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Working from Home: Tips & Suggestions

Posted by Jesse Guzman, Consultant on Oct 6, 2020 11:33:26 AM
Jesse Guzman, Consultant
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There have been many discussions on the value of working from home. Whatever side of the spectrum you may fall on, you may now be faced with the reality where you are being asked to work from home. Below is a list of tips and suggestions for working from home. It is not a one size fits all solution, just like everyone has different habits in the office, everyone may also have different habits at home. The goal is to find what works well for you.

Also note, not all these recommendations may be feasible at this time. I understand with the short time frame to shift to work from home you may not have all the equipment, room setup and/or childcare that you would use in an ideal scenario. Your job may be less effective when you work from home. Remember, take what works for you and what is available currently.

We are very lucky to live in an era where technology is widely available and can be leveraged to enable work from home. Cloud systems like NetSuite make it even easier for employees to shift to working from home.

Working Hours

  • Set a schedule: As much as possible keep your regular working hours. Keeping your same hours will enable you to keep as much consistency as possible. Also remember, you’re saving time on your commute.
  • Take Breaks: As you would in the office, remember to take breaks for a stretch and move your body. A great suggestion is to take one minute to do an exercise such as squats, sit-ups, pushups or any physical movement. Set 1-minute goals. Remember to also take breaks to eat and hydrate.
  • Create a Routine: For many their daily routine has been thrown a nice monkey wrench, use this opportunity to create a new routine. That may include using the saved commute time to exercise, sleep in or watch cartoons with the little ones. The important part is to create a routine that you and others in the household can anticipate.
  • Be flexible: Understandably, working from home comes with challenges, so despite doing your best to set a schedule and create a routine, understand that it won’t be perfect. Be flexible. Check with your strategic leader to see if you can start a little earlier or do some work in the evenings if it helps with home life.

Room Setup

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  • Find a dedicated space: I understand this may not be possible for everyone, but as best you can find a dedicated working space that is yours. Convert a room to an office, find space in the garage, where you can work comfortably. If you are sharing space with someone, find ways to create dedicated workspaces.
  • Spend time to setup a work area: It may be some time before things go back to “normal.” Until then, spend an hour or two to make your space yours. Put up pictures, organize your tools, setup humidifiers, essential oil machines, purifiers if you have them. Make sure you set up your chair and monitors just right.
  • Music: If you are the kind of person that works better with music, create a playlist that helps you be effective. I find that my favorite music isn’t always the best to listen to while I work.
  • Adjust lighting: Something as simple as ensuring you have enough lighting in your workspace is important. Turn on the lights, find a lamp from another room or simply open the blinds. Lighting will change our mood.
  • Tools: You may not have all the tools you need at this time, some of you may only have one computer monitor at home and it won’t be feasible to get everything you need. But there are many tools available.
    • Consider using a TV as a second monitor, many TV’s can stream wirelessly from your PC or hook up using a HDMI or VGA cable.
    • Instead of printing documents, convert them to PDF and read them on your screen. PDF’s can be highlighted, and notes written just like using paper.
    • Use the headphones that came with your phone as a headset. It’s not as fancy as the office headsets, but they’ll do the job and leave your hands free to type.

Technology

  • Cloud Technology: Concentrus is a NetSuite Solution provider, NetSuite was the first cloud-based ERP system and now more than ever it is important to be able to connect and complete important business transactions without the costly need for VPN’s, on-site servers or paper documents. NetSuite is no longer the only cloud-based ERP, however it has as strong reputation in the industry. If your organization needs to make the shift, Concentrus can fill your needs for NetSuite Implementation, NetSuite Support or help with NetSuite integrations to third party software.
  • Leverage technology: Fortunately, we live in a great time to meet remotely. Most of us have Zoom accounts that can be used for meetings. If you don’t have access to a corporate account, you can create a free account which gives you unlimited 1:1 meetings or free 40-minute group meetings. Remember, only the host needs to have a corporate account to have meetings longer than 40 minutes.
  • Messenger Tools: Tools like Workplace Chat become vital to communication. Workplace Chat can be used for one on one messages, group channels and even calls. There are other chat apps which are listed below; however, I find it difficult to keep up to date with all of them. Usually I make a mental decision to use one tool for a certain purpose. It helps me also shift my mind set. Example: Workplace is for work; WhatsApp is for Friends/Family and GroupMe is for Hobbies. Other chat tools include:
    • GroupMe
    • WhatsApp
    • Line
    • WeChat
    • Group Text Messages
    • Microsoft Teams

