle or screensaver comes on. That type of micromanaging can’t be healthy. It’s about the amount that gets done, not the minutes online.

Our VP of Operations, Kristen, gives this tip to properly managing a team when everyone is remote:

“Process and communication is key to working remotely. Each member of the team has very clear responsibilities but are also capable of handling anyone else’s. We chat daily and have monthly virtual meetings to address any concerns and stay up to speed with what’s going on with everyone.  There is a lot of experience and knowledge on this operations team which definitely makes it much easier for us to work remotely.”

The company also uses an arsenal of tools to keep in communication and keep the process flowing such as Trello, Slack, and Google Docs.

 

Tools:

Slack- www.slack.comA communication tool that allows you to send direct messages or make online calls to your colleagues either individually or in group chats. It also allows you to set up ongoing conversation channels where you can invite all or different team members as needed. Outside clients or consultants can also be included.

Uber Conference- www.uberconference.comA free conference call tool that lets you hold conference calls for up to 10 participants. There is also free screen sharing and call recording. There is also a paid business version if you need to make longer calls with more participants or international calls.

Google Drive/ Google Docs- www.drive.google.com  / www.docs.google.com  – We utilize Drive and Docs as a team to store and share files and work collaboratively on documents.

Trello- www.trello.comA team project management software helps track the status of multiple projects to stay organized and prioritized. 

Hey Taco!-  www.heytaco.chatEnradius loves Hey Taco! This is a fun Slack plugin that we use for peer recognition and rewards.  Did a coworker go above and beyond for you or the team? Did they do a great job on that project? Or were they just there for you when you needed help? Reward them with virtual tacos which they can cash in for rewards like gift cards, event tickets, and even an HSA deposit! Your company decides together how you want to cash in your tacos. The best part is it brings the team together when you’re working remotely. 

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