Working From Home 101
Working from home has been a way of life for me for the majority of my 14-year professional career. However, I realize it’s not something many people are accustomed to. In fact, I can’t even begin to number the amount of memes and posts I’ve seen that describe (playfully or otherwise) the struggle they’ve had working from home due to COVID-19 measures that many companies are implementing.
Since working from home is a new reality for a lot of people – at least for another couple of weeks – I thought I’d take the time to write up some tips that you can find hopeful as well.
Intention is Everything (Circadian Rhythm)
Circadian rhythm is something that typically is associated with sleep. For those if you that aren’t aware of what it is – it’s essentially a 24-hour internal clock that your brain uses to cycle between when you should feel asleep or alert.
A large factor that impacts circadian rhythm is intention – or in other words, the thoughts you entertain prior to an event. For example, if it’s Sunday afternoon, and you begin to lament the fact that the work week starts tomorrow, entertaining and ruminating on those thoughts sets up a biological clock to create specific chemicals for when your alarm goes off the following morning. Those chemicals will generate a lack of motivation, focus and desire to work. Your Monday will therefore “suck.”
On the other side of the coin we’ve all experience a sensation of being sleepy during the day, but being excited about an event that will happen later that evening. Despite being fatigued, if our intention is to attend that event, and our thoughts mirror a healthy excitement about it, we will suddenly feel energized when the moment comes to get ready and leave for whatever that event may be.
So my question for you is…what is your intention? What thoughts are you entertaining regarding working from home during this time? Do you see this as free time? Do you ruminate about the lack of production or resources you have? Entertaining corrosive or negative thoughts will deplete your ability to wake up motivated to work, inhibiting your ability to be creative in finding solutions for whatever it may be you’re working on.
I would invite you to have an honest reflective moment about how you perceive the situation. This is the foundation to being effective – not just at working from home, but really anything in life.
Maintain Your Schedule
Speaking of intent, maintaining your schedule is critical. If you’re used to waking up at 6:30 am, continue to do so. If you’re used to working out before going to work, please keep up that routine.
Obviously you’ll have to adapt due to what many companies are doing due to social distancing – however you don’t have to go to the gym to get a good workout. Neither do you have to go to Starbuck’s to get coffee. If you’re used to walking the kids to school, try walking with them around the block; even if they’re not awake go for walk around the block on your own. Comb your hair and dress up for the day – doesn’t have to be in the suit and tie or even jeans and polo – but maintain your professionalism. The important thing here is to continue with whatever normalcy you can so that you can start your workday on the right foot.
Again, this all revolves around intention. If you see it as an opportunity to sleep in, your brain will create chemicals that make your body feel like it’s a day off or the weekend, and the level of alertness required to start the day off right will be impacted.
Conference Call – Etiquette and Tips
A couple of quick items of etiquette when it comes to conference calls:
Put Yourself on Mute – many of us have kids at home, roommates or animals that can make all kinds of noises in the background. If you’re not speaking, put yourself on mute. I would even advise putting yourself on mute right when you hop on a call, and then unmute whenever you want or need to make a comment.
Let Others Know – if you’re going to be on an important call, let your family, roommates or others know. Let them know what time the call is ahead of time, how long it will last, etc. Invite them to do the same thing with you and their calls. This has proven extremely effective with my family. I’m married with 5 kids…yes you read that correctly, 5 kids between the ages of 11 and 1. I’ve found that when you treat people, even children with respect, and help them understand why you’re asking them to try to be as quiet as possible or avoid a certain part of the house or apartment during a time frame, they tend to do pretty well, especially when you do this in an empathetic way, and not in a controlling, “do this or else” kind of a way.
Be Open/Honest – that said…there are times when my kids argue or unnecessarily scream or cry while I’m talking on the phone. This used to embarrass me a bit – especially when I was on an external call with a prospective or existing client…until I realized I could let people know right at the beginning of calls my situation with kids, and that if they hear someone screaming in the background, I could ensure them nobody was dying. It always gets a laugh out of someone, and usually a large boost of empathy that disarms the situation. In fact, often times they’ll tell me of similar situations they are in, either because of their own kids or pets. Also – if this is new for you, let people know…feel free to let them know that you’re not setup with a home office because you typically work from the office. Trust that most people are good, understanding individuals that will empathize with you when you open up.
Cameras – I used to hate them…but now I like them. If you use a system like Google Hangouts or GoToMeeting that allows you to enable cameras, use them for your calls. That’s probably not appropriate for large company wide meetings, but definitely for ones where you’re having a one on one or team based meetings. When it comes to external meetings, I’d still recommend opening up your camera so the other person can see you. I wouldn’t force them to do the same, but at least they can see your face and have that connection with you that way…and if your child walks behind you to grab a blank sheet of paper for coloring – it is perfectly okay! Just remember to tell your audience up front of what may happen…again – it will build an incredible amount of rapport because you are being vulnerable and transparent.
These are just a few ideas that I wanted to put out there to help those who may feel a bit insecure or unsure about how to work from home. If you have any additional ideas, feel free to comment below.
Guest post written by Jacob Balanzategui, Principle Sales Executive at Zego.
Connect with Jacob on LinkedIn or via email: email@example.com