Most of MSM’s 250 staff members in 29 countries work from home. We asked them for some helpful tips to pass on to our partners who are just starting their homework. Here is what we came up with:
GET UP, GET DRESSED, AND GO TO WORK!
- Follow a morning routine. Follow a morning routine. Your routine could be to have coffee, a light breakfast, and a review of Facebook, Linkedin, and other social media for the latest news and updates.
- Get dressed. This is so important – it is so easy to get started at work without getting dressed. If you don’t get dressed you will tend to avoid other things that you should do during the day, like going for a walk, or just taking a break.
- Set up your workplace away from your regular living space. This helps you to walk away for breaks and at the end of the day. Your workplace should be a quiet place without any disturbances, with good lighting useful for video calls. Make your workplace look like your office space to give you motivation to work well. Even if it’s a temporary workplace, make sure that everyone knows that when you are there, you are at work and should not be disturbed.
PLAN YOUR WORK
- Plan your deliverables for the day. Make a list, check to see if it is reasonable, and then get started on it. Create an Excel sheet where you note time on and what you did. Not because someone is asking for this but because you want to be accountable for your time and can really answer the accountability question if someone asks. Don’t be surprised if it takes you longer to do things than you think;sometimes it’s 10 to 15 minutes but can take much more.
- Be flexible – working at home comes with the privilege and opportunity to schedule life. This means you can go to an appointment with a child or a friend and then continue your work later. If you have created a good action plan and accountability system, you can easily demonstrate to yourself and your employer that you met work expectations for the day. You deliver great work when you’re at your best: if you’re a morning person you naturally get a lot done early in the morning.
- When you are working a full day at home, it’s good to set an alarm for 90 minutes – when it goes off, give yourself a brain break. Go for a walk, take on a quick household chore – anything that gets you standing up, walking around and away from the computer screen.
DON’T WORK ALONE
- Rather than just email and messaging platforms, encourage the use of online conference meetings where you can see and talk to team members. Remember how easily written messages can be misinterpreted. Video conferencing helps us to hear/see tone, body language and feelings. Have regular video calls with the team, to motivate them and ensure that everyone is on track. It takes extra effort to keep everyone in the loop when you are all working in physical isolation.
- Make voice contact with someone every day. Make voice contact with someone every day. The world can be a lonely place when you are at home. Social media, email, and text messaging are all great ways to communicate, but we all need other people, and laughter and real-time engagement.
WORK – LIFE BALANCE
- Avoid calls, texts or Whatsapp during real off hours by turning your ringer off, especially if you are working across multiple national and international time zones. You can always check your phone every hour or so when you are awake if you wish to, but make sure not to be too distracted during personal time (especially sleep time).
- Eat on time. It is easy to get engrossed in work that you may miss your usual lunch time. It is good to set an alarm to do so. When working from home, one also has an advantage to share meals with the family.
- If you are not well, stop working and take care of yourself. Let your boss know that you are sick and have your work assigned to someone else to avoid delayed deadlines. Your health is the single most important thing!
Working from home gives you more free time (no to/from work commuting), saves money (you don’t go out for lunch or buy coffee), and it is a big plus to the environment. Do it with these few tips and advice in mind and you will have a pleasant and productive work experience.