Meetings

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  • Virtual Meetings: Whether you have experience with virtual meetings or not, it’s always good to refresh on some best practices for virtual meetings.
    • Show up on time: Just like you would for an in-person meeting, make sure you show up on time. That means be logged in, audio and video connected and ready to start the meeting.
    • Document: One of the downsides of working from home is you can turn around and ask your colleague right next to you a quick question. Ensure you document more than ever during meetings. Take detailed notes that you can look back on. Tools like OneNote make it easy to have all your notes organized. Ask the host to record the meeting and send it out to everyone if that helps.
    • Turn on the Camera: Staying focused in remote meetings is harder than you think, it’s very easy to get distracted with emails popping up and noises outside your door. Turning on your camera does two things. It makes the meeting more intimate; you can see faces and reactions as you would in person. It creates accountability, if someone has checked out of the meeting you can politely send them a message to re-engage.
    • Attire: Working from home sounds like heaven, never having to change out of the super comfy pajamas. Everyone will have a different take but remember you may be on video and there is a certain psychological impact of changing from pajamas to normal clothes that can help improve your state of focus. Keep it professional.

Communication

  • Team Communication: More than ever communicating with our teams is vital. Consider setting up a daily 15 – 30-minute check-in with your team. Have a clear agenda which involves checking in (1 minute each), addressing key objectives for the day (5 – 10 mins), share a positive/win you’ve experienced (1 min each). The positive/win experience can be personal or professional.
  • Community: It’s easy to feel isolated when you are working from home. Even when meeting on zoom. For some it’s important to know they are part of something bigger. Our company is fortunate to have a Wellness Group, D.I.whY not? Groups, and Kooking Korner. But feel free to find other groups that will keep you connected with others.

Focus

  • Plan: Create a plan for what needs to be accomplished each day. This will come from a combination of your workload, team goals and daily meetings. Create a to-do list if that helps you or if you have a whiteboard/chalkboard handy, use it to cross things off a list. There is something satisfying of marking something done. OneNote has a great To-Do list feature which lets you check things off as they’re complete.
  • Use your calendar: I use my Outlook calendar to block of time for different objectives. By doing so, you set goals for yourself during each working period, it’s easier to stay on task and it avoids others putting meetings on your calendar when you need to get things done. This one is very important to me and has been a key differentiator in working efficiently from home.
  • Find your productive time: Everyone is a little different, some of you do better early in the morning, others like the afternoon. The important part is to realize when your most productive time is. If you’re a morning person, leave all your productive work for the morning and take meetings in the afternoon. If you do better in the afternoon, switch it up. The key is to find what works for you.
  • Prepare Meals: We are fortunate enough to have lunch delivered to the office four times per week. The biggest issue was remembering to sign up. Now you are responsible for making your own food. In order to avoid the distraction and the stress of rushing to prep a meal, plan the night before. You can decide to put it together at lunch, but if you have a plan it takes the stress from thinking about it.
  • Avoid distractions: Do your best to remove distractions from your environment. That may mean turning off notifications from your phone, putting on noise canceling headphones so you don’t hear the movie playing in the living room or putting a sheet over the TV to avoid the temptation of watching Judge Judy.

Family Life

  • Family Communication: Funny enough not only is communication important during this time for remote teams, but who would have thought, it’s super important with family. That includes having conversations on things like:
    • Working Hours: Communicate clearly with your spouse, kids, roommates, etc. your planned working hours. Like I mentioned above, the more you can replicate a set working schedule, the more you can build a routine.
    • Ground Rules & Boundaries: Set ground rules and boundaries with others in your house. You can develop a system where you can set a visual indicator on the door that lets everyone know you’re in a meeting. Make sure family understands that while you’re home it doesn’t mean you’re free to do other things. Kids are especially excited to see their parents at home and will find a way to peek through the door.
    • Schedule Conflicts: Discuss schedules ahead of time to determine if there are any overlapping meetings or conflicts. Work them out as best as possible.
    • Noise Levels: Communicate the importance of keeping noise levels down during certain periods of the day. It may not always be possible with children in the house, but during schedule review you can let family know when it’s most important to have a quiet time.
  • Enjoy: While adjusting to working from home and family or roommates around may be difficult, it’s also a unique opportunity. Take advantage of having them around to share breakfast, lunch or break times. For many you spend more hours at work in the office than you do with your family and this is an opportunity to spend more time together. One of my guilty pleasures is setting 15 minutes to play with my kids. I set a goal and if I accomplish it, I reward myself with 15 minutes of video games with my son.

Remember, this is not a one size fits all. Some of these tips may not be useful or feasible for you. Take what you can and do your best to make it work. I am also not encouraging you to go buy a bunch of equipment. Do your best to use what you have at home and be creative.

We are living through an unprecedented time – we are fortunate to have many tools at our disposal to continue to provide value to our customers and work from home.

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Tags: Project Management, People Management, NetSuite How To's