In these next few months, you are likely to experience working from home for those of you who can. As a solo consultant for over 25 years, here are some tips and tools that work for me, and help to keep me motivated and productive.
Being socially and professionally connected remains the same as everyday times.
Here are some things that make working from home a great experience:
- Use your commute time to listen to music, read, or have family discussions about the day.
- Outline what you want to achieve for the week, and for each day even if you aren’t a planner.
- Tackle your most challenging tasks in the first few hours.
- Know the purpose and outcome for every phone and video call you lead or participate in.
- Learn to have quality five, ten, and 15 minute phone/video calls with your manager, stakeholders and colleagues. Be clear on the outcome you want for each call.
- On Fridays, write 5 success and achievements of the week, 1 – 2 concerns or risks you want to alert your manager to, and what is on your agenda for next week. Email this to your manager. Don’t expect a response, but do signal what you want to discuss in your next get together. This mini report helps you keep track of what you are achieving too.
- Don’t expect to do an 8-hour day, but do be available for calls during work time, and after hours if pre-agreed. Fewer hours of high quality work beats longer hours of ‘busy-work’ any time.
- Zoom/skype/video calls: Communicate a clear process on how you want everyone to participate; e.g. shortly I’ll ask each of you for your best idea on this,’ let’s hear from each of you, the most important aspect for you’, ‘Lets hear from each of you, your main concern and what you need to make this work.’
- Take your mute button off any video call only when you talk, especially if you have children in the background at home.
- More tips on running great video meetings here.
Reduce the risks of misunderstandings
The tone of emails and texts can be easily misunderstood. Begin with a personable relationship message, include the action/outcome/offer at the top and be clear with the outcome you want from your email.
Either summarise what you have been asked to undertake to check for understanding or ask for a reply to ensure you and your team are clear on any work being commissioned.
Mind your posture
If your home office is new, avoid RSI and ensure your computer is at the right height and distance for ease of working and that your chair supports good posture. Expect to work 45 minutes on any task before switching to the next one to keep yourself engaged.
The two biggest differences from going to work are that you no longer have your social network of colleagues or those happenstance fortuitous meetings. Both of these now rely on you to either initiate interactions or be the lucky recipient of those who do initiate.
Stay connected and:
- Schedule regular 10 Skype/FaceTime/Zoom coffee breaks with friends during the week
- Keep a wide variety of low calorie snacks on hand
- Keep yourself hydrated; have a glass of water, tea or coffee each hour
- Take regular 10-minute breaks, particularly after video calls
- Check in with colleagues by text and free comms apps
- Take a walk, read, listen to great music in your lunch break
- Make sure you take a lunch break
- Use your intuition to connect with colleagues who you are concerned about