It’s a new era for the world of work. Who knew that in 2020, so many people would be reporting to work from home and as a mandate? For those of us who have the luxury of working from home, let’s do our best to be as productive as possible.

Below are three tried and true ways on how to be most effective when working from home – especially if this is your first time to work from home.

Organize Your Workspace That You Will Dedicate to Work

This is the only place that you will perform your virtual work. This way, you begin to establish a routine.

  • Think creatively about your workspace. Think about your desk at work – what does that look like? What can be replicated? How can you ‘close’ the door at the end of the day?
  • If you have a partner and/or kids at home during this time, set-up a work area for them, too. These are your new co-workers.
  • If you live with others (roommate, partner, children) ask them what’s important about their workspace and share what’s important about yours. Establish agreements early and check-in on occasion regarding what’s working and what’s not with these new arrangements.
  • Setting up a defined workspace will help you to separate as best you can, ‘work’ and ‘home’.

Establish Your Routine

Most people who are new in the work-from-home space find it hard to adjust. The best thing you can do during this time is to ensure a consistent routine.

  • Wake up at your usual time
  • If working out is part of your routine, make a point to exercise every day. There are a lot of current creative ways to ‘connect’ online. In fact, most workout clubs have quickly moved to an online format.
  • Make your coffee, tea and/or breakfast.
  • Take care of your partner, kids, roommates if that’s something that is part of your routine.
  • Shower
  • Get dressed for WORK. Yes, work. Of course, in a virtual environment, we can be way more flexible; however, studies show that when we are showered and dressed for work, we’re more productive and perform better. We feel better, too! Getting dressed for work also ensures that you won’t be underdressed when you are invited to a last-minute video call – get used to those.
  • Go to the ‘office’ which will be a few steps away as opposed to a few miles
  • Work your normally scheduled hours and take your normal lunch breaks
  • Check-in with people at work frequently. Different than the office, they don’t see you come and go. You’ll need to check in to let people know when you ‘arrive at work’, taking a break or signing off for the day.
  • At the end of the day, close your workspace
  • Take a short walk to trigger that work is over (replaces your previous commute)
  • Enjoy a nice dinner and relax for the evening
  • Go to bed at your normal work-week time

Find Your Focus

For some, the virtual work environment can be hard to work in. Especially for extroverted people who enjoy interacting with others. Others who are more introverted do quite well working by themselves. It’s natural to expect and even plan for distractions, but don’t let them totally pull you away from what’s important.

It’s important to notice, allow and avoid distractions as you can. Distractions include:

  • Children (both well and sick)
  • Partners
  • Pets
  • Social Media
  • Television
  • Neighbors walking outdoors

Things you can do to help with distractions:

  • Close your door (if you have one) or declare your ‘workspace’ a no-distraction zone.
  • Use a Focus Time App or Pomodoro technique.
  • Schedule breaks so you know you can allow a disruption at a scheduled time.
  • Anticipate the interruptions or distractions so you don’t feel stressed when they do occur.

At the end of each day, you may want to take time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Taking mindful moments to notice will help you to set your intentions for the next day. What strategies can you employ to be most productive right now? What 2-3 things can you take on that will make a difference as you transition into this new virtual workplace? This subtle shift in your mindset will help you create how your work gets completed.
During this time of uncertainty, if you need someone to provide you with coaching, leadership guidance, focus and/or fun, don’t hesitate to contact me.

About the Author

Joan (Joni) Hibdon, Owner of jdh Insights, LLC also consults with Fahrenheit Advisors in Phoenix, AZ and HR Choice in Denver, Colo. Joan builds and maintains strong relationships with clients by connecting with all the relevant human aspects of business. Joan has more than 25 years of experience leading all aspects of human resources in a variety of global organizations. Her expertise includes coaching, consulting, and providing learning and development services focused on cultivating leadership and creating extraordinary employee experiences in public, private and nonprofit organizations. She is also adept at converting strategy into practical applications and guiding companies through change management initiatives to achieve organizational success. Questions for Joan? Email her at Joan Hibdon