I’ll never forget that early, unusually cold, Las Vegas morning.
It was December 12, 2015. My wife and I decided to move from Las Vegas, Nevada to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and this was day numero uno of a massive, cross-country road-trip with our feisty terrier pup, Sammy.
It was exciting and scary.
Thousands of miles and a new place to call home aside, a massive professional shift was ahead for me as a public relations professional. After working in a totally feng shui-ed office (which, BTW, is super-unique for how generally hectic the PR universe is) and attending oodles of industry and client meetings during a given week, my new HQ was going to be my condo and I’d have to find new ways to stay fully tuned in.
My company had graciously agreed to let me work remotely and I was ready for the challenge.
Here we are more than four years later. I’ve now maximized my productivity (the majority of the time from my couch), worked for The Firm from five different continents, and have learned some valuable work-from-home/remote work lessons along the way that can certainly apply to several industries.
Here are eight ways to maximize your work-from-home situation that will ultimately benefit you and everyone you interact with (including your pet):
1) Optimize your technology. You may prefer a headset over those free headphones you snagged from an airplane. You shouldn’t be stuck using a trackpad if you can zoom through tasks with a wireless mouse. And, dear Lord, if no one can hear you on a conference call because your AirPods keep failing or you spilled a Frappuccino on your phone’s mic, it’s time for a swap. The bottom line, you will need key technological components to do your job. Through trial and error, you will know what you need – and prefer – and it will make everyone’s jobs easier.
2) Don’t isolate yourself on a communication island. Your colleagues in the office (or that may be working remotely themselves) didn’t hear the random call you were just on. Find an appropriate mechanism to keep your teammates looped in. This ensures everyone is working with the most up-to-date information and can fire on all cylinders. Lagging behind, or not communicating key updates at all, will only lead to a disjointed landscape.
3) Caffeinate / treat yo-self. I drank a lot of coffee in the office… and I drink even more coffee at home. In fact, I’ve become a pour-over snob, slinging cups of joy with my V60, Kalita Wave and more with coffee beans I’ve come to love. Whether it’s coffee, a Snickers bar, tea, or something in between that helps you get through the day in an office, stock up and incorporate the same pick-me-ups at home.
4) Show your housemates (and pets!) some love. If you have a significant other, roommate or guest living with you, let them know you’re working. They may not see your sneaky AirPod or know you’re working on a project and, vice versa, perhaps they can turn the Metallica down while you’re on a conference call. Also, it’s not right to leave your loyal pet sitting there all day, un-petted and begging for attention. Several studies have shown that pets can brighten your workday – the periodic pause to acknowledge Fido or Mittens will do everyone good.
5) Establish boundaries and try to keep them. While it may be hard to focus and develop a rhythm at first, you can ultimately ease in to becoming an uninterrupted, machine of productivity. You can do it! And, you can be astonished by what you accomplish in, for example, an 8-hour day. With that being said and if at all possible, save that energy for your workday. If you loosen your workday boundaries, you may find yourself feeling like your time on the clock is 24 hours when, in reality, no one may be suggesting that it needs to be.
6) Stay cognizant of the noise you are consuming. Recently my wife started working from home. She likes keeping Disney+ on in the background for a good chunk of the day. Prior to her new work-from-home chapter, I listened to generally doom-and-gloom cable news (based on the current news cycle) basically all day long. Whether I actually love Disney+ or not, I feel so much less stressed out with what’s now in the background. Establish the ambiance that works for – or perhaps helps – you.
7) Take a break. Folks in offices certainly take their own forms of pauses, whether it’s grabbing a snack, catching up with a colleague or engaging in office outings. You can do the same without slacking off. If you’ve been hammering away on a keyboard for hours, step outside for a five-minute walk. If you’ve been on calls all morning, go say hello to your neighbor. There’s a wild and wonderful world out there and you can still interact with it. And, guess what, with today’s technology, you’re still reachable during these breaks, if need be.
8) Be accessible in times of crisis. You’ve set boundaries, but you’re still a part of a team. Based on your rhythm of communicating with colleagues, clients and others that touch your business, you’ll know when someone or something desperately calls. It’s during those times that you need to step up and show that you’re there… regardless of where you may be.
Jesse Scott is an account director at The Firm Public Relations & Marketing. For more information on The Firm, visit www.thefirmpr.com.