9 Best Practices for Working from Home
As the COVID-19 (commonly known as the Coronavirus) situation rapidly evolves, more and more companies are taking steps to protect employees and their families, including moving to work from home (WFH) arrangements.
While some people thrive in this environment and find it to be highly productive (and perhaps even a chance to work in sweats!), others struggle with adjusting to the remote experience and miss the daily contact with their colleagues. But in this unprecedented situation, how can we all ensure the working day remains business as usual with teams connected, collaborating, and continuing to push projects forward?
In that vein, we’ve put together nine WFH best practices so you and your teams can stay on track while keeping healthy. Enjoy!
1. Stay in your routines
It’s best to keep the same routine you have when going into the office. Waking up at the same time, working out if you usually exercise in the morning, and getting dressed can all help you get into “work” mode and see the day at home as a time to be productive.
This “business as usual” approach also applies to your workday. If you have a meeting on the calendar that you wouldn’t have canceled if you were in the office, keep the time scheduled. If you normally swing by a colleague’s desk to check-in in the morning, call them, or send them an email or instant message instead.
By keeping the same routines and schedules, it’s easier to transition into your work schedule and stay focused throughout the day.
2. Designate a workspace
Establish a designated working area — ideally at a desk or table to replicate the feeling of working at a desk in the office. It can be tempting to set yourself up on the couch or bed where it’s more comfortable, but this will most likely end up being very distracting.
Once you’ve designated an office area, ensure you have everything you need to be productive: technology, secure WiFi, a comfortable chair, and most importantly, no distractions.
3. Use video conferencing to maintain face time
When you WFH for longer periods, face to face interactions become much more valuable. That’s another reason it’s critical to keep all meetings if attendees are still working and check-in with other colleagues more often. Therefore you should try to:
- Only cancel meetings if you would have in the office
- Schedule briefer, but more frequent, check-ins with colleagues, direct reports, and your manager
- Host meetings with Zoom or another video conference tool
When meeting via video conference, using the camera is highly suggested. This improves the feeling of social connection and the general quality of communication — so much is non-verbal!
4. Maintain meeting etiquette
As you start hosting remote meetings, it will become even more important to maintain meeting etiquette. Some items to consider:
- Be mindful of your body language: smiling, head nods, thumbs up/thumbs down, and raising your hand to speak in large meetings all help!
- Double down on active listening
- Use headphones to improve the sound quality for everyone else
- If you don’t have a headset, speak directly into the microphone and avoid typing, drumming your fingers, or eating near the mic
- Avoid side conversations – speak one at a time
- Greet others when they join the call
- Mute yourself when you’re not speaking
5. Create a list of tasks for each day
Creating a task list for each day you work from home can help you stay focused and will indicate how well you’re performing in a remote environment. Organize your tasks by priority, specifying which tasks must be done by the end of the day. Then, before you turn off for the evening, look back at your list and review all the items you were able to complete. This will give you an opportunity to evaluate your performance and set new tasks for tomorrow.
6. Keep your regular working hours
When we work from home and away from everyone else, it’s easy to become misaligned from the rest of your coworkers. That misalignment can create breakdowns in communication and productivity. Therefore, you should keep the same hours you would as if you were working in the office and make those hours clear to the rest of your team.
- Keep clear working time and out of office blocks on your calendar
- Communicate the best way for others to get in touch with you. Some people prefer email while others may want a phone call or text
- Keep an open channel during parts of the day for casual check-ins and questions
Finally, just as you would leave the office at the end of the day, set a time for yourself to turn off and transition into your usual evening routine. It’s easy to keep on working and responding when you’re at home, but this will quickly lead to burnout!
7. Schedule breaks and get fresh air (safely!)
Just as it’s important to turn off at the end of the day, it’s equally important to remember to take breaks throughout the day. Thinking about your typical day at the office, you probably have multiple “watercooler conversations” throughout the day as you see people at their desks or after meetings. When you’re working from home, you may see it as an opportunity to stay heads down and focused on your daily work, but this is only effective to a certain extent. It turns out that you actually need the breaks that these “watercooler conversations” provide to stay productive and engaged. Therefore, it’s critical to schedule yourself breaks throughout the day when you’re in a work-from-home situation — and if you’re able to take an opportunity to go outside and get some fresh air (while maintaining a safe distance from other people), that will make your time away from work even more beneficial.
8. Overcommunication is key
With everyone decentralized, it’s harder to know what your colleagues are doing at any moment. In the office, you may walk up to someone with a question and realize they’re on the phone or in the middle of something, so you come back later. When you’re at home, communicating — and even overcommunicating — updates throughout the day is key. If you’re trying to finish a project, about to take a call, or going to be otherwise unavailable at any point during the day, reach out to your colleagues via email or text to let them know. This gives them the context they need when you’re unresponsive and gives you the time you need.
9. Use technology to track your team’s activities in one central place
Staying up to date is important for any team, but is especially critical for leasing and asset management teams. You may already be waiting for the next leasing meeting or email to hear time-sensitive updates, and having your entire team decentralized could make pushing deals forward even more challenging.
But sharing updates via email will become overwhelming and working from the same spreadsheet is risky, so how do you keep everyone on the same page? With VTS’ leasing and asset management software, teams are able to manage deals, tenant and space information in one place, so everyone has real-time visibility into how they’re tracking toward portfolio outcomes, and can easily work together to keep deals moving forward. When teams are working remotely, this visibility becomes even more critical to keep businesses on track, and gives executives a way to get quick answers to their pressing questions.
While working from home can be an adjustment for some, it doesn’t need to be an overwhelming one. By following these best practices and staying connected via technology like VTS, you can ensure you and your team remains productive, stays on target, and never misses an opportunity — even in a remote situation.
Do you have any good tips for working from home that we missed? We’d love to hear them! Share them with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.