I’ve worked from home on many occasions.
Usually it’s due to a storm, an appointment or I have a contractor dropping by the house.
So I know how to work from home, but this time it’s different.
When you work from home for a day, a dip in productivity is to be expected. Usually there is something else going on and you don’t have access to everything you have in the office.
But, it’s only one day. That’s easy enough to make up.
Right now we’re not sure how many days we’ll have to work from home.
How do we maintain a level of productivity that allows the businesses we work for to be successful?
How to Work From Home
There are no two ways about this, it’s going to be a challenge. This is especially true if you have children at home.
Working with Children
Teenagers will get board but they have social media, TV and even a phone to talk with their friends.
You should get more quality work time from them and they should understand what is going on. In several states the governor is pretty clear about staying home and how dire the situation appears.
If you have youngsters, you will have your hands full. You know that and it probably freaks you out a bit.
How the hell are you going to do this?
It won’t be easy and you won’t be your old productive self. Any boss worth their salt will understand this and cut you some slack. It’s a two-way street.
You will need to be as organized and disciplined as possible.
No one wants to park their kids in front of the TV all day and young kids can only entertain themselves for so long. You need a plan.
As a parent you are the entertainer in chief.
You may have home work for the kids or a good book collection for them. Still, you need to manage homework time and probably read those books.
If you have a back yard I would advise to get your kids outside each day. Maybe an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. In my city the parks are closed, so you need a yard to go outside and play.
This outside time allows your kids to have fun and get some fresh air. Here in New England we are big believers in fresh air. Even in the middle of the winter my mother would often tell us to go outside.
The play time and fresh air will help your kids burn off some of that endless energy and help them burn off some of the stress we all feel.
Depending on how old they are, you may have to be outside the entire time with them. But you may be able to get in a quick call or two. Maybe even answer an email.
If your yard is safe and your kids are older, you might be able to do the dishes or do some cleaning while they are outside.
With kids outside I think it would be difficult to dig into a work project. You always need to keep an eye and an ear open when the kids are outside.
This physical activity is vital to your productivity.
It can be challenging to get kids to take a nap. Getting them outside to burn off some energy and stress is your best bet to get an hour or two of quiet time.
Kids or no kids, you have to manage your time.
With no commute or need to get dressed or make lunch, it’s easy to loose track of time.
As a parent, you need the time before your kids get up to get as much work done as possible. When they take their naps you need to use that precious time to get things done.
If you live by your self or don’t have kids at home, I think it’s even easier for time to slip away. At least kids get up in the morning and force you to maintain some of your regular routine.
It’s easy to get distracted at home. There are chores to do, your family, the TV, the fridge. And who doesn’t want to go outside for a walk or run when it’s a nice day?
If you are home with your spouse and the kids, take turns working and taking care of the kids. You have to tag team on this.
Each of you needs quiet and alone time to focus on work. This isn’t mean or anti social. Each of you needs to contribute as much as you can to your organization and your organization is relying on you.
It would be selfish to expect your spouse to neglect their job while you work away all day.
Getting out of bed at a regular time and getting dressed for work will help you get into the right frame of mind. If you can shower without waking the kids or your spouse, that is always a good idea!
If your kids see you dressed for work, they are more likely to understand that this is not an extended stay cation.
It’s important to go to bed at your normal time. This helps maintain part of your routine and some sense of order.
Getting your normal hours of sleep helps you stay healthy. You also need your rest to take care of your kids and be productive in your job.
I certainly enjoy the opportunity to sleep in a bit on the weekends. Without your commute and the need to get the kids to school, you should be able to get some extra sleep in the morning.
You can use this time to your advantage. The entire family can get some extra sleep, just not as much for you.
With kids, this quiet time in the morning is your golden hour. Grab some coffee and your laptop and get to work.
The kids will be coming for you soon!
When I go into the office, I find the early hours of the day to be my most productive. I can get through a ton of email and get on top of requests and issues.
So get some extra sleep but make sure you get up well before the kids.
A Quiet Place all Your Own
After figuring out how to take care of the kids, this is probably the most important thing.
You really need a place where you can set up your computer, phone and papers.
Some people can work on a smart phone. Some people have a work laptop and a cell phone.
My company is fairly sophisticated. We can forward our phones to our laptops and use a headset or we can forward calls to our cell phones.
All of us also use two screens in the office. On a normal work from home day I just have my laptop.
Over the weekend I found an old LCD display in the basement. I thought I had two. Now I have my laptop and a 1990’s 17″ display. It’s better than 15.4″ of real estate.
We can also access all of our applications, tools and data from home or anywhere in the world.
Even with all of this, I have paper! I have a note book and things I’ve printed out for reference.
I’ve taken over the dinning room and my wife has the kitchen. We’re only about ten feet away from each other so simultaneous conference calls should be fun!
What ever space you can claim as your own is vital.
We may be in this for a while and you need a place where you can set up and leave your stuff there if possible.
Working from Home Recap
If you have kids, you have to figure that part out first. If you are a single parent try to work something out with you manager or company.
We are all in this together. If your manager knows you have kids and still demands eight hours of highly productive time, you may want to start looking around.
Time management and maintaining a routine are important. You need to spend as much time doing productive work as possible.
You also have to make sure you don’t slip into a twelve-hour work day. Your productivity is not going to be 100% and you may feel you need to extend your day to compensate.
But we don’t know how long this situation will last. Can you imagine eight or twelve weeks of twelve-hour days? You need some time every day to decompress and spend time with your family or call them.
We’re going to be isolated enough, so manage your work and personal time.
Even if you can only get the kitchen table, find a way to own it. People can eat elsewhere. Use a shopping or tote bag to collect your papers and work material if you do have to give up your work space.
A designated work space and a designated work time are crucial to maintaining your productivity.
For those of us with older kids or no kids, this will be a challenging time. There are so many things to be worried about.
If you have young kids work something out with your boss right away. There needs to be an understanding and expectations need to be established and possibly revisited.
Maintaining some of your normal routine helps with your productivity. Maintaining some structure to your schedule will also help your kids cope
This is new territory for all of us.
Stay Healthy my Friends,