Laying the Groundwork for Long-Term Remote Success
It seemed like a novelty just a few weeks ago, the idea of working from home, especially if you’re new to the concept. With the fluid Coronavirus situation and the government’s recommendation to stay at home, it looks like working remotely will continue to be a reality for at least another month, perhaps longer.
Deciding where to create an office environment can be difficult. Some have chosen a corner of a room, kitchen nook, or even an extra bedroom, but for many of us, our set up has been patchwork and not optimum. While most of us are chugging along, checking off our to-do lists, we may also realize that there are ways we can be more productive.
How do we create a long-term work-from-home situation where we can be most productive? The following are tips that our fellow AFFIRMIANS are learning along the way:
Be a Squeaky Wheel. Keep the conversation going. Communication is key, especially when working from home. At the office, we have the kitchen and coffee areas where we can casually have an ongoing conversation. The relationships you were building at the office can’t happen as easily working from home. At AFFIRM, we use Microsoft Teams to chat with each other, ask questions, collaborate on ideas, or just check in. Chats like SLACK or Google Hangouts are also effective ways to stay on each other’s radar.
Build a Roadmap. Configure your workspace setup. Look around your home or apartment and decide where you can be the most productive. A couple of weeks ago, you might have grabbed a nook off the kitchen area, deciding it worked for the time being but, over time, it might not be the best space. If needed, rethink your environment, so you are set up for success. For example, an office set up in a bedroom doesn’t always sound ideal, but if it offers the space and is in a quieter area of your house, then go ahead and set it up!
Rethink your equipment’s bells and whistles. Initially, many of us may have put together a mixed bag of monitors, cables, and any flat surface we could find, MacGyvering it, finding the best way to work with the items we had on hand.
Instead, try to mimic your office environment as much as possible. Even if it is set up on a kitchen table, the architecture of your workstation should be the same as the office. If you sit at a desk at your office, you should sit at a desk at home. Many people don’t have an actual desk at home but a dining room table, an old card table, or a 6-foot table, where you can spread out, will also work.
Many employers will lend you home office equipment, especially during an emergency. However, buying an extra monitor, even without the stay-at-home order, is a good idea for long-term use. A couple of AFFIRMIANS use this 24” curved monitor. It’s a great monitor for anyone who looks at a computer screen for an extended period featuring a bright display, vivid color, and ease of use.
Stay in the Same Lane. In other words, be consistent. Just like you started your day at the office at the same time every day, do the same in your home environment. If you use part of your morning for calls to clients, stick with that schedule. Even though the atmosphere you’re working in may be more relaxed, you’re still on somebody’s payroll. Keep calendars updated and use a project management tool like Workamajig, Basecamp, or Asana to stay on task.
AFFIRM works with several transportation demand management clients whose mission is to help people find alternatives to driving to work alone in order to reduce traffic and improve air quality. Working remotely and telecommuting have always been part of their mission, along with carpooling, vanpooling, biking, walking, and using transit. During the COVID-19 pandemic, telecommuting has moved up to their top priority as it should for all us. In fact, once the virus is over, people might find that working remotely better suits their lifestyle and they’ll continue to do it, helping the environment out at the same time!
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