Even with the current vaccine rollouts throughout the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic is still far from over. People who have experienced working from home (WFH) and its many benefits are now reluctant to return to their offices, with most of them preferring full time remote work or as part of a hybrid setup.
For those who are still struggling with WFH, it is a simple matter of adopting certain practices for WFH so that you can work efficiently and productively while maintaining connections with people in the office as well as in your professional network.
Here’s a list of the Top 10 Best Practices that you need to inculcate in other to WFH successfully.
1) Choose your best WFH station.
Before you even start working from home, you should decide where you can establish your WFH station. Ideally, your WFH station should be an extra room in your house with a door so that you cannot be disturbed or distracted while working. Another option is if you have a large, spacious closet. If you are using a family WiFi, then the room should be situated where you can receive a strong signal.
In the absence of an extra room, you can choose a quiet corner of your house in which you can set up a small cubicle. Otherwise, you can opt to go to your favorite café or a library.
2) Let your WFH station officially be your office.
Once you have your WFH station set up, then act as if you are in an office. This means, reverting back to your usual office habits. You can start doing this by getting your WFH clothes ready the night before. The next day, resume your morning routine. After getting up from bed, you can wash up a bit and then go out for a morning run or walk. When you get back, eat breakfast and drink a cup of coffee. Once you’re done cleaning up, get dressed and go to your WFH station. Check your emails for any work assignments or other important communications from your boss and co-workers.
By establishing a morning routine, it will be easier for you to get into a productive mindset for your work day.
3) Set schedules and strictly follow them.
Make it a point to set schedules for both work and personal activities. Start by marking the hours that you start and end work. During this period, allot blocks of time to work assignments. Determine how long you can finish these tasks. You can use a timer to help you ensure that you meet your time target. You should also include short breaks, aside from the regular coffee and lunch breaks. Use the Pomodoro technique to better improve your concentration and productivity. You can do this by working 20 to 30 minutes straight on a task and then taking a short break of five to 10 minutes. Check off every task you complete.
One importance of setting schedules is that you build a habit of accountability not only for yourself, but also for your teammates who can follow your example. Share your daily schedules with your boss/manager and fellow remote workers. If people know the tasks that you have scheduled for the day, the greater is the likelihood that you will be able to complete them on or before the end of the day.
4) Always check your network connections and tech.
Make it a regular practice to check all your tech. You can start by checking your network speed. If your home network is slower than that in the office, you need to switch Internet plans or providers. For a faster connection, have the Internet connected directly to your computer instead of using WiFi (which tends to be slower). If you are using your Internet connection with your family, look for ways by which you will receive the faster speed. For example, streaming videos from Netflix, Disney+ and similar channels can slowdown your network speed. Rather than have your kids stream videos, consider downloading them instead and then upload the movie or TV show to their iPad or other device.
Now that you’ve got your Internet connection fixed, make sure that you have all the software needed for WFH. Aside from security software, you should have communication software installed, such as Zoom, Skype, Slack, and Teams. Video conferencing tools are particularly important so that you remain visible to your boss and co-workers.
5) Make sure you look good on video conferencing.
Speaking of visibility, you might want to check if your tech can help you to look good during Zoom meetings. Don’t just rely on the built-in webcam of your laptop. Consider getting an external webcam and position it on top of your computer so that your whole face is visible on screen. Place a lamp with a soft white lamp behind your computer and focus it on your face. Don’t forget to check your sound as well. Use headphones with a headset so you can listen clearly to people in the meeting. If your voice is not coming in clear to your boss and co-workers, you may need to use an external microphone as well.
Last but not least, make sure that you are dressed well for the meeting and clean up any clutter behind you. If you don’t want people to see your house, setup a virtual background. Just make sure that it is not distracting.
6) Check your written communication skills.
Obviously, you will not be spending most of your time on video conferences, so you need to brush up on your written communication skills as well.
There are two aspects of WFH that require good writing skills. The first is proper documentation. You may find yourself dealing with a lot of paperwork. However, documentation also involves being able to report on the tasks that you have accomplished, any challenges that you are facing, any improvements that need to be done, etc. This type of documentation is usually done after completion of a projects.
The second aspect is basic communication using messaging tools such as Slack, Messenger, and many more. In these cases, you should learn how to communicate messages briefly and direct to the point. If the matter needs to be discussed at length, simply drop a line like “Got a sec?” to inform the other party that you need to talk through chat or video.
7) Improve Your WFH Visibility
There is a nagging fear especially among those who have worked in an office for most of their lives that WFH might lead to their employers “forgetting” about them so that they get by-passed for a much-anticipated promotion or, worse, ultimately get laid off.
If you are harboring such fears, then you need to improve your WFH visibility. At the start of every work week, inform your boss/manager and co-workers what you will be working on. Consider sharing with them your work schedule so that they will know the best times to contact you.
If you are using Slack, always set it to “I’m available” when you’re at your work station. Make it a point to reply to questions and requests promptly.
At the end of the work week, consider sharing your accomplishments with your co-workers and encourage them to do the same in order to boost morale. Check in with your boss/manager and ask “Am I meeting your expectations?” or “Are you getting what you need from me?” Questions like these demonstrate how much you value your work and recognize the need for improvement.
8) Connect with fellow remote workers
You can have a harmonious working relationship with co-workers even while WFH. Whenever you receive a call from a co-worker, don’t just dive directly into business. Chat a bit. Ask how they’re doing, their plans for the weekend, how’s their family, etc. You not only get to know your co-workers better, but you also show how much you value their personal well-being and that of their family. For a more personal touch, don’t just communicate through chat. Use video as often as possible. Last but not least, you can also schedule meetings among co-workers specifically for the purpose of getting to know one another and building camaraderie.
9) Add socializing to your schedule
Things that can wear you down while WFH are isolation and loneliness. Such feelings are experienced more acutely with the current pandemic.
It is important that you add some socializing activities to your schedule. If it is allowed, go to the gym or enroll in group meditation classes. Just make sure that you wear a mask and follow health safety protocols.
Whenever possible, arrange for in-person meetings with your co-workers. Some employers go the extra mile of conducting once-a-month fun in-person group and other social activities with their remote employees.
10) Always safeguard your health
Because you are WFH, you have every available opportunity to safeguard your health and well-being. Forget the high calorie takeouts that you usually order when you were working in the office. Instead, whip up some yummy, healthy dishes and snacks right in your own kitchen. As we have mentioned earlier, add exercise to your morning routine. Or you can go for a refreshing jog after you finish your work in the evening. Practice meditation and other mindfulness techniques in order to combat stress, depression, and burnout.
Adopt these 10 best practices for a productive WFH experience this year and beyond!