It has been more than three months since Canadians have been working from home. We have now had more than 90 days to adapt to a new working environment and we’ve learned a few things along the way.
Most of us now know to use the mute button during video conferences and that it’s best to book meetings around our little one’s nap schedules. And we’ve been providing the same level of client service while juggling personal obligations.
We all miss our beautiful office space with the constant hum of brainstorming, eruptions of laughter, and having Alison (our president) shout out RARs (Random Acts of Recognition) to those being recognized by their peers. But seeing as we are settling into new routines and getting used to this new normal, I can offer some tips I’ve picked up along this three month journey on how to effectively work from home.
Stay on schedule. One of the biggest challenges of working from home is maintaining a good work/life balance. It’s very easy for work to creep into morning and night where you are constantly checking your email on your phone and bringing your laptop out of hibernation to quickly check if you have any messages or Teams conversations on the go. So, my first tip is to keep regular “office hours”. Also:
o Don’t sign-in until you have showered and had your coffee or breakfast.
o Step away for lunch. It’s beautiful outside so go for a quick walk.
o Sign off at night and put your computer away.
Furniture can make or break productivity…and your back. While some have the room for a separate office, others are forced to create a makeshift work area. No matter where your nook is, feeling comfortable is vital. Some of our staff have created DIY standing desks at their kitchen counters, while others have doubled up on plants and desk accessories. We also delivered everyone’s ergonomic work chairs to their homes.
Give some thought to your virtual background. Video conferencing will remain a popular way to communicate both internally and with clients. When setting yourself up for a call, show off your personality with a unique background, like a sign or piece of art displayed in your home. Don’t forget to avoid direct sunlight behind you, or it will distort your video quality.
Schedule calls and keep in touch. It’s good to have some structure to your day. If you don’t have calls on your schedule, schedule some conversations with teammates. In addition, call others on the team frequently to bounce ideas off them, or just touch base on how things are going.
Move around. Without trips to the proverbial water cooler or meeting room, you end up sitting all day! Get up and move around. Phone calls can be a good chance to move away from the computer. Try wearing your ear buds and do calls on the move either walking around the house or outside. I’ve even tried doing a call on a bike ride!
Try not to multitask too much. It’s really tempting to look at email or keep working on a project when you are on a video call. I’ve even seen people looking at their phones and not engaging in what is being talked about (sadly this happens in face-to-face meetings as well). Since your active calls are few and far between, make sure to be present and really pay attention.
Lastly, have some fun with your colleagues. Take time throughout the day to do something that brings you joy. For our staff, that ranges from sharing funny videos to playing with a beloved pet or even just calling a colleague to reminisce. We also gather every Thursday with a drink in hand to catch up with one another. It’s important to remember that while we’re all working solo at home, we are still in this together.
We can’t wait until we can all reunite (safely) in our office again, but until then, I’ll see you on Teams.