Keep Your “Work-From-Home” Flow on Track

by | Mar 20, 2020 | Blog

Original post by Kelcey Morgan, Chief Product Officer with ThumbStopper®, located here.

Suddenly find yourself working from home? Cabin fever already setting in? Struggling with how to stay on track when you’re not motivated by peers and in-office routines?

Same. So, how can we all cope and help one another out?

Here’s my top recommendations for creating a remote work environment to keep yourself, your team, and your company focused and motivated during these uncertain times:

Create a Dedicated Workspace

Setting a laptop on your lap while binge-watching The Office may seem like a great way to spend a day “working” remote. However, I guarantee you don’t really get the “working” part done. Ensure you have a space in your home that reflects your normal office setting.

If you normally use a desk, sit at a desk. I personally need 2-3 screens to function, so I have brought monitors home for my new office space to keep my productivity consistent. If your office usually has light music playing in the background, add that to your home ambiance!

You probably don’t have The Office playing in the background, but as tempting as it may be, it’ll probably hinder your ability to separate work from play.

“Show Up” for Work Every Day

Stay consistent with your wake/sleep schedules, get your workout in as you would normally. Shower. Put pants on. The usual things you would do to go into the office and socialize with your peers. Get to your “office” at your regular time. More importantly, clock out as you normally would.

Two of the biggest challenges when working remote are “working” and “stopping work.” Figure out which category you fall into and make sure to pay attention daily that you don’t fall into bad habits.

Maintain Regularly Scheduled Meetings

My team just held our first remote Scrum. We have these regularly in the office three days a week at 9:30 a.m. This is not going to change during our remote time.

We know that this constant team check-in to our development processes and active sprints are vital to keeping us on our company roadmap. Did we have to adjust and use Slack team calls instead of in person? Yes. Are there plenty of tools available to do the same thing for your company? Also yes. (i.e. Zoom or GoToMeeting). Start a shared document for meeting minutes and designate an appointed recorder if you don’t already have this process in place.

This same rule applies to client meetings. Our account management team has monthly regularly scheduled calls with our clients, already set up with GoToMeeting. There is no reason for these to be cancelled/changed, and we encourage additional check-ins to touch base and show empathy to their company adjustments during this time.

Evaluate Existing Processes – Improve Where Needed

A major benefit of working remote is that the likelihood of someone stepping into your office and distracting you with a side task is greatly reduced – unless you’re one of the lucky ones like me home with your kids for an undetermined amount of time!

If you find you have some down-time, use it to evaluate existing processes and communications. Our team recently cleaned up our entire project management software, making things easier to read from home that we wouldn’t have the opportunity to clarify face-to-face. We have also started making better mock-ups instead of drawing on shared white boards to gather around.

The opportunities for improved change now can help instill habits that’ll improve workplace productivity when back in the office.

Hold Your Teammates Accountable

Your office is still your team. We are all still striving for company success. If you normally would address “bad” culture or attitudes privately with your colleague, keep doing so! If you notice someone’s hours of work change, their productivity and attendance to “meetings” starts to decrease – reach out directly with your preferred messaging app.

Remember, this is a challenging time; Some people may need a reminder they aren’t alone and that their presence is important. Hold each other accountable, but couple that with holding each other up.

Everything we learn through these next few weeks about our out-of-office cultures will only strengthen our in-office cultures when we resume normality. Stay safe – stay focused – stay connected.