Thanks to everyone who has responded positively to my new focus on how to work from home. It’s always encouraging to hear when content helps you.
Taking a break from my multi-part series sharing advice, after 6 years of working from home, I’m pleased to bring more experienced voices into this conversation. Simon Daniels is a Marketing Ops & Technology leader, with many years of experience in consulting & marketing leadership roles.
Loyal readers will remember that Simon has blogged before for us on how to avoid being misled by shiny new MarTech solutions. So, I am delighted to welcome back Simon to share (over two posts) his seven tips to work better from home. Over to Simon…
Real experience in working from home (amidst a sea of voices)
While there’s no shortage of advice on offer for those finding themselves suddenly forced to work from home full-time, I thought I’d share a few thoughts from my own experience. I’m currently nearing the eighteen-month mark on my current consulting tour of duty, which is undertaken almost entirely remotely.
Prior to this, I was in a role with direct reports in three locations around the world and a fairly strong work from home culture as well. Before that I was an independent consultant again for around five years, so I like to think I have something to offer on the topic. (I’ve actually been working remotely in some capacity since the nineties, but advice on how to get the best out of a dial-up connection doesn’t seem that useful now…)
4 tips for how to work from home
(1) Get out of bed
I’m sure nobody reading this would seriously contemplate sitting in bed with the laptop. But while properly getting up, dressed and in work mode may seem unnecessary, it’s important to be in the right frame of mind. This doesn’t have to mean a shirt and tie, but consider putting on what you would wear to the office on a Friday.
While Mahabis slippers were supposedly conceived for the home worker, I personally favour a lightweight pair of shoes that I only wear at home to provide the appropriate “I’m at work” feeling. Finally, maintaining your normal grooming routine is important too, especially for the gentleman who would normally shave; a day or two’s growth can look particularly bad on a video call…
(2) Be seen on video calls
Talking of which, make use of video whenever you can for the many conference calls you will doubtless be attending. Nobody is more self-conscious of his on-camera background than me, and my over-laden (though little consulted) bookcase has become something of a celebrity to some of my regular interlocutors.
Nevertheless, being able to see those with whom you are speaking makes a qualitative difference to the effectiveness of calls and can often make them more enjoyable (or at least bearable). The odd audio-only catch-up is fine, but over the extended period we may now be facing, some actual “facetime” (pun intended) makes all the difference.
On the point of what others can see behind you, the various online meeting platforms are increasingly addressing this; Microsoft Teams has a pretty good (if slightly uncanny) “blur background” function and Zoom lets you select a backdrop of your choice. (Use with care though, the beach scene may not convey quite the right impression.)
(3) Carve out the right space to work
Any call, video or otherwise, should take place in a suitable environment within your home. I’m fortunate in long having set aside a room as a home office, which is not possible for everyone, especially those thrown into this mode of working unexpectedly. Still, try and carve out a space that is quiet and free from interruptions, preferably with a door that can be closed as Paul has already discussed.
Ideally, this would not be your bedroom, so that you can separate your sleeping and working spaces. Try and make sure you have a decent chair too, dining room models tend not to be designed for sitting on all day and may not provide the necessary support.
Regardless of where it is, when you head into your workspace, make sure everyone in the house knows you have “gone to work” and are not to be disturbed if at all possible. This applies to younger members of the household, in particular, recognising the difficulty of explaining to very small children why mummy or daddy can’t play right now.
(4) Take regular breaks
Regardless of the quality of your seating, regular breaks are crucial, just to stand up and move around a little. It’s deceptively easy to stay glued to the screen and what you’re doing, but it’s not healthy on a number of levels. Hence, I can understand Paul’s love for his standing desk.
When I have been sitting for a stretch, I’m always struck by how good it feels just to walk up and down the hall and have a stretch. Paul also mentioned the discipline that an Apple Watch, or another wearable device, can provide in this respect, but an oven timer would do the job just as well!
Make sure you take a proper lunch break too, away from where you’re working. This can be an opportunity to spend a little time with anyone else in the house and have a change of scene.
How are you getting on working from home?
Many thanks to Simon for sharing his advice. I hope you found that handy & tips that you could quickly put into practice. I’ll be sharing Simon’s next 3 tips soon & continuing my own series with advice on technology.
But, I’m keen to hear from all of you. Which (if any) of these tips are helping you? Do you have other advice you’d like to share? What are you struggling with? All comments are welcome, to help guide our content so that we help leaders & analysts as much as possible at this time. Keep well.