The world has turned upside down. I was recently on group zoom call with some fellow entrepreneurs when the conversation turned to the challenges of working from home. These days, our friends are joking about leaving the house early and going to work for a break on Friday afternoons. It’s not the twilight zone but it is the new reality of being forced to work from home during a pandemic.
For many small business owners, working from home is nothing new. For their teams who are used to always being in a structured office environment, being forced to work from home is often a major challenge. Screaming kids, barking dogs, loud lawn guys (who always show up right in the middle of that zoom meeting YOU are presenting on), and the groundhogs days drag of life without a change of scenery can all but kill your productivity.
Yet working remotely has many advantages that should not be overlooked. When done right, working remotely can boost productivity and help your entire team accomplish more than ever before. For starters, working remotely can help you claw back 1-2 hours of productive time by eliminating the drive to work. Without unscheduled office drop-ins from co-workers, you can also accomplish more of those higher-level tasks that require concentration time that is hard to come by with today’s common open door policies. How can you and your team maximize productivity during this rare opportunity where everyone is forced out of the office? Here are a few of the techniques we use to crush our productivity goals while running our nationwide company to thrive in a remote work environment:
1. Setup Slack or another instant messaging platform to create easy intuitive communication pathways when you can’t get up and go talk with people in the office. Our team uses Slack every day and it successfully makes communication seamless whether you are right next to each other or across the country. The ability to both communicate and share files over the same communication medium is incredibly valuable and time-saving.
2. Zoom liberally. While many companies are used to using a tool like Zoom, Webex, or Teams to have meetings with outsiders, this is the first major time movement for small companies to begin using video conferencing inside of their own local teams. Human beings need social interaction and seeing each other helps. Get everyone on your team an inexpensive webcam and meet virtually including video as much as you can. At our company, we even use Zoom to host virtual happy hours. You likely spend as much time with your work family as your home family. Keep spirits high by closing the communications gap with video and screen sharing.
3. Use time blocks and stick to a schedule. When working remotely distractions can come from anywhere. Our team has had success with rigid time blocking and scheduling and you can too. Before the day gets started organize your calendar into blocks of time to handle specific tasks. To make yourself feel good, change the calendar entry by putting an “X” in front of the calendar entry title when you finish a task as a visual when it’s complete. This technique helps keep you on schedule and motivated to complete tasks on time so you can “X” them off the list and know what’s coming next. Be sure to allow a reasonable time for breaks and legitimate distractions. Be sure to schedule meetings and time blocks around your known distractions such as your turn on kid duty and the morning lawn man visit.
4. Dedicate workspace and living space. The last thing you want to do is have your home become a center for work stress. To avoid this, I recommend allocating dedicated space to where you will work and where you will live and have family time. This also helps with the mental shift from home life to work life when you start work in the morning and when you return to home life at the end of the day. I find that spatial separation is key to making sure I don’t snap back into work thoughts during family time and can have better work/life balance – which is critical during a forced work from home scenario and this stressful “always on” world we live in.
Nobody likes being forced into any situation like working from home. Hopefully some of these tactics will help you turn this great challenge we all face together into a terrific opportunity to use new tools and crush your goals with a newfound ability to work from anywhere.
President of On Call Computer Solutions
On Call Computer Solutions is an award winning nationwide Managed IT Services company founded right here in Tallahassee, Florida. For over 17 years Mike has been growing On Call while working and managing multiple teams remotely and helping clients reach their next level through managed technology solutions.