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BY Hope Drury
Hope Drury

Telecommuting? Top Tips on Working from Home.

In light of recent world events, COVID-19 has drastically shaped how businesses operate. Much of the American work force is now telecommuting / working from home to support social distancing, so the “typical work day” no longer feels “typical”.

The DoD has also followed suit in support of the working from home model. Going from an extremely connected + active atmosphere to operating out of a digital world can warrant quite a shock. So, how does one maximize their productivity while working from home? We wanted to share some practical productivity tips for the newest telecommuters in the industry.

  1. Designate a work space. When working from home, it’s harder to separate WORK from being HOME. Having a designated work space will help create a physical boundary between “professional” you and “at-home” you. Once you sit down in your designated work space, it should trigger a reaction in your brain to settle in and focus.

2. Dress for the day.  Waking up and going through your normal “getting ready for work!” routine helps prepare yourself mentally for a full day of work again. Keeping your typical morning routine and preparing for the day helps you get into the right mindset. It helps flip a mental switch that the work day has started and sets up another mental boundary between home life and work life.

3. Plan your week. Use a planner to map out the whole work week in general terms (i.e. make calls on Monday afternoon, edit resumes on Tuesday morning, etc.). This helps give structure to the week. You have to act as your own self motivator. When you find yourself getting off track, refer back to the planner!

4. Make a to do list every day. To do lists WORK. When jumping straight into a work day without pausing to collect your thoughts / map goals for the day, you risk losing focus. Plus, checking things off a physical list once completed gives a great sense of accomplishment.

5. Put your phone away. Literally stash it in a drawer or hide it under a pillow. Phones are a constant companion, and we use ours for work. When you’re not actually using your cell, don’t touch the phone.  Of course, this may not be possible at times due to the OPTEMPO in the military but do your best.  Designate phone breaks to implement and encourage a healthy practice.

6. Build in breaks. Get up! Its easy to become glued to your chair. Go for a walk, do some jumping jacks, take the trash out, etc. When working from home, you’d don’t have many of those social interactions with coworkers or mini mental breaks (i.e. getting more coffee from the break room, walking to the other end of the office, etc.). Your work time is a lot more concentrated, which is great for productivity but can wear you out. Build these into your routine, so you can refresh!

7. Communicate. Over communicate with your team members. Its easier to be clued in on all of the workplace happening when you’re actually IN the office. Send extra emails to check in with a teammate, set up a video conferences, communicate via messaging, etc. A big part of employee productivity does hinge on engagement. Communication with teammates while working remotely is an important party of the daily routine. And, as we find ourselves thrust into the new digital work space, business leaders are going to have to be nimble with the way they manage their teams. Korn Ferry, an executive search firm, has created online seminars for leaders to help discuss different topics like “crisis proofing your talent processes” and “creating effective learning experiences in a virtual environment.”

The overarching themes in these tips are structure and routine. Figure out what works best for you – everybody will adjust to the digital work world in different ways.