Ensuring That You Are a Productive Part of Your Virtual Workforce
March 16, 2020
“Several of my family members don’t understand the ‘working from home’ concept because it isn’t as common in Italy as it is in the U.S. My wife always enters my office and starts talking to me like I’m just there waiting there for her. My father-in-law also is confused by the idea: He once entered my house unannounced, came into the room where I was working and loudly asked, “What are you doing here?!”
Luigi Ottoboni, VP of Research & Development, Parma, Italy
Due to the current situation, the majority of us are finding ourselves in a new reality where we need to work from home as a result of office closures. Transitioning from going into a traditional office to one at your home can be tough, but it certainly isn’t impossible. We’ve been operating solely through virtual workplaces since 2009 and are here to help with some seasoned advice from our working-from-home veterans. Knowing what works best for you, ensuring your technology is up-to-par and setting a routine are just a few of the tips we wanted to share to help you be the most productive, happy and healthy employee.
Knowing yourself and what conditions you work best under is a good place to start. It can be difficult at first to figure out what environment suits you, but here are a few suggestions to help get you started:
Nikos Baxevanis, Software Engineer who lives and works in the Czech Republic, recommends the Pomodoro Technique for staying focused. For those working in different time zones, he also suggests you, “Schedule (some of) your work to be done at the time when the majority of the team is available a.k.a the team’s golden hours,” and not to, “…wrap your brain with time zone math.” Instead, use https://everytimezone.com/ so you always know what time it is where your team members are located and meetings are taking place.
Roberto Sola, Implementation Engineer who lives and works in Ecuador knows that he likes having his desk close to a window while Rand Huck, Senior Software Engineer in Rhode Island, knows himself well enough that he has to “confine myself to the basement because anywhere else in the house it’s impossible to get work done.”
Technology plays a huge role in our day-to-day lives at work. It can be our best friend, but it can also be our worst nightmare. Here are a few tips to avoid tech snafus:
In case of emergencies, Kris Goldhair, Strategy Accounts Manager who lives in Denver, Colorado, reminds us to “Have a back-up plan if the internet goes down.” Something that is always a good back-up is the hotspot on your cell phone.
Lauren Diamond, Director of Services currently residing in Austin, Texas, gives the funny yet helpful tip to, ”Make sure you know how to use your mute button. Especially if you have dogs.” Make sure you let them out and have enough water before going on a call.
Crystal Brown, Implementation Engineer in Greenville, Indiana, knows that for conference calls, “A really good headset is a must!” We fancy the Logitech C922.
For Lauren Habig, Director of Marketing in New Jersey, her routine starts with the following: “Always change out of your pajamas and brush your teeth first thing in the morning before you start working.” Even though we all work on putting our best foot, and face, forward, we all know that sometimes it’s just impossible though. For those instances, Eric Ball, Senior Implementation Engineer in Clearwater, Florida, offers this bit of advice: “Use a webcam cover in case you haven’t started your day by changing out of your pajamas and brushing your teeth.”
Setting up an established routine is key. Taking breaks, setting boundaries for yourself, family and friends, plus giving yourself goals and rewards are all keys to staying productive, happy and healthy while working from home.
Luigi Ottoboni, VP of Research & Development, lives and works in Parma, Italy: “Develop a daily routine to help you stay focused and productive. This should include constant physical activity for at least 30 min a day.”
Nelson Wagner, Implementation Engineer in Michigan, likes to, “Use daily chores as an opportunity for breaks. Doing the dishes/laundry doesn’t take too much active time and makes for good breaks from work that are still productive. Keep your living space clean, you don’t have cleaning people coming every night to pick up after you and clutter is distracting. Have a set daily routine that’s suited for you and stick to it, working from home doesn’t mean sleeping in every morning is healthy. Get outside every day to remind the world you still exist.”
Kirk Fretwell, Training and Enablement Manager outside the Washington D.C. area, uses signals to indicate when he’s working and not while home:
“Make clear signals — to yourself and others in your home — if you’re ‘at work’ or not, to keep a healthy work/life balance. These signals can include 1) physical signs, for others in the house: have clear environmental signals (door open/closed, for example) so kids and spouses know if you’re ‘focusing/on the phone’ and shouldn’t be disturbed. A friend hangs a toy at the base of the stairs for everyone to know at a glance ‘dad’s home upstairs, but he’s working so don’t crank up the tunes!’. 2) clothing signs, for yourself and others: change into clothes you associate with work when you begin work, and change out of them when work is done. It takes 2 minutes. It’s not only a signal to others in the house as to your current state when they see you dart to the fridge, but also can help you maintain your own mental state. Getting dressed at the beginning of the day can be mental preparation: like an athlete ‘suiting up’ before the game, it can get your head into the right state. I like to armor myself with a company polo shirt when I have a day of customer-facing calls, and focus myself with a specific hoodie sweatshirt when I’m doing heads-down creative work. Two different work modes/outfits, but they both mean ‘work’ to me and my housemates.”
And now that you are working from home all day and not going into an office environment where it’s supplied for you, Lauren Diamond and JoAnna Cagle remind us that, “You actually do need to stock up on toilet paper!” Hopefully there’s still some left for you to order on Amazon.