With the shelter in place initiatives sweeping the nation and many employers shifting their teams to virtual work, there are bound to be stumbling blocks. Since I’m out in Kansas, I’ve been a 100% virtual employee at Viewpath for almost 9 years and the rest of our team in Seattle was previously about a 60/40 split, which means the transition for us has been pretty smooth. We already had our communication tools in place and I thought I would share some of the things that have worked for us, and some of the adjustments we’ve made in the last few weeks as well.
First and foremost – don’t stress out when your kid walks into your space with a question during your call. Everyone with kids is in the same position, and no one is (or should be) judging you. Most of the time, your kid probably get grins and waves from the computer screen, which they will probably think is pretty cool. Let your kids listen to your calls if appropriate. Sometimes you can get some interesting conversations going about what you do and how and why you do it.
Find a Space
Because I was already 100% remote, I have a dedicated office, with doors I can close if needed. But a lot of people will need to get creative, whether it’s your dining table, your sofa, or your bedroom (so you can close the door!) you need to find a space to set up. My husband and two kids who are both in college are all working from home. While I offered to share my office, my husband opted to set up in the basement because he said there was too much going on in the rest of the house for him to be able to focus. So he’s hanging out in the dark space, set up on an old dining table we’re saving for my daughter’s apartment. Doing all her college classes from home, said daughter has claimed the upstairs dining table and the other daughter has holed up in her room for her classes. Make sure your family knows when you’re in your designated office space, you are working. It won’t eliminate interruptions, but it will help minimize them. Having a good pair of noise cancelling headphones helps with distractions as well.
The irony of our His/Hers spaces:
Follow a Routine
Working from home requires more diligence as it is easy to get distracted...by the laundry, the dogs, the delivery driver (that my dogs are barking at). Start by following the same routine as if you were going into the office. Do your workout, shower and get dressed for the day so that you’re ready to go to work at your usual time. Even if you’re putting on a new pair of leggings for the day, it helps to get your mind set for work because you’re still completing the routine you’re familiar with.
Part of following a routine also means defining your time. Setup a work schedule (one that is reasonable!). The lines can often blur when you’re working from home. By focusing your time into blocks, you’ll be more efficient and you’ll know when it’s time to turn it off and go spend time with your family, read a book, or watch some TV. When you have a designated workspace, and a routine, you know you’re off the clock when you are outside that workspace and after hours.
In my next post, I’ll cover some of the specific tools available to help you communicate well with your co-workers. In the meantime, stay safe!