Working From Home – From A to ZEN

I always joked that people who are able to work from home are “living the dream.” I’ve never really loved the typical American office atmosphere, in the traditional or even the contemporary sense. Sometimes I have to take the time to mentally reflect why I bothered going into the business world to begin with (there’s an answer for this). So while I love the challenge of mentally and emotionally connecting with people from the other side of a computer, the noise and distractions of the office are often too much for my somewhat limited attention span to process. In a busy office, peace and quiet are often hard to come by.

My last day at my office was March 12th, 2020. I have been working from home ever since. And strangely enough, what I thought would be a dream scenario has been more challenging than I anticipated (the grass is always greener, I suppose.) But somewhere along the lines, through trial and error and a little bit of research, we’ve come up with a few ways to make the new home office a harmonious (enough) place to be! 

SET UP SHOP

It all starts with finding the appropriate place to work- a “safe haven,” so to speak. Think about what you’ll need during the work day, and carefully scout out a spot to make your new office. Consider noises, distractions, lighting, energy outlets, telephone lines and more. What sort of environment would be most conducive to a streamlined workday? Odds are through trial and error, you’ll find a spot that you just get comfy in. Which brings us to our next point…

 

GET ON THAT ROUTINE

Just like starting a new fitness regime, the key to making everything click in the early days is by repetition. Do what you gotta do- wake up at the same time, shower, have that cup of coffee, read a newspaper, whatever you need to do to shift from “at home” mode to “focus on business” mode. When you’re not making your morning commute (routine!), it gets very easy for universes to collide and for you to find yourself in a state of confusion and discomfort. Try to give yourself as regular hours as your position permits. Spend more hours at home working than you were previously in the office and odds are good that someone in your home just might get angry. Likewise, when the day needs to end, log off your computer and mentally move away from work mode. You’ll thank us later. 

 

SCHEDULE BREAKS

…but that does NOT mean you absolutely have to stay locked in your office for the entire day. Think of a normal workday- we get up, maybe chat with a co-worker here and there, go for a lunchtime walk and hit up that coffee pot. By all means, take a necessary break when you need it! Burnout from the home office is actually fairly common when employees don’t get up and stretch every once in a while. As much as 45% of us will feel it during some point during our home office experience.  If you have the opportunity to get some fresh air at all, TAKE IT. Quarantine has done enough damage to our psyche as is.

 

HAVE A TALK

Things are different now, and it could be a very long time before things get back to “normal.” So if you find yourself in a situation where you’re suddenly working each day from home, we recommend that you lay some ground rules. WIth your spouse, your roommates, and perhaps hardest of all, children. 

Let them know your planned routines, and at the same time hear them out on their work and personal needs. There’s a way to compromise- there always is. Coordinate a schedule, take turns watching little ones and walking the doggos, share chores.

You know, like you usually do. 

GET IN THE ZONE

We all know the feeling.

You’re sitting at your office space, staring into your screen or maybe deep in conversation with clients, and boom- NIRVANA. You find yourself completely spacing out and nothing else in the universe exists except the task at hand. 

I don’t get there all that often, but when I can, I can achieve wonderful things. For me, I’ve noticed that finding just the right radio station and mood music brings me there. Think about the atmospheric factors that facilitate your finest thoughts, and do your best to recreate that magic in your home office. 

 

OVERKILL COMMUNICATION

This is one that I wished I knew from the beginning of it all. OVERCOMMUNICATE.

With emails, texts, zooms, calls, faxes and so much more crossing ways without a physical office, odds are really good that something is going to slip through the cracks. Somebody will be forgotten on an email chain. Someone will miss a Facetime meeting. So in your best interests, don’t be afraid to repeat yourself as often as you’d like.

 

CHECK IN WITH YOUR CO-WORKERS

Want to simulate an office setting the best you can? What better way than chatting with a few of your fellow associates? Whether you’re talking about business, the weather, or even the tragic downfall of Joe Exotic, a little bit of chit chat over the airwaves will bring back that familiar feeling of office life. 

 

GOING FORWARD

While most of us are eager for life as we knew it to return to some sort of state of normalcy, there’s a good chance that working from home will become what the press keeps calling “the new norm.” But by following a few pointers, it might not be all that bad- in fact, you might even find it easier to achieve things in your new found office environment.