tips for Working from home jobs
Since the pandemic of 2021, working from has become more common than ever. However, as a person who started his career working from home from time to time, I recognize that working from home today is different than in the past. The reason is now, unlike before, most employees also work from home. This change from most employees being in the office, while maybe you're working from home, introduces some benefits but also new challenges.
I have often reflected on my habits while working from home to improve my performance at work. I have also read a wide variety of reading material on studies conducted on the effects of the performance of companies and their employee's adjustments to working from home.
I have some thoughts on this subject that I am eager to share. I want to share my advice on how to get the most out of working from home. I want to encourage employers and employees to better support colleagues who are or want to work from home.
Getting the most out of email
You can use your email to overcome many communication challenges with working from home. However, simultaneously you still have to deal with the everyday issues of managing emails. So allow me to explain how I use my email effectively.
Foremost, organize your inbox. I like creating labels and folders for standard, critical, and less important emails. Ordering my email inbox helps me get to all my emails, no matter how many come in.
I also like to set time aside for addressing emails. If not, responding to emails too frequently throughout my day can break my concentration on the tasks I need to complete. So, for example, I like to spend an hour before my work day starts responding to emails.
Also, I spend about a half hour before lunch answering any unanswered emails. Similarly, I address all unread emails before leaving for the end of the day. The goal behind this is I have learned that the quicker you can respond to emails, the more available you are to others. Being available while working from home can make it easier for others to trust you working from home.
Using Instant messages
Using instant messaging can help you overcome many challenges with email when working from home. For example, when working from home, you no longer have the luxury of walking up to a person's desk when you need to get information from them urgently. So sending an email is more kin to leaving a message for someone.
That means utilizing email to get important or time-sensitive tasks done can be dangerous. Since email responses can be too slow, connect with coworkers by instant message when you need quicker back-and-forth conversation. If more than one person is required for an exchange, think about creating a group message for all members.
The last piece of advice about instant messaging is also to use this for not urgent and non-work-related conversations. You do not want these kinds of conversations crowding up your inbox unnecessarily. For example, check in on coworkers you have been introduced to but have not spoken to in a while, or if there are coworkers with similar non-work-related hobbies or interests, keep those conversations here.
Make the best of your calendar
Your calendar is a great way to communicate your availability to the rest of your team. For example, I like to put the time I plan to go for lunch on my calendar as an event. Likewise, I will also set that on my calendar if I need to run an errand.
I will also create a few events for everyday activities like "office hours," communicating when is best to contact me. I also set markers to represent the start and end of my work day. Creating these events and tags is helpful to coworkers who work in different time zones than I. If you occasionally make office visits throughout the week or year, it is wise to flag these events on your calendar. Using your calendar to show when you will be in the office lets others know when you will be available in person.
Avatar does and don'ts
In the office, your teammates see your face every day, but WFH, it is harder to make that connection. However, this challenge is easy to overcome. The first thing I do when starting a new job or every few months in a role is updating all my work avatars. So, for example, check your work accounts, such as instant messaging profiles and email accounts, for your profile image.
Use a good, up-close image for all your work profile avatars. Having a formal headshot would be nice but not required. To some, this can come off as disingenuous. So do not feel pressured to use a wedding photo or something formal.
I can understand for some that finding a profile image of yourself may be nerve reckoning but remember it is valuable for people to have a face to your name and work. So avoid cartoon avatars, any images of an object or scene. Also, avoid pictures with you and another person. Your colleagues may mistake you for someone else. Lastly, do not use a photo of someone else that is not you.
I enjoy avatars that show the person doing some activity. The activity can make connecting easier if it represents an activity you like or describes something unique about you. In addition, this image can be a great icebreaker when meeting new team members.
In conclusion, make sure your picture makes it easy to see who you are.
Virtual meeting tips
One of the more common tasks of working from home is attending virtual meetings. These virtual meetings get communication done at the highest level. Although there are many benefits to virtual meetings, there are also many pitfalls to avoid. Here are some of mine.
- Find a quiet place to attend meetings. Background noise can be a distraction to others.
- Wear a headset. Sometimes the sound from the speakers can drown out your voice, and headphones can avoid that.
- Camera on is best. As tempting and convenient as it is to meet with your camera off, having it on shows respect to your other meeting attendees and demonstrates your attentiveness to the conversation.
