How To Adjust To A Work-At-Home Lifestyle
With many employers and employees setting up shop on the dining room table to try and maintain business as usual during these changing times, one small business owner, Larry Aucoin, offers some advice on how to adjust to a work-at-home lifestyle.
After working from home for the past 15 years, Aucoin, who is co-founder of Optimal IdM, a global identity access management software company, said, “Working at home takes time getting used to. When you wake up, you’re at work. When you go to bed, you’re at work. It becomes a 24/7 experience and knowing how to disconnect becomes critical for your health and well-being.”
He offers these tips for both employees and managers working from home:
Tips for Managers
- Set up a ‘Dash Board Report’ for each job/employee that monitors both quality of work and productivity. Some managers may be surprised to learn that for conscientious employees, both could actually increase!
- Keep your eye on the department’s big picture. Get input from employees and develop a set of ‘transition’ goals that are measurable, focused on maintaining departmental productivity and that tie-in to the department’s mission statement and overall objectives.
- Keep employees focused on big picture. Everyone is already stressed … demanding adherence to strict office schedules, such as workday hours, break times and lunch hours could turn this temporary journey into even more of a nightmare.
- Managers should seek approval from their boss to streamline their own daily workloads, shifting from daily production tasks to incorporate proven ‘virtual management’ techniques, such as team meetings, impromptu check-in meetings with key individuals, sending out email updates on departmental happenings.
- There is no water cooler … so make a virtual one. Use technology to give everyone the ability to keep the communication channels open.
Some Tips for Employees
- Working from home requires discipline. Create a schedule and stick to it.
- Chances are, there are skills that need sharpening. Find online articles, training classes and tutorials that will help you.
- Don’t watch TV! Binge watching the latest Netflix series is addictive and could be terminal to your career aspirations. Create a playlist of your favorite music instead.
- Learn to recognize when you are most productive and guard that time religiously. Conversely, learn when you are not being productive and make a clean break for a few diversionary minutes and accomplish something that will help you get back on track … clean a window, vacuum a room, clean the kitchen sink … but stay away from the TV!
- Breakfast: Don’t skip breakfast! It is tempting to quickly check your work email when you get up, but it can suck you in and before you know it, two hours have passed. Use the morning to socialize with you housemates before heading to your home office space.
- Lunch: Do not eat lunch at your desk. It is habit forming. You need a break from work.
- Hygiene: This sounds basic, but set a goal to get a shower each day, perhaps during lunch. It is a nice refresher!
- Equipment: If you can afford it, get a good chair, and 1 or even 2 extra monitors. Additional monitors increase your productivity, which could allow you to get your job done quicker! Ask your employer to fund these, they just might do it.
- Exercise: If you start feeling claustrophobic or stressed, get outside and take a walk. If possible, when on calls, walk around the room, or even go outside. Use your mobile phone instead of your computer so you are not tied to your desk.
- Car Insurance: If you are working from home for a long period of time, remember to update your car insurance noting the number of days and miles you drive. Lower miles on your car will certainly lower your car insurance payments.
- Do not disturb: Let those living with you know when you are on a call so they don’t burst in saying something embarrassing while you are on an important call.
- Window Office: If possible sit by a window, it helps relieve the feeling of being stuck in an office. (I like to look out at my bird feeders.)
- Get a Hobby: Since you are no longer commuting, figure out something useful to do with your extra time. Try to get something accomplished each day with the extra time, it will make you feel much more productive.
- Be Social: Scientists have found that isolation is damaging not only to our mental health, but to our physical health as well, especially our immune systems. Technology makes it easier than ever to keep in touch, so it’s worth making time to connect with someone every day.
Aucoin concluded by saying, “Finally, try not to get upset or stressed about minor issues. Stay focused on the big picture. We will get through this!”
About Larry Aucoin
Larry Aucoin, CTO and Managing Partner of Optimal IdM, is a recognized identity management expert with over 25 years of technical experience in data analysis, software development and management. Mr. Aucoin has been deploying identity management solutions since joining OpenNetwork Technologies in 2000 (acquired by BMC Software), and later with Oblix (acquired by Oracle). He earned a MS degree in Management Information Systems from the University of South Florida and currently resides in Atlanta, Ga.