GUEST VIEW | By Laura Persky
working from home
Tips on working remotely in this new world
or those of us who have worked from home before, working remotely in the new social distancing reality is merely a matter of adapting skills we have already mastered. But for many people, juggling work responsibilities while watching children, silencing barking dogs and managing new video conferencing platforms can be a challenge. Why is it that some people can productively work from home and others lounge around accomplishing little? Having successfully worked remote and part time for many years before the dreaded coronavi-
rus pandemic, I can offer some advice on the skills needed to be an effective remote worker. First and foremost, you need discipline to get to your desk or workspace, and stay focused. It requires discipline to maintain focus on work projects and not get caught up in the kitchen. It is helpful, mentally and physically, to have a dedicated workspace. It can be a folding table, one end of a dining table or any corner of a room. Having a space designated as the work area helps reinforce discipline. Check messages and respond quickly.
While it is good to turn off work to take breaks, part time or remote workers that respond to messages quickly make their employers feel like they are very present and engaged. This can help overcome the “out of sight out of mind” or she’s “only a part-timer” mentality. Schedule your tasks and set time limits for projects or even for checking email, and then have a reward for completion. This provides a limit, an ending and a small break after. For example, tell yourself “I will work on this story or this project for 1.5-2 hours. After it is done I can have a
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MAY 4, 2020
reward like walking the dog or having a snack.” Try to stick with the project for the set time. People often find that once they get absorbed in the work the time goes by faster than expected. Reward children as well as yourself for work accomplished. Put up a DO NOT DISTURB sign on your door and reward children with an activity or treat for allowing mom or dad to work in peace for a set amount of time. Set goals and deadlines even when they are not provided. This helps one stay motivated and complete projects. Having deadlines is a tool to combat procrastination. Keep a routine. If you normally exercise before work, keep that up from home or a remote location. If you exercise at lunch or after work, set your schedule to keep that up. It is important to feel like there are routines and transitions in the daily activity schedule. Get dressed for work. It doesn’t have to be as formal as office dress but make an effort to change out of pajamas because it provides a psychological benefit that can help one keep motivated. Communicate with your bosses and let them know what you are doing if they have not asked. Send a note with your the weekly accomplishments or more often if applicable. Let them know about small wins that you might have shared in person. If you feel disconnected then it is likely others do as well. Don’t wait to be asked — offer up a list of accomplishments to keep communication open. Having accomplishments in writing is also helpful when it is time for a review or an interview. Adjust your work environment for maximum comfort. The quick change over to a home work environment has left some people unprepared. Ergonomics are important, especially when working long hours at a desk. Without a comfortable office chair, there may be aches and pains. Try to improvise. Don’t have a standing desk? Create one by stacking boxes under your lap top. Take a walk to refresh body and mind. I recommend taking a walk to help combat the afternoon slump. A brisk walk provides a refreshing energy boost for the late afternoon. Many of us are walking a lot less than we used to so it is important to consciously bring activity back into our day. Adopting some of these practices can make working from home more productive. You may not even want to go back to the office after this is all over. Laura Persky, MBA Ed.D., is associate dean of Manhattanville College School of Professional Studies. She can be reached at Laura.email@example.com.