- Working Remotely? We're here to help.
A few tips to help empower you – no matter where you work
Tricia Jacksonon Mar 20, 2020
Does your new in-home work routine have you daydreaming about what life was once like on those days when you pranced merrily into the office while high-fiving your colleague en route to your desk, crushed your to-do list with time on the clock to spare, and your biggest qualm of the day was being indecisive about which nearby lunch spot to patron?
You’re not alone. That’s why we’ve put together a few tips and tricks to get you back on track in your new temporary work environment.
First, it’s important to stay positive by focusing on some obvious perks of your new interim digs. And let’s face it – there are perks. For starters, the employee restroom is no longer a seven-minute walk from your desk (can we get an Amen). And we know we’re not alone in the amount of times we’ve mentally calculated all the money that will be saved in makeup, shampoo, and deodorant that we don’t even have to bother applying before team conference calls. Also… sweatpants. Enough said.
Still, taking into account all of these fun (albeit hopefully short-lived) advantages – many of us are suddenly facing a new workspace from which deadlines and daily deliverables are still very much expected of us in order to keep businesses moving forward. Custer’s team of experts collectively weighed in on a few quick and simple things that home-dwellers can implement now in order to stay productive.
Maintain a Schedule
We’ve heard from a number of people that sticking to their daily routines is helping them maintain normalcy. This means waking up when you normally would, continuing a standard morning routine, eating lunch at the same time, and ending your work day on time. Some have even suggested that dressing in work attire before cracking open the laptop is helping their productivity – but we won’t go that far because, well… sweatpants. Do what works for you, just try to practice some type of boundary-setting in order to differentiate home time from work time – for your own sanity.
We hope this is already something you’ve been incorporating into your WFH routine, but if not – we’re here to shed some light on a simple truth. Pausing to breathe for just one short minute is medically proven to reduce depression, regulate the body’s reaction to stress, and minimize burnout (among many other benefits). If you find yourself refreshing newsfeeds multiple times throughout the day, try replacing one of those check-ins with a walk around the block to stretch your limbs and get some fresh air. At the time this was published, outside is still open and welcoming guests.
Your New “Coworkers”
Maintaining structure for the littles allows you to plan ahead for your scheduled virtual meetings or heads down time needed to complete work tasks. One Custer employee suggested, “Try acquainting kids with skills that they’re not necessarily learning in traditional schools like how to sew, or how to fold a fitted sheet. Not all learning comes from a textbook”. Simply asking kids what topics they’d like to learn about is another great tip to tune into their budding interests. Amazingeducationalresources.com and Virtual Field Trips are two resources we’ve found to help you explore different types of learning.
Choice and Control
Okay this one might be tricky for some of us. Try to identify more than one space in your home that you could work from if you need a change of scenery. Having a variety of work settings to choose from is one of Steelcase’s foundational workplace concepts proven to foster wellbeing and focus. The same applies to your home. Take a moment to scan your home for spaces you normally wouldn’t consider to be a pop-up work area. Creativity is encouraged here – add throw pillows to support posture from a window nook, turn a side table into a mobile laptop cart from the couch, or take over the dining room table as your own personal desk. Have fun with it!
The impact in how we sit or stand throughout the work day has been known to impact our wellbeing and productivity in the workplace. The same applies to working from home. This publication from Steelcase is a short read that explains the benefits of introducing multiple postures throughout the day. In short – sitting, standing, and walking each help to maintain physical and cognitive wellbeing throughout your day. So switch things up. Venturing outdoors for a short walk in between tasks will not only boost your mood, but will provide the opportunity for some much needed fresh air.
Whatever your optimal desk mood is, set it. Our five senses play a big part in promoting energy levels throughout the day. Try using different essential oils at different times, adding lemon or cucumber to your water, and incorporating various sounds (music or background noise) to invigorate your space. Whether it’s lighting a candle near your monitor, or actually making your bed before setting up camp with a laptop lap desk and a humidifier diffusing nearby – be intentional about making the space your own.
One of the few things your home probably boasts more of than your office workspace – windows. So open the curtains, raise the blinds, and heck if it’s warm enough outside, crack open that window! According to this Steelcase publication, 42% of office workers have no access to natural light and 7% lack a window near their desk. Natural light is known to support our body’s natural rhythms by counteracting the flatness of artificial lighting and the overstimulation of bright screens. Bonus tip: dry erase markers used on windows make a great in-home alternative to whiteboards.
Designate specific times to show your pets the attention they deserve throughout the day. Fido loves having his best friend home during the week, but excitable companions don’t bode well for productive conference calls. Potty breaks ten minutes before a conference call is a good rule of thumb so that you’re able to be present with coworkers and are being respectful of their time, too. Keeping a nearby stash of treats handy never fails.
The ability to efficiently communicate with your remote team has become increasingly important today, more so than ever before. Our Custer work family stays connected from throughout West Michigan and Northeast Indiana by using Microsoft Teams. There is an array of different tools out there to help your team stay connected, all of which have different capabilities for varied needs. The important thing to remember is to be intentional about staying connected, touching base regularly, and being honest about your workload.
The importance of community is revealing itself more and more each day, in many different facets as we practice social distancing. Take time to remember to check in with your friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors. If you’re a single person craving interaction, don’t hesitate to FaceTime a friend with kids and ask if you could read them a book virtually. Connect with your group fitness peers through virtual classes. Get creative in the ways you’re staying connected to others.
We hope you’re able to incorporate some of these tips to help amplify your temporary new workspace. Though unconventional at best, we’re eager to continue empowering you to do your best work – no matter where you work.