- Mute your microphone when you are not speaking. It will help to keep the noise down on calls. Also, you may be unaware of any background noise that may make it on the call.
- Have material to take notes, and take notes
- Dress appriopriatley. Wear something you would wear in the office. I like to keep a few shirts near my chair to throw on for meetings.
- Check your background. Make sure nothing distracting or inappropriate is in view.
- If you are going to use a background, use a subtle one that will not command attention unless you are the host. I typically blur my background when possible. Pay attention to color clashes with what you are wearing. Last, invest in a greenscreen. It will be worth it.
Have a comfortable place to work One great benefit of working from home is you have more control over your work area. Your desk, chair, and, most importantly, where you sit are all decided for you in an office.
Because you have so much control over your workspace at home, I suggest you spend a significant amount of thought on making it as comfortable and productive as possible.
For example, get a usable computer monitor for your device. Working on an easy-on-the-eye screen or two screens can improve your productivity. For example, I use an ultra-wide curved screen monitor with my laptop. The widescreen placed next to my computer gives the effect of having three screens.
Getting a comfortable desk and chair would go well with your screen and working device. For example, I purchased an L-shaped desk with adequate workspace and an ergonomic chair for sitting long times when needed.
These items are the foundation of my workspace at home, so I prioritized these items first. To help me make educated decisions concerning my desk and chair, I read this article to help understand the science behind having a good workspace.
One of my favorite things about going into the office is the nice assortment of coffee and teas available in the kitchen or cafeteria. So when I started working from home, I invested in convenient coffee makers and tea kettles.
I like to listen to music while working. To not distract others, I wear headphones often in the office. However, I later learned using headphones could communicate to my colleagues that I did not want to be bothered. In contrast, I have little need for headphones while working from home.
Instead, I invested in speakers. Getting speakers led to me signing up for music streaming services like apple music and SiriusXM for access to a wide range of music. However, investing in a record collection and record player was the most exciting decision I made for my workspace.
There are many other things you can do to improve your workspace. Each of these depends on your needs and preference. Rather than go through all the options, I will share with you some more things i have done to improve my workspace in hopes of inspiring you to improve yours.
Some other things I got for my workspace were a blanket in case I got cold. I have an ergonomic keyboard and mouse for comfort. I have a 55-gallon fish tank that is great to look at when I am stressed. I have a blue parakeet in a cage that sings. I collected wall art, a bookshelf, and multiple clocks set in different timezones because I work on an international team. Lastly, I have a lamp to have more control over the lighting in my office.
Change your scene
Other challenges come with working from home vs. going into the office. One of the more noticeable ones is that your scenery does not change. I can spend days without a need to leave my home. Although I may not need to, I try to only go up to 48 hours without leaving the house.
Some other changes I make to compensate for this is changing the decoration in my office from time to time. In addition, I ritually add seasonal decorations to my home and office. I will also go to places outside my place to work temporarily. Examples of this are libraries, coffee shops, and bookstores.
During my workday, I also like to take short work breaks. For example, going to get the mail, taking a short walk, or walking a dog, I will also go for short drives. These activities help me refresh my mind during the workday.
Another drawback of working from home is meeting other people outside of your immediate team is challenging. Connecting with others in this manner happens much more automatically when working in the office. I miss these brief interactions with colleagues and often remanence on the benefits those interactions had on my career.o
To overcome this, I connect with other colleagues whenever possible. For example, in large or company-wide meetings with many attendees, I will search for new connections, which has benefited me.
My last piece of advice would be not to avoid the office entirely. For example, I meet with workers as often as possible. If I can drive to my office, I will try to make an appearance at least once a week. Usually, I will schedule periodic in-person meetings with my team members. I also make that time consistent, so others know when to expect me in the office.
If I can not drive into the office, I will pick critical times throughout the year to travel to the office. A good rule of thumb is to make it in the office on eight different occasions and at least thirty days total appearance a year.
If you think this is a robust list of advice, remember these are all improvements I have added to my routine when working from home over my career. Furthermore, I have had to tailor my approach differently depending on the company and the team I am on. So please do not feel pressured strictly follow my advice.
If you have any feedback, I would love to hear it. Please share with others and read my other posts. Thank you for your time.
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