Many of us are forced to work from home for the next few weeks or more, as we do our best to stay healthy and care for our families and communities.  There are benefits to working remotely, but also a lot of challenges if you’re not used to being in an office.

As a news anchor, I was used to a busy, noisy newsroom with lots of people around, stories to write on deadline.  We were all held accountable by the clock and our team putting on the newscast on time.  

Becoming an entrepreneur, an executive communications coach, brought a drastic change in my work life. When I’m not at my client’s headquarters or in an office building conference room, I am working from my home office.  A new experience. 

I had to learn how to work differently, remotely, and do it well.  Here are some of my best practices.

  1. Keep Regular Hours:  Yes, it’s tempting to sleep in, or change your schedule, and some of that is fine, but if you continue to get up at the same time and work the hours you normally would, it helps to keep you accountable.  At the very least, create a schedule that allows you to get the most done with as few interruptions as possible.

  2. Dress for the Day:  Another temptation – to stay in your pajamas, but there’s a psychological effect when you at least put on real clothes.  “Your attire communicates your intentions,” even if it’s just to yourself.  

  3. Designate a Proper Work Space:  When I’m at my home office desk, it’s “work time.”  Setting up a space specifically for work helps you be more productive and avoid distractions.  It also signals to others in your household that you are “at work” and, hopefully, they will also respect that signal.

  4. Keep Distractions to a Minimum:  Try to create the same kind of atmosphere you might experience in your office, ie: no TV on or loud playing music.  No doubt, this can be challenging when the laundry basket is full and your household “to do” list is calling your name.  Or, suddenly you have kids home from school or day care and they want your attention. If you have young kids, perhaps create a schedule for the day for you and for them to provide some structure and to set expectations. Depending on your child’s age, puzzles, educational activity books, or craft projects can all be entertaining and time consuming. iPad and TV rules for kids may need to be flexible when working from home becomes a sudden reality.  If you have a baby or small child, think about scheduling your phone calls during nap time. If two parents are working from home, plan your days together to tag team child care, helping you to provide needed attention to your family and to maximize productive work time. You may even need to give the kids a timeframe, ie:  mom/dad will be working for the next hour, and then we can go for a walk, or play outside, or do something fun together. Their “reward” for being patient.

  5. Group Tasks:  I find this incredibly helpful!  Set aside a certain amount of time or specific time of day to work on emails, write a proposal, or the hours in which you do your necessary calls and meetings, via technology, with others.  If you do need to do a Video Conference or a Conference call, here are some of my best FREE tips for doing them well.

  6. Take a Break:  Yes, I did say take a break.  Get up from your desk and stretch; it helps with clarity and keeps you from getting bored.

What other tips and tricks work for you?  Let us know so we can share them with everyone and help us all get through this challenging time.

 


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