Now that America is starting to open back up following this COVID-19 pandemic, how does this affect your career and working environment?
Will you be returning to the office or continuing to work from home?
If your home office is looking like it will become or remain your permanent working environment, keep reading to discover the top ways to ensure your productivity, sanity, and happiness all remain efficient, controlled, and vibrant!
What Can I Do To Ensure My Home Office and Environment Are Set Up Properly?
1. Actually Set Up Your Office or Workspace
If you have been stuck working from your kitchen table, bedroom, or children's art table, it is time to actually set up your office or nook so that you can be primed for productivity.
Winging your office or work environment isn't going to cut it for much longer. It's time to decide where and how you will work best while we adjust to this new corporate culture shock.
2. Set Firm Boundaries with Family Now that this is Permanent.
While you can't stop all interruptions while working from home, now is a good time to set the appropriate boundaries with children and your significant other.
For those that are still fortunate to be working, now is the time to be present and step up your remote working game.
Let friends and family members know when your meetings or calls are going to be each day or post them up on the refrigerator so all can see and be notified when you are off limits.
3. Set up expectations with your team and direct reports.
Discussing your schedule and expectations with family is only one piece of the puzzle.
If you are home, co-workers and direct reports can't see that your door is closed or that you are on the phone and not to be interrupted.
Be sure to set up proper "statuses" with your email or corporate messenger software of choice so that they know when you are available for direction or questions.
Or go ahead and be proactive and set up times during the day that you will automatically touch base to check in and see what has come up throughout the day. This physically and mentally decreases interruptions when others know that they will be speaking with you anyways and there is no need to reach out each and every time issues arise.
Connecting with your team by sending video updates on Vidyard is a great way to provide status updates without having to schedule another meeting.
4. Step up your health and productivity game.
Having been working from home for some time now, you should have a pretty good idea of the times of day that you and your home environment are the most productive.
If your family is made up of a bunch of night owls, get to bed a bit earlier and knock out some Deep Work while they are all still asleep.
If you aren't used to using any productivity software, then you should look into some of the latest and greatest on the market and maximize the discounts that these companies are providing.
(If you are interested better software, we have compiled some of the best and cheapest, here: https://www.citetech.com/blog/the-best-remote-work-software-deals-to-avoid-covid-19)
If they are early risers, then deal with the immediate issues throughout the middle of the work day and save your deeper or more thoughtful work for later in the evening when everyone is winding down.
And as for health, your "busy-ness" is really getting old as an excuse... isn't it?
Make the best out of the time you have been given back with no commute or dropping the kids off at school or sports and invest just half of it towards exercise.
Or, just remove the excuse of "not knowing where to start" and hire a health coach.
5. Look into Hiring a Virtual Assistant
Seems outlandish, right?
"Me, with an assistant?"
But it isn't as crazy as it sounds.
There are many great VA companies that have really stepped their game up and since they are strictly remote, no one has to know you are using them.
Cheap help, no overhead, and look like a rockstar to your peers and managers.
Safety and Productivity If Heading Back To A Corporate Office
Although things are opening back up, don't expect to be heading back to the same culture that you left prior to the lockdown.
There's a new normal and adjustment period everyone is going to go through as we open up our offices, get more comfortable being around co-workers, and serving customers face-to-face.
If you are returning to an office, here are a few tips that can keep you and your co-workers safe as well as keep the corporate culture welcoming and productive!
1. Ensure you're protecting your health.
Be to sure follow safety guidelines: masks, hand-washing, and interacting further than 6ft away from one another. If you're feeling unwell, stay home to prevent spreading anything to others.
2. Define what new expectations look like with your team.
If you are leading a team, be sure to set the expectations with your direct reports and answer any questions that they may have about returning to their desk and workspace.
3. Give yourself time to continue adjusting back into a normal routine and life balance.
There is nothing "normal" about the new normal. We get it.
But adding more stress to an already taxed immune system is not what you need.
Give yourself some grace and time to adjust. Thinking you are just going to pick up right where you left off prior to the COVID-19 pandemic is setting some unrealistic expectations for yourself and your team.
Have empathy and give it some time. Cohesive teams will thrive again!
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