Working From Home – Part 1 – Getting Adjusted

Over the past week, due to the virus outbreak currently happening, a lot of companies are moving from in-office to full remote for their workers. I have had a few friends ask me how I got adjusted with working from home without getting insanely bored or distracted. Hopefully this will help break it all down about how to create that mental focus.

*note I don’t have children / animals or pets so your at home office experience may vary

Set an Office Area

Now this is easier said then done, but having a “work” area can help bring the focus, try not to work in a major traffic area of the house such as the dining room or the kitchen and definitely set the rules that you are working. I know with all families being at home this can get real tricky nowadays. But you can’t have your significant other coming in and being like “can you help me real quick…” then a few hours past and you just lost a good chunk of time for your day.

Set Break Times and STICK WITH THEM

Now when I am working, I do not work for 8 hours straight. I work in smaller sprints. Like 3 hours, then an half an hour break, and so on and so forth. I listen to my iWatch when it tells me to get up and walk around and even just stepping outside can help recenter my focus. Staring at a screen at home for 8 hours straight and not moving is something I don’t do. If you are just starting to do this, you might have an office with a view or able to walk outside your office for a little bit. Keep doing that, you can still walk outside you aren’t locked to just your house during these trying times.

Also when I take a break I will do some house work like doing my laundry or maybe even a mop cause I am thinking about a problem in the back of my mind and trying to solve it while doing something else.Or in some cases I will jump on a quick game of PUBG in order to think through a problem. But in the end I will work 8 hours just with breaks in between cause it helps me recover and do better coding. I find that most people lose their focus after 4 hours. And sitting and eating and working in the same spot all day can hamper their productivity. Now yes I will be working for around 10 hours sometimes but with breaks to help regain my focus it will be around 8 hours of work total.

When it comes to communication…never assume

Now this is something that takes an adjustment, but I know when you don’t work near people you tend to not ask questions. I have seen this when I worked in an office, or other places. We would simply just turn to our person and ask a question. And I have seen with online companies that sometimes the co workers get very……silent. This is one of those habits that happen at first, I have seen many people when they start to work from home they get stuck in this mental state of assuming everything on the project is ok. Doing follow ups and actually asking questions can help make projects go easier.

Also another small thing when it comes to communication, accept the fact that if you have calls you might hear a baby crying, dogs barking or kids yelling. With everyone being at home and schools being canceled this is going to be a given over the next few days.

Stick to the hours

This is one of those things that can definitely get away from you, cause maybe you wake up at 6 am, get the kids in the car by 7, drop them off in school, or just wake up at 6am to get to work before traffic gets bad and are in the office by 8am. Now yes you can sleep in but your body will adjust to not having to wake up at the crack of dawn in order to beat traffic. You can still be online at 8am. You don’t need to get online earlier.

This also goes to working after you get off work, I have an alarm set for me to have a hard stop at 5. Sometimes I will let this slide when we are in crunch time and I have to work past my hours. When you work in the office you will know its leaving time cause everyone else is getting ready but when you are in an at home office sometimes I find myself losing track of time since I work in the dark and will just get into a focused mode that sometimes hours will go by and my watch will be like “its time for lunch.”

Prioritize your Internet for Work

Now this can get a bit more technical, but when you have kids or family at home and everyone is streaming or doing something on your phone, it can weigh down your internet.You will need to go into your router and prioritize your computer over everything else because when you are having a video conference call and it gets choppy that can hamper your work productivity.

Most routers have it so you can easily set the hours and the order of priority of everything, you will definitely want to learn how to do this so you can set your work computers to be number 1 on the internet of things list to prioritize traffic to.

You can’t just disappear

When it comes from working from home you can’t just work offline, you have to be online in some way, you can’t just disappear without notifying anyone. Working from home requires a level of trust between the workers and the employers. I have a work phone where my co workers can easily get a hold of me and if I have to go out for a certain amount of time, I do notify my co workers about it. I have worked with people who will be like “I had a doctors appointment” and they don’t get on till the last hour of the day and will just ghost for hours on end especially when it comes to a project. When it comes to building that dynamic between work and home, you gotta let people know or if an emergency happens just notify your boss and your team.

Here is a double edge sword, when you are working from home, you should have easy communication with your team, but be cautious. I have a dedicated phone to my job, I keep my personal and business separate. So if my other phone goes off, I know is important. Now what if you don’t have another phone should you add your new team chat app to your phone? should you add your business email? I would air on the side of caution cause before you know it, your boss could be emailing you on friday nights and then saturday. So what I would do is leave my work laptop open and disable sleep mode so it doesn’t turn off after a set amount of time. This is a way to keep that barrier up.

In Conclusion

When it comes from working from home, it does take some getting use to. You have to go with a leisure approach but a stern approach at the same time. Yes you can work in your jammies, but at the same time you need to be communicative and get work done. And with the fact that everyone else is home at the same time can create issues and the whole being couped up can cause brain jam, but if you focus on building a rhythm then you can make working from home a lot easier.