Working from Home

I've been working from a home office at least part of the time for most of my career.  I've found some things work well, and other things not so well - for me, at least.  I've found that some roles are better suited to working from home, just as some people are (and some are not).  With the urgent need for disciplined social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19, I thought I'd share a few tips I've accumulated over the years.  Here goes, in no particular order!

Organize your Day - You should know exactly what you will be working on and accomplishing every day, before that day starts.  If you want to be super structured, fill in the "open" time on your calendar (uncommitted time) to work on specific projects and activities.  Of course, some things might get disrupted as the day unfolds, which takes us to the next point...

Be Flexible - Be ready to jump into new projects, meetings, opportunities or challenges.  You may need to adjust your schedule, but this will help keep your work challenging and interesting.

Maintain Regular Hours - Start and finish your day at about the same time each day so it actually feels like a workday.  It's a good feeling to know you have given a full day's effort in exchange for a full day's pay!

Transition Routines - Have an established transition into and out of each day.  After I'm done walking, feeding, and playing catch with the dog it's time to go to work.  My "out" transition is to mentally review the day's results and to check the game plan for the next day.

Visible Work List - Know your assigned activities and projects, list them, and create a visual and constant reminder of what you need to work on.

Measure Each Day - At the end of each day, review your progress on the things you wanted to achieve or do during that day.

Have a Dedicated Space - This may not always be possible, but even if it's part of a common area where you live, it's good to "go to" the same space each day so it begins to feel like your "office."

Be Correctly Comfortable - Make sure you are comfortable, and practice good posture so you don't suffer unnecessary aches and pains.

Be In The Moment - This applies to work and life.  If you are at work - be there - 100% focused.  If you are outside of work - be there - focused on those you care about and yourself.

Stay Connected - Reach out to peers and  contacts, stay in close touch with your manager to understand what they need and expect from you, and participate actively in the virtual meetings you attend.

Establish Ground Rules - You will need rules for yourself, and others who may be present where you live.  When and where will you work?  When and how long will you take breaks?  Who is allowed to interrupt you and for what?

Eliminate Distractions - This is not always easy, especially if you live with others.  Some people like TV or other content in the background, but it's more likely this is a distraction, even if subconscious.  A good set of headphones (noise canceling or reducing if possible) and a white noise application can help a lot.  Eliminate (or at least limit) time on social media while you are working.

Be Healthy - Exercise, even if it's just a little, and try to eat fruits and vegetables.  Drink lots of water, avoid too much caffeine (unless you are Italian - you can handle  it!).

Get Dressed - Okay, I'm not in a suit in my home office, but I am clean and dressed.  It makes you feel more ready for work.  If you are still in your pajamas, it's more difficult to make the transition to work.

Positive Attitude - Choose your attitude at the start of each day and remind yourself to stay positive throughout the day.  Stress contributes to a breakdown of the immune system, which makes one more vulnerable to any sickness.

Get Help - If you need help, ask for it.  This could be simple things like work questions, office supplies, or scheduling questions.  Or, it could be more significant.  Perhaps, you are feeling isolated or even depressed.  If you need help, ask.

Take Structured Breaks - Know when you will take breaks, for how long, and then take these breaks in their entirety and make them count.  Checking email on your phone while you are taking a break to stretch and clear your mind really defeats the purpose.

Don't Just Rely on Email - Pick up the phone!  It's a faster way to resolve many issues, and helps you feel connected and engaged when you are speaking with another person.

Explore New Time Uses - You might find working at home actually provides time in new areas such as; 1) Creative Time - thinking about new ideas, processes, changes, improvements, etc., 2) Learning Time - studying new skills, attending distance learning, etc., and 3) Organization Time - getting more organized in your work.

I'm sure you have your own tips on how to succeed while working from home, and I hope everyone will add their ideas to this list!

Michael Pratt
CEO, Panini

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