04 Aug A guide to working from home
For some of you working from home is a new adventure. It is very likely that we will be working from home for some time.
So, with that said, here is some information that I hope helps you in the months to come.
Before you start: do your best to be patient with yourself and others
Change is challenging. It can be stressful and frustrating. That is normal – every person I know that works from home goes through many of the same things.
Take a deep breath and let it out. Smile. You may not get a lot done some days. Let those days go and do your best to do better the next day. Remember that there is no one to protect you from yourself when you start beating yourself up. Also remember that those around you at home may just want your attention – isn’t it nice that you have people or pets that love you? Be patient. Find ways to make the best of the situation. If you screw it up – well okay. That happens. Forgive yourself and try to do better next time. There is a lot of stress going around right now – do the best you can to be patient and understanding.
Step One: have a family meeting – explain what is happening and be patient
Each of you want to be informed and to know what is going on at work. Your family does too.
First and foremost, make sure you make the time to patiently let those around you understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.
I worked from home for years. I remember how hard it can be to balance family and life while working from home. In the early days my family would say things like, “Dad, you are the boss – you can work whenever you want.” (facepalm, groan – were it that easy…)
A good friend of mine reminded me that – it is normal for those you love to want to be with you – count yourself lucky! Remember to be patient with them – especially if they don’t have to work. They may not immediately understand. That is okay – you may need to go over this more than once.
Tell them the truth (do it in your own words) – This is what I told my family – There are 130+ people at TTR (where I work) and their families that are relying on me to do my job and do it well. They rely on me – they rely on one another. Our clients are all relying on us too – all 8,000+ of them. When we do our job, tax gets paid right. Right now, more than ever, tax really needs to get to the government and agencies that need it. Tax is the money being used to help find a cure – to pay for the CDC, vaccines, and all the things the government is doing to help everyone with COVID-19. We have to be there for them. I have to be there for them I need your support and help in doing this. I can’t do it without your support. Our clients are working and relying on every one of us at TTR as well. The good news is that I work for a company that is needed all the time – even in tough times. We are so very fortunate to have job security. It is painful to know that people will lose their jobs or not get paid. But if I do my job, maybe, just maybe – some of this tax will get to those that need it most. I want to do my part.
Step Two: create a work space
I realize this may not be easy or possible – so do the best you can. It is important to have a space at home that you can temporarily call your “office.” It is the place where you will take calls, do work, and hopefully have few distractions. Before I had an office, this was my kitchen table (when my kids were at school). With families home, it may be necessary to use your bedroom or some other place that you can go to work. Do the best you can.
Step Three: create daily plans, keep a schedule – for work and family, and get things done
Make a plan. Use your commuting time to create great daily plans. Schedule your day to get things done. Then, get them done. If you get those you live with to agree to let you work, you will find that you actually have more time to get things done.
It is important to work during your scheduled work times. Remember that others are relying on you.
INCLUDE in your schedule time for family. It will make those at home feel important if they are included in the schedule – even if the schedule simply says – 5pm – family time. Make sure they are included and make the time to let them know they are included. It is totally okay to have fun with your schedule like this:
1st Half of Day:
Get things done
LUNCH with family!
2nd Half of Day:
Get things done
Afternoon get together
30 minutes – game with family/friend/etc.
DINNER with family!
Fun idea: Instead of foosball or other games or breaks you might normally take at work – set a time to do something (15-30 minutes) with family each work day or whatever makes sense for you home situation.
Step Four: stay connected – more important than ever
Check email as though you were at your desk. Answer your phone. Use your phone to stay connected to your teams. We often forget the value of hearing a person’s voice or seeing a smile on the face of the person in front of you. Pick up the phone. Talk to one another. Attend your college meetings daily and if possible, video conference with your teams. Now, more than ever, it is important that we stay connected. Use the phone list to call those you work with. If you normally spend 15 minutes talking to a friend at work – call them – stay connected.
Step Five: get more done than ever – a test to measure your performance
Someone once told me that when you are working from home – there is a test you can use to tell if you are successful:
You know you are successfully working from home when you are getting so much done and are so busy that you would actually rather be back in the office.
I laughed at the time over this idea. This is meant to be funny and bring a smile to your face, but after working at home for 4 years, that is actually pretty accurate.
Step Six: remember when to call it a day and have fun
This is one of the hardest things to do. You have to make time for those you live with – especially if they are not working – they will want your time. You may have house projects and other things. Schedule them too. End off for the day – it is easy to just keep working. You have to give yourself time to “recharge your batteries.”
Make sure you give yourself time to have fun and do things that bring you joy in life. You will feel good about doing this if you are getting a lot done while you work. You’ve earned it! So have fun too.
I admire each and every one of you for making it through all of this.