Work from home used to be a sometime thing, and then it became an all-the-time thing. So, be it sometime or all-the-time, how can it work for you?
How This Works for You
Set your schedule
Setting a schedule for yourself will help maintain a healthy work-life balance. Working remote makes it easy to fall into a habit of working around the clock. Just because we are at home doesn’t mean we can’t get burnt out, so adhere to your office’s typical in-person working hours as much as possible. Unless there is a deadline to meet or urgent matter, keep your typical “out of office” time as-is. We have all been working remote long enough to respect the boundaries that would still be in place if we were in person.
One of the greatest things about working from home is the flexibility it allows. You gain some time back in your day by losing a commute, so decide how you want to use that time. I am a big believer that doing something before work helps make it feel like work is not the only thing you do all day. Implement a workout, go outside, make a nice breakfast or read. The same goes for your post-work wind down. Usually, you get a little time to yourself in the car on the way home to listen to some music, podcasts or even just sit in silence. Now, that typical time is gone, but it’s still just as important to implement time to unwind.
It’s not as easy for your team to see when you are starting work, busy working on a project, or ending work. It’s helpful to implement time blocking on your calendar so you can dedicate time to projects for not only your own time management, but for your team to have visibility into what you are working on. While this may not prevent meetings from being scheduled over your time blocks, this could at least help the organizer ask to ensure setting a meeting at that time is okay with you. This gives you the chance to let them know if you absolutely need to get something done, or if you are flexible enough to join.
Keep up professional development
Unfortunately, the days of traveling for a training, trade show or convention are still out of sight for this year. However, this doesn’t mean it’s no longer important to keep up your professional development. Companies are still offering webinars and online trainings to keep your knowledge base sharp. While you attend these online events, still treat it as though you were there in person. Don’t let yourself get distracted by email or chats and stay focused on the topic at hand. Set yourself as out of office so everyone knows when to expect to hear back from you again.
How This Works with Your Team
Maintain empathy for schedules
Another hurdle we face as we all work from home is syncing up schedules with our team. For the most part, we are typically all working at the same time. However, those with kids especially may have to work odd hours in order to accommodate their additional role of daytime caretaking. This makes it imperative to provide thoughtful feedback on items you are working on together since you two may not be able to connect throughout the day to talk through potential miscommunications. Additionally, if you do need to connect “live”, don’t be afraid to hop on a video call when they are free. Asking for that permission and setting a time with them is a great way to get on the same page while still respecting each other’s workloads.
Don’t lose sight of fun interactions
One of the biggest things I miss about being in the office is the small chat with my coworkers. Now, there’s no one to talk to when I am waiting for coffee to brew or lunch to heat up in the microwave. One way to maintain the human interaction is starting off internal calls by checking in to see how others are doing or asking about their weekend plans. This helps the mood feel a little lighter, and a little less like everything is only focused on work. If you’re not on a call, this can easily be added into chat conversations, or even emails. Additionally, based on everyone’s comfort levels, another option is socially distanced meet ups. Get your immediate team together and grab a coffee outside to simply catch up or collaborate on a project. You’ll quickly get back that dearly missed in-person interaction with your team.
Get on video calls
At this point, I am sure a lot of us are feeling a little Zoom fatigue and might try to avoid getting on video calls if possible. We used to be able to quickly grab someone and chat in person. However, now video meetings are really the only way for us to read each other and gauge if someone is truly hearing what you are saying, or not. Hopping on a call also helps expedite the collaboration process versus having to wait on each other’s email responses. While on the call, stay as present as possible so you aren’t distracted by email, chats, or phone calls. It’s okay to get back to anyone who is pinging you, and if it’s a truly urgent matter, they will let you know.
How This Works with Your Clients
Don’t lose your personal touch
One of the best parts of working at an agency is the chance to interface and build relationships with so many different clients. At Zion & Zion, when clients come to our office, they know we are open and fun, but also get down to business. While most interactions are now virtual, it’s still crucial to keep up the small chat to maintain that social connection. From setting up virtual coffee dates to remembering to send nice notes on birthdays or personal milestones, we can still maintain open and fun interactions.
Integrate into their working style
This topic is something that can be maintained whether we are working at home or not, but it’s helpful to integrate yourself as much as possible into your clients desired way of working. For example, you can join their chat systems for easy access to one another, which greatly expedites time receiving feedback or collaborating. Or, if you know your client is more visual, be prepared to show mockups or visual examples whenever possible during your video calls.
With so much happening via email now, it can also be easy to get lost in the mix of their inbox. Make sure to keep your messages succinct and to the point and look for opportunities to round up information and send it to them at once, versus sending several separate emails.
Get proactive about opportunities
We have all been living and working through a pandemic for long enough that businesses finally realize the importance of their digital presence, services, and offerings. Look for opportunities to analyze your client’s customer base to determine if the way they interact with their customers needs to change. Should online ordering be implemented? Is information on their website out of date and in need of a refresh? As we grow through this together, we can help implement ways to keep their businesses competitive and up with the times.
We have yet to see a clear end to this road, but we have indeed done a great job not just adapting, but leveraging work from home.