23 Mar Working from home. The essential guide!
My team and I have been working from home for nearly 4 years now. This is the best possible decision that we have made in our business, and I am very confident that we would never go back to an office environment. But all this was not easy at first. We took the time to get it right, but when we did there was no looking back. I guess today is our turn to return to the community and help others.
With so many people that have started working from home and will be working from home soon, here are all the things that we have learned in the last 4 years.
Have a work table and a comfortable chair.
This has to be the most important bit of the whole arrangement. Make yourself as comfortable as possible as you will be spending a lot of time at this place. Make sure if you are facing the window that the light is not too harsh. A screen and a bright background will not work for long work hours. I always loved bright spaces with the window on my left or right. An occasional peek outside the window is always refreshing. Avoid having a window right behind you to avoid reflections. Keep all essentials like phone chargers, stationery, etc handly so you avoid getting off your table too often. If you have kids then train them to know that when you are at your work table you will not be distracted. Ideally, if you can have a workroom, it would make the arrangement just perfect. Make sure that your background is not too distracting when you take the occasional video call. I use two of these stands https://www.ikea.com/ae/en/p/isberget-tablet-stand-white-20302596/
One for my laptop and the other for my phones. These are the cheapest and best stand for my laptop and phone. You can also avoid picking up your phone for all your notifications. If you take video calls on your phone, then these stands will be a lifesaver.
Customize your table to your liking. A nice lamp, some tabletop plants will keep your workspace fresh.
Always declutter your table before you start for the day. This will help you keep your mind clear and focus on the task at hand.
Pick your favorite communication tools.
We use Slack for all our chats with properly organized channels so that my team and I know what each channel is about and how much they need to focus on it. For example, our general channel has the least priority and our critical channel needs attention within 5 minutes. We also use a bunch of integration into our Slack for project management updates, time clock updates, calendar updates, etc.
We make it a point to meet our team online every day at the exact same time for not more than 10 mins. For this we use ZOOM, Facetime, What’s App or Skype. Any tool that you use is fine. Personally, we love Zoom for its screen share features and Facetime for video quality. By keeping a fixed time and duration, you will need to spend less time coordinating with everyone. Trust me we struggled with this very early on.
We use JIRA for our project management. This may be advanced for many users but the idea is that there is a clear agenda for the daily call. When you have an organized task list everyone is simply happy!!
Being a time and attendance software provider, we use our own software to track time, process payroll and take care of our leaves and accruals.
We always use Calendy to schedule all our calls. And Calendly lets you enter your schedule as well.
We do meet once a week though. Before the coronavirus outbreak, we always made it a point to meet once a week for a good lunch, dinner or a coffee break. This helps to keep things sane. When you work too much at home you will soon start missing socializing.
Set boundaries and limits.
Working at home does not mean that you cannot work or you overwork. You are bound to enjoy this new arrangement for its flexibility. Very soon you will realize that you can work in your home attire, take a 20 min break for a quick workout or simply watch your favorite show. But set your priorities with work and enjoy your new-found freedom. Set limits to when you can be disturbed by your roommates or spouse.
Plan your next day the previous night. It’s always handy to keep a small diary or a todo list. This list keeps your day hyper focussed and you can get a lot done. If your list has more than 10 unchecked items, make sure you never add another one until all your items are checked off.
You will soon see that your productivity is getting better and better day by day. There will be days when you can get so much done, that it almost feels guilty to be free after finishing up all your work. Pat yourself and take a break these days. Don’t overwork know your limits.
Having a cooldown period helps a lot. We have specific off work times that we spend with family. Work with a schedule that works best for you. You will be surprised how much quality time you can get with your family especially your kids. You will also be able to squeeze in workouts, pick up a hobby and still have time to do a whole lot of other things.
The biggest downside of working from home is getting used to it. Once you are used to your new lifestyle, you will find meetings at your office a complete waste of time. Routine things like the commute to work will soon feel like a waste of time and money. You will value every hour and feel the pinch for every minute that you waste. My experience has always been positive once I mastered working from home. My team truly enjoys every bit of it. Our combined productivity is something that we could have never achieved otherwise. We all enjoy our work, own our time and always work towards the common goal and worry less.