If you didn’t know what WFH stood for a few weeks ago, but now you’re “Working From Home”, this article is meant for you.
I started working from a home office more than twenty years ago, firstly when I had European responsibility for an American software company, and later in my own consulting business.
Back then, there was no-one to guide me and I made some mistakes. I hope to help you avoid those errors and enjoy your time WFH.
Make Your Space
Dedicate somewhere in your home as your workspace. It doesn’t matter how tiny it is, or where it is, but it has to be:
- Where you can leave work in progress so that you can come back to it and continue instantly.
- Where you can focus reasonably well. That means you’ll be out of the way of the TV and family members passing through.
Resist the temptation to eat in your workspace.
Impose a Routine
You have to be able to ‘go to work’ by going to your workspace, but equally important is the ability to leave that space and ‘go home’. If you can’t do that, the line between work and home life becomes uncomfortably blurred.
Choose when you will ‘go to work’ and ‘come home’ each day.
Schedule breaks. That’s important for your mental health – more on that later.
Dress For Success
Actor Alec Guinness once described how he ‘got into’ a character. “I start with the shoes”, he said. “If I can work up from the appropriate pair of shoes, everything else seems to fall into place.”
So, try dressing for work, for the regular hours you’ll be in your home workspace. Get out of those comfortable slippers or trainers, and wear something that starts your work frame of mind.
Be a Video Star
You’ll most likely be spending time on video calls. Don’t underestimate the power of the first impression you can make when on video. Look successful, and you will be successful.
In your dedicated workspace, try to figure out how to have a decent background behind you when you’re on a video call. Tools like Skype and Zoom allow you to substitute a nice picture behind you in place of your bedroom/kitchen/conservatory. Look for those options.
Your physical and mental wellbeing should not be an after thought. You need to approach this as if you may be working from home for a long time. Indeed, you might be.
Maybe not immediately, but soon, take a look at the ergonomics of the workspace you’ve created. Is your chair giving adequate support? Check if your desk and computer are at the right height. Search the web and Youtube for advice on desk ergonomics – there’s plenty out there. In my case, a stand up desk turned out to be very helpful. They don’t have to be expensive – this is an IKEA desk.
While WFH you must consciously do the stuff that happens naturally when you’re in an office environment. The chance encounter while making a cup of tea that you’re used to won’t occur. You’ll need to set that up deliberately by scheduling calls with colleagues to socialise, or calling people out of the blue to interrupt their day just as you would welcome them doing that to you.
Isolation or Independence?
Whether you feel horribly isolated or gloriously independent is a choice you can make. You can influence how you feel about your experience working from home, by making a decision to enjoy it.