This year has been a whirlwind for many businesses as they navigated the ups and downs of working from home, working fewer hours, or even changing jobs altogether. If you or your team are still working from home, even just part of the time, read on for some tips on ways to make that home office effective and efficient.
If you have a separate room in your house that you can devote to working from, take some steps to make it the perfect environment. For instance, if you know you will be on several Zoom calls, set the scene accordingly with a blank or sparsely decorated wall to use as your background for those calls. If your office chair has been giving you backaches, invest in a new one to optimize your work time. These little details can add up to create a big difference for your workday.
work responsibilities end and your home life begins. If you have kids at home, you are likely also juggling the additional demands that parenting brings, all while answering emails and texts from your team. This is why it’s vital for you to create a schedule for your workday.
You already know the basics of making a work schedule, because you likely have a routine you follow every day when you’re at the office. This routine can be adapted for your home office, too. Just as you would if you were sitting your regular seat at your job, you can let your team know when you are available and when you can’t be contacted. If your team typically heads home between 5:00 and 6:00 in the evening, make this your cut off for returning emails and answering phone calls. If you would normally take a half-hour lunch break around 12:00, go ahead and take your lunch break at home around the same time. Keeping your routine as consistent as possible will make for an easier transition for you, especially if you are alternating between your home office and your regular office.
Of course, as you are navigating this new normal, your employees are doing the same. Extend to them the same courtesies you extend yourself when it comes to respecting their schedule. Ask your team to let you know when they can be contacted, and when they will be unavailable.
Your best chance of succeeding from your home office will be to have everything you need right away, instead of running out to grab it during the day. This means thinking ahead and planning for your needs often – maybe even each week – and taking steps to prepare for those needs. You will also want to prepare for how those needs have changed.
For example, when you need to distribute copies of a memo to your employees, you would usually walk to the copy room at work and get what you need. Now, it’s more likely that you’ll find yourself emailing those copies, or you might be making them from home. Factor in the extra time and changes required to meet those daily needs. Even your usual office supplies, like a stapler or paperclips, will no longer be ready and waiting in a supply room when you need them, so get what you need from an office supply store until you can find a way to get your items from your work office.
Again, be sure to consider your employees during this process, and remind them to get what they need as well. Work with your team to ensure that they have access to phone calls, video conferences, emails, and everything else they use to do their jobs.
These times are unprecedented, but you can mitigate the struggle of adjusting through taking steps to prepare. Help your team members find the best ways to work from home, and remember that flexibility is always the key to a successful business.