With the Coronavirus pandemic reaching new heights, social distancing is something that is being suggested to contain the spread of the disease. If this is being suggested now, it could become one of the new norms for the months ahead. What this means for businesses is that employee travel into the office may be something of the past very soon. But if you have never worked from home, how can you successfully comply professionally with the social distancing due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) without hurting your work output?
At The Go! Agency our employees are on a rotating schedule which allows them to work remotely on a regular basis. It is a great way to motivate as well as mix things up to keep our approach fresh and the flow of ideas consistent. This usually happens after 3 months of work, and when we switch an employee to an in-office and remote schedule, we empower our employees and set them up for success.
Over the past 10 years we have seen what works and what doesn’t and see many of the same pitfalls hit again and again. So, in the times of social distancing, Coronavirus, and working from your home office, my team urged me to share the 5 Point System that we use internally in order for you to be successful in your remote work from your home office for the days and weeks ahead.
Point #1. Make Sure You Have the Right Tools
Take a look around your office and desk. What items do you use every day? What items do you never need? This can be everything from obvious items (computer, keyboard, mouse, reference files) to items you may forget (mousepad, back support pillow, stress ball, books you refer to).
To ensure you are able to jump right in, make sure that your home office has all of the comforts of your actual office.
Also, don’t forget the basics: pads, pencils, pens, post-it-notes, or any other normal office supplies that you may not have access to at home. Finally – don’t forget those physical client files (or important files) that you may need. Anything that is important and not available digitally should be taken with you.
Point #2. Make Sure You Have the Right Setting
Now we need to move over to your home office. In the best-case scenario you will have a room that you can dedicate to your office preferably with a door. This is important if you need privacy (odds are that you won’t be the only one at home with social distancing hitting schools and many workplaces at once). This will help you keep distractions at bay and enable you to have phone and video calls (which will probably increase during this time) uninterrupted.
You may also want to get a sign or a symbol to put on the closed door when on an important call so that your family or housemates don’t barge in. While your home office doesn’t need to be dedicated to a full room (if you are trapped for space), make sure that you are somewhere that keeps you out of the main traffic flow and keeps distractions at a minimum.
What I always tell my staff is that you should NEVER work on the couch, sitting with a laptop resting on your thighs. You should create a work environment that mirrors your current one. If you are sitting at a desk, make sure that you have a desk and chair friendly environment at home.
This will help you easily stay focused. Key words of wisdom: working from bed or couch (both places your mind associates with rest) and you will struggle to stay focused.
Point #3. Make Sure You Have the Right Access
As The Go! Agency is a marketing and sales agency, we need to have login access to hundreds of different accounts and services. My guess is that you probably do as well. What you may not think about when you are scrambling to prepare is that like many professionals, you may have saved your passwords (to Google Chrome or the browser you are using) so that when you go to a particular site, you are already logged in. This will not be the case at home.
Also, for some sites (especially Google or social media related services) if you are logging in from a different location (which they pick up using your IP address) you may get locked out of your account as a security precaution. So before you work from home officially for an extended period, try logging into all of the sites that you use from home to make sure you have the ability – and if you can’t log in, troubleshoot them from the office as soon as you can.
I also like to have a printed list of passwords as well, just in case. If you do decide to do this – make sure that you are truly careful with this precious info! And don’t forget your wi-fi! You need to ensure that you have the right bandwidth to handle your daily tasks.
Point #4. Make Sure You Limit Distractions
Are you watching Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ at work? Listening to music on blast? Then don’t do it at home when you are social distancing. Again, try to mimic the environment that you have at the office. Do you have a good view of the pool?
Sounds like a serene place to set your desk…if your family is not playing in the pool and making a ruckus. Do you work with your dog on your lap at the office?
Then don’t do it at home to start off. This is where really sticking to a solid routine comes in.
Point #5. Make Sure You Are Working From Work, Not On Your Home
When you are in the office you have a very specific routine, right? You get in, power on your computer, go make yourself a cup of coffee, chat with employees about a project, and strategize. So when working from home during this time of social distancing, you should not start your day by having a conference call while making your breakfast and folding laundry.
Do not alter your routine too much, and keep to your normal schedule. The beauty here is that you will have extra time in the morning, evening, and your lunch hour.
This is where you can be productive and start executing work-life balance. Grab a workout. Clean up the kitchen. Play with your pet. Just make sure that you are still clocking in and clocking out when you are puttering around the house.
Distractions to routine can really hurt your effectiveness at the task at hand and sometimes make your work hours a bit skewed.
By following this 5 point system, as well as having a talk with your loved ones to create boundaries, you will be able to mirror your office success at home so that you can continue to get your work done while practicing social distancing. If you have any questions about anything above or would like more tips, please reach out. During this sensitive time, we all need to help one another not only survive, but thrive in the face of adversity.