Everyone knows working from home can be an awesome luxury. But what happens if you, as a modern working professional who spends your day in the office, is suddenly sent home for two-to four-weeks due to an uncertain situation?
Across the globe, COVID-19 is causing organizations and businesses to close their doors, and professionals in every industry are being sent home to work. With this abrupt change of routine, it can feel as if your typical schedule has been flipped on its head – you no longer need to make that morning commute, you miss that daily banter with coworkers, and that sense of communal obligation is gone. You are now experiencing the life of a telecommuter where your home office is now your office.
As an organization whose employees only telecommute, we at the Western Museums Association (WMA) understand the challenges and expectations of working from home. So, to help you successfully ease into this new role and be the most productive you can be, WMA has compiled a list of 10 work-from-home tips for your use.
1. Keep your morning routine
When you work from home, it can be difficult to find the motivation to get up and make it from your pillow to your computer. Without that morning commute, you might hit that snooze button a couple more times.
However, to get yourself into the “office,” keep your schedule almost exactly as it was and aim for consistency. Pretend as if you were going into work – get up at your normal time, make that pot of coffee, get dressed, and prepare your lunch. The trick is to act like almost nothing has changed.
2. Select a consistent work space
It’s extremely important to have a dedicated work space. No matter how tempting, do not opt for your comfortable bed or the couch. Separate your work from leisure.
If your desk is cluttered and piled high with magazines or bills, take the moment to clear and organize the space. And make sure it is well-lit! You will want to make your new home office a place where you can be the most productive. Check out some home office design tips here.
3. Structure your day as you normally would
Working from home means you’re now your own manager and no one is necessarily watching over your shoulder. It’s easy to lose focus on the task at hand or experience burnout.
To stay on schedule, approach your daily tasks in the same manner as if you were still in the office, working 9pm-5pm. Keep to your daily/weekly calendar, give yourself your normal breaks, and still find ways to hold meetings via phone or video chat.
4. Clock in and keep track of your hours
Accountability is important when working from home. To make sure you and everyone else is getting into the “office” daily and on time, have yourself or your team clock in and clock out. Keep track of your hours even if you’re not required too.
5. Hold regular check-ins and overcommit
When you and your dedicated team of hard-working employees are separated, it can be difficult to keep everyone up-to-date and on task.
To ensure that everyone is sticking to the agreed upon timeline, it’s highly beneficial for you and your team to have at least one weekly video chat or phone call where you can exchange ideas, ask questions, and share what you’ll be working on for the day/week. If you need some tips on how to set up a meeting, check out Faculty Focus' tips here.
When you’re discussing your personal tasks, it might help to overcommit. When you overcommit on what you’ll be delivering that day, it keeps you honest and focused. Even if you get the urge to do something else or go for a walk, you’ll know that you’ve already committed a certain amount of work to your team.
6. Create a work plan
If your job requires access to onsite collections, galleries, or facilities, you’ll need to plan out work to do over the next two-four weeks. Is there a project you’ve been putting off? Are there publications you need to read or research to conduct? Connect with your manager or team to develop a new work plan with concrete goals and objectives.
7. Communicate expectations to others at home
Now that you’re really bringing your work home, you’ll need to set boundaries. Make sure that anyone you live with knows of and respects your routine. Just because you’re now home, does NOT mean you’re home. Need assistance? Read Medium's blog How to make people understand working from home…is still work.
8. Don’t be distracted by social media
Social media always poses as a distraction, no matter if you’re in the office or at home. To increase productivity, remove any social networks from your browser shortcuts, log out of every account, and don’t use them on your phone.
9. Pick a definitive time to end each day
It can be easy to push your work off throughout the day and intermix your work-life balance. You might find that you rather go to the park and finish up your assignment later on. Well don’t. Give yourself a set time to end work each day and don’t go past.
10. Have fun with it
For some people, playing music or turning the TV on in the background helps improve efficiency and makes productivity levels soar.
If you decide to play music, match your music to the task at hand. Check out The Muse's 10 Playlists That'll Power You Through Your Day Better Than Coffee. If you decide to turn the TV on, select a program that you’ve already seen a countless number of times and one that won’t distract you. Who knew listening Friends for the 100th time could be so beneficial?
If you follow some or all of these tips, you’ll be a productive, accountable telecommuter. And when you get back to work, you’ll be able to hit the ground running!
Good luck to you all and stay healthy!
Your friends at WMA
Written by Jessica Noyes - Communications Coordinator, The Western Museums Association Communications@westmuse.org