Since social distancing suggestions and stay-at-home orders have forced companies to rethink how and where they work. Many employees have found themselves in previously uncharted waters: working from home.
The CVPS crew is no stranger to the work-from-home life and we have been working from home since our inception over 20 years ago. Keeping our team spread out allows us to be where our clients need us when they need us. Also, our talent pool spans the globe, so we have been able to build our team without being restricted by geography.
There are many philosophies about what you need to make the transition to working from home while remaining sane, happy, and healthy in the process. Since one size most certainly does not fit all, what works for one employee may not be the right solution for another. We asked our team to give you some tips and tricks for making and maintaining the transition that have worked for them.
Maintain a “Workday”
Brooke, based in Missouri, has always worked from home and she’s found that structure is key. Brooke recommends getting up at the same time each day and getting dressed as if you were going into the office. She also firmly believes it’s imperative to “leave the office”. She says, “Working from home can make you feel like you never really leave your work behind, so it’s important to walk away at the end of the day.” With school closures and the new challenge of homeschooling her three sons, Brooke has also found that taking the time for a good workout helps her to decompress and boost her mood. She’s started running three miles each day!
Set the Mood
Ken, in Pennsylvania, believes in the power of organization and ambiance. A tidy space with the right vibe helps him reduce stress and keep focused. He suggests playing ambient sound, whether that’s music, a podcast, or the news, and utilizing ambient lighting. For lighting, Ken uses LED lights with selectable color so you can change your mood without changing your location. At the end of each day, he recommends organizing your space and keeping things clean. To keep your day productive, Ken says, “Take breaks. Get off your chair and stretch every hour.”
Chores Must Wait (but don’t forget to feed your chickens)
In Northern California, on one of the largest and oldest natural lakes in wine country, Sarah has some practical advice for her, perhaps, less common work-from-home situation. Sarah lives on a farm and, before her conference calls, she has to go out and feed her chickens. If she doesn’t, she runs the risk of a rooster crowing during her call. Sarah recommends playing music through the day, to keep your energy up, and to ignore chores. She says, “It’s tempting to do housework during the day, but you have to focus on your job during work hours.” Another key to her success is minty fresh breath. “You may still be in your bathrobe at 3:00 PM, but at least you know your breath is fresh!”
In Pennsylvania, Emily stresses the importance of dressing for success. While, traditionally, that might have meant anything from slacks and a button-up to a suit and tie, work-from-home life allows employees to put their own spin on what is office appropriate. Emily says, “I’m all for being comfy. So it could be leggings, sweats, jeans, whateves. Wear what makes you happy!” Since most of your interaction with clients and co-workers is going to be via phone or waist-up on a video conference, who would know if you’re business on the top, weekend on the bottom?
Communication is Key
Donny is in Costa Rica “goes into the office” every day. Looking and feeling the part are important for setting the tone for productivity and a positive attitude. Donny suggests not giving in to the desire to wear your comfiest PJs to work and to keep clearly defined working hours. The separation of work and home life can be difficult, but if you have an “office” and set working hours, it’s easier to disconnect when the workday is done. Donny also stressed the importance of communicating clearly and often with your team. Simply put, he says, “Communicate, communicate, and communicate.”
Joannie lives in the “thumb” of the Michigan mitt and her work-from-home advice centers around being ready for whatever your day can throw at you. First, keep ergonomics and hydration at the top of your preparedness plan. Joannie uses a therapy ball chair to give her bounce throughout the day and she says to drink plenty of water. Also, keep the antacids close; you never know when a stressful call or atime-sensitive task is going to put your guts in a tizzy. If all else fails, go outside. Joannie says, “It’s nice to feed the neighborhood creatures while on a break!”
Rely On your Officemates
Wait, this is supposed to be about working from home…well, your at-home team may look a little different now, but it’s still important to maintain a healthy office culture. Sabrina, in Minnesota shares her office with two “administrative assistants.” One is a 50 lb. Bulldog-Border Collie mix and the other is a 40 lb. AmStaff-Labrador mix. When writers block strikes or when her eyes are going crossed from looking at a screen, Sabrina takes her dogs for a walk around the block. She says, “A quick bit of fresh air and a brisk walking pace can do wonders for your attitude and sometimes clear the mental block that’s been holding you up.”
Ultimately, your work-from-home style is going to evolve over time. Trial and error is the name of the game but we hope that some of the tips from our team help you find that sweet-spot where productivity and comfort coexist.