#1 - Wear pants.
As this clip illustrates, wearing pants can save you from embarrassing moments like this. However, there’s something to be said about getting up and following a regular morning routine rather than working in your pajamas all day.
Maintaining work-life boundaries is essential to creating a good work environment at home. There are countless articles available touting the importance of these boundaries (such as this one from the Harvard Business Review), and blurring them can create stress and a feeling like you’re always on for your job.
A few things that I found helped me when I first started working from home:
- Establish a regular morning routine - I don’t do any work before this routine is complete. It includes getting up, getting dressed, making my bed, and having breakfast. It gives me time to put my mind in the right place for getting my work done.
- Establish your working schedule - There will always be exceptions, but you should establish your working schedule and stick to it. If you blur those working hours, you’ll feel like you’re always on until you go to sleep, and you’ll never truly relax.
- Work in a specific area of your home - Ideally, you have a home office, but if not, designate an area of your home where only work gets done. That way, both you and your family understand that when you’re there, you’re working, and you can physically leave your work there at the end of the day.
#2 - Get the internet speed you need.
It’s simple — if your internet connection is slow, your work will suffer.
Keep in mind that during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may need a better package than normal to accommodate your needs, not to mention others in your household. Will all of you demand more from your internet access? You may need to adjust your package to support:
- Online conference calls with screen sharing
- Video conference calls or online classrooms
- Any research entailing video content
- Increased demand for entertainment such as streaming video or online gaming
Fortunately, most providers are offering increased data caps and speeds during the COVID-19 crisis. Check with your own provider to find out what options are available.
#3 - Assemble your essential getting-stuff-done toolkit.
We use a number of tools to help us stay productive as a remote, work-from-home company. Here are just a few that we use everyday:
- Project management: Basecamp - I don’t know where we would be without this project management tool. While it doesn’t have traditional reporting tools such as Gantt charts, the ability to stay on top of projects and connected to your team through chats, to-dos and messages is really valuable. We started using it about 10 years ago and have followed it to its current iteration as an integral part of our everyday process.
- Collaboration: G Suite - With G Suite, we’re able to collaborate with teammates on documents, share spreadsheet data and create sharp slide decks that can be easily shared with our customers. Google’s paid email is included, and with Google Drive, you can set up documents that can be shared with your entire team. You can even set up a Google hangout if you want to do a video conference with your coworkers. Microsoft 365 is another option that I’ve heard good things about and may be more suitable for your business if you use Microsoft products.
- Contracts and estimates: Pandadoc - From a sales and contract perspective, Pandadoc is an excellent solution for getting my contracts online and getting signatures easily from my clients when I need them. The completed documents are easily accessible when needed, and customers get their own completed PDF when they’ve signed a document. We were one of their early adopters, so they even did a case study on us.
- Phone System: Dialpad - You can set yourself up with a main work number, departments, and local numbers for each of your employees. You can use your work number to send text messages, and even set working hours (so that people can’t call you outside of your working hours!). I’ve also worked with phone.com though I didn’t love their interface, and I’ve heard good things about Grasshopper, though I don’t have any personal experience with it.
Setting yourself up to work from home can seem overwhelming at first, but as long as you establish your routine, ensure fast internet access and leverage the proper tools to get your work done, it can be a very rewarding and not-so-stressful experience.
Good luck out there!