8 Work From Home Tips - Post Pandemic
Now that we are returning to work and life again, it is clear how and where we work is going to look much different than what it did during our pre-pandemic days.
And while we have been working from home for the last year out of necessity, in many cases now it is a decision to stay home. That means that a new skill set is needed to stay focused and productive – especially as restrictions loosen, the weather warms and we are tempted to blow off work to go have some fun.
Prior to launching The Hanger Valet, I was a PR and Marketing consultant and freelancer for a handful of Cleveland marketing and advertising firms. For more than 15 years I worked from home or hoteled in client offices.
During that time I learned valuable lessons about how to work from home efficiently and most importantly, how to develop boundaries and manage expectations so I didn’t burn out or miss deadlines.
If your job has offered the option to work from home or if you are one of the thousands that have decided to pivot and take your side hustle to the next level by working for yourself, the following are lessons I’ve learned about working for yourself or remotely:
Get Dressed Every Day
There is a cognitive correlation between being prepared for the day by being dressed for the day. It's actually called "enclothed cognition." Your dialogue with clients, customers and co-workers is more refined and the ability to jump in on a Zoom, Skype or even in person meeting is so much easier when you are presentable.
Take it a step further and plan your outfits ahead with the help of The Hanger Valet. By investing the time in this habit, you will carve out time in your morning to do things for yourself like workout, catch up on news, meditate or sleep in a bit longer.
Prep and “Pack” Lunch
You can only do your job well if you are feeding yourself well. That means saying no to constant snacking and yes to nutrition and hydration. Like planning your outfits ahead, take the time on the weekend or the night before to prep ingredients or meals so you have time to eat and minimize the time it takes to cleanup after lunch.
Stay Relevant and Engaged
The term out of sight out of mind applies to working from home – especially if part of your team is in the office and you are out. Make a point to check in with co-workers and see how their weekend was.
Plan trips into the office for lunches. Be sure to sign the birthday cards when you do stop in. Demonstrate that though away, you are still an active member of the team.
You don’t want to give reason for managers or bosses to forget about you, your work, your contribution and your potential to grow into bigger roles with the company.
Be the Boss You Want to Work For*
Yes… I know you have a boss. But when you are working from home, you will be your own boss too. Establishing healthy boundaries is vital to keeping your momentum going and avoiding burnout.
If your boss told you, after working a full day of work, to return to your office at 8 pm and continue working until 1 am, how long do you think you would last in that role?
Resist the urge to “get one more thing done” at night. Say no to working on the weekend “to get ahead for the week.”
Of course, at times and with some projects you will need to do that. But to do it on the regular means you will grow to hate your job and role because you have a mean boss – and that mean boss is you!
*This might be the most important lesson I've learned and the tip I recommended most often to people launching a business or choosing to work remotely.
Know the Difference Between a Routine and a Schedule
A routine are the things you find important that you get done in a day such as working out, reading the news, talking with a friend, working on a project, investing in a hobby. A schedule is how you fit those things into the hours of the day.
Without a natural flow of a schedule at work (people breaking for lunch, heading into meetings, grabbing coffee with a co-worker, socializing with people at the lunch spot, etc.) it is easy to lose parts of your routine. It’s also easy to let your routine impact your schedule.
Not every day will be perfect, but having a schedule that supports your routine and a commitment to your routine will help you have work life balance.
Take Your Vacations. Take Your Lunches. Take Mental Health Days
You are not a machine. You need breaks from your schedule and routine to have fun and enjoy life. So take the vacation – away from your house.
You need human interaction in some capacity, even as an introvert. So plan lunches, coffee meetings or happy hours with friends or co-workers.
Don’t let stress overtake your soul. If you need a break, take the break. When you create clear lines and boundaries for the fun and the recharging, you are more likely to be able to stay focused, efficient, productive and a supportive member of your team and your company.
Adapt and Keep it Spicy
Even someone that enjoys regiments and routines can grow tired of the same old.
In order to avoid burnout or depression, make sure to change your scenery from time to time. That could mean changing your working location for a period of time, scheduling more lunches or coffee breaks out of your home, taking courses that stretch your mind and social skills or purposely networking after hours.
Like how a vacation from our jobs can help us reorient our productivity, so too can minor tweaks to our daily schedules.
Know When it is Time to Pivot or Return to the Office
Everyone thinks working from home is easy and that you can get so much extra stuff done – like laundry, being home for the kids to get off the bus, be available for home repairs, be there to take the dog out, etc. But those extra tasks can really weigh on you over time.
Certain personalities will do well with working from home. And some will not. The only way is to try it and adapt as necessary.
If you decide to try out working from home and it is a struggle, don’t beat yourself up for it not feeling right. Nothing is wrong with you that it doesn’t feel comfortable. Returning to the office doesn’t mean you aren’t a disciplined person or are needy. It just means you enjoy the energy of being around other people and do your best work in those environments.