Having joined Nexera in 2005 I have been working from home for almost 15 years. Here are a few things I have done that has ensured that time at home is productive.
First, if you live alone this is much easier to accomplish. If not, and particularly if you have children, you need to establish boundaries with the family. What I mean by this is sit everyone down and lay out what your work hours are and what the expectations are. When I started with Nexera I sat my family down and explained that Monday through Friday 8 to 5 is work time. Even though I am home, I am at work. Don’t run into my office interrupting work unless the house is on fire (AKA a real emergency).
That is the next important piece, establish an “office” have a designated place where you “go to work”.
Establish and maintain a routine. Obviously if you are not commuting into the office you do get the benefit of sleeping in a little longer. However, you are not on vacation so set your alarm clock, wake at the same time every morning and have a set routine just like you do when you must commute. For me its coffee started, shower, brush teeth, get dressed, in the office between 7:30 and 8:00 every workday. Consistency is important to success.
Throughout the day, get out of the chair! Make sure you take breaks, get up and walk around. An easy trap to fall into is planting yourself at the desk or dining room table and sitting there all day. When at the office you are routinely getting up going down the hall to meet with someone, going to the printer, the break room, etc. Make sure you get up and move at least once every 90 minutes. If you can, go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine. Go out and get the mail. I usually take 5 to 10 minutes each time I do this.
Maintain work / life balance, everyone I know who works from home regularly falls into this trap. At the end of the workday get out of the “office” and leave it alone. Many times, I find myself back at the computer at 7, 8, 9 O’clock in the evening working on something. Try your best to keep your off hours “your time”. Saturday morning, is a bad one for me. Leave it alone until normal work hours as much as possible.
Keep your sanity. During “normal” circumstances everyone else at my house works outside of the home. At times things can get too quiet. I have a small docking station for my I pod in my office. Usually after lunch I will turn that on. The volume is low, my preference is smooth jazz. It is something to just fill the void the silence creates. It helps me maintain focus and stay productive particularly when doing some of the more repetitive tasks. So have a radio, Pandora, Spotify, something along those lines to create some background noise when you need it. The key is not to let the music overtake the work environment.
Video Chat with colleagues. At Nexera we use Microsoft Teams. Taking a few minutes to video chat with co-workers can be a real shot in the arm for morale and ‘esprit de corps’. This helps both parties. That said, I strongly suggest you initiate this connect through instant messaging or email. Drop a note to see if that person is available first. When in a meeting or deeply focused on a project it is hard to re-engage when interrupted by a call. I.M. first inquiring as to their availability at that moment.
After hours chat. By far the most popular of the calls at Nexera is the VCH (Virtual Cocktail Hour). Every so often, those who are able will get together virtually at the end of the day with their beverage of choice and just catch up. Usually there is a little shop talk, but it is more about connecting with the people. These can help mitigate the feeling of isolation and are a great team builder.
Try these things, hopefully it will make your time while you are working from home as productive as possible. With any luck all of us can go back to our normal routines very soon.
Stay well and stay sane, we will get through this.
Performance Analyst, NEXERA