Are you a work from home pro, or beginner? While more and more people are working from home, it’s important to remember that working from home can be very different from working in the office. Our office started to work from home this week, and while some of my coworkers are pros, some of us are figuring this out for the first time. However, we’ve been sharing our insights and learning from each other. Team member Chris was on vacation, but I surveyed the rest of the team to see how they are doing in their new work environment. I share the Q&A below, but first, a game!
What’s your “Desk Guess”?
Can you guess which desk belongs to which team member? I will share the answer at the bottom of this post.
Granular Team Q &A
Q: So far, what is your #1 tip to stay focused while working remotely from home?
Amanda: I took Roy to the dog park Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and he’s in daycare this whole week (he was supposed to be there full-time for my now-cancelled vacation), so having a very tired dog is my tip! Plus, if all you can really do during quarantine is go outside for solo walks, might as well take your dog!
Anna: Actually cook something for lunch to force yourself out of your desk – I did this both Monday and Tuesday and it helped me focus on myself for a little bit and stay away from my desk over lunch (which normally I do…)
Ian: I set mini-goals for myself for what I need to accomplish before I get up from my desk. Once I get up from my desk, I usually do something that gets me away from a screen so I have a moment to recharge
Jaime: Compartmentalize – “this is my work space” vs “this is my personal space” “this is my work time” vs “this is my free time”. That’s not to say you need to work 8 hours in a row with no breaks, take time to do little nonwork things whenever it is needed this will help you stay present when you are working.
Jeremy: Get dressed and ready like I’m going to work to have as minimal change in my routine as possible. I also like eating lunch in a different area of my house.
Jordon: Keep as similar routine as possible; shower, dress for work, do my normal work routine in the morning and follow the calendar closely.
Justin: Have a goal for number of hours logged and hit that goal every day. I’ve found this to be helpful since I haven’t been able to keep to a “normal” routine or work schedule.
MacKenzie: Sit in the right chair! If it’s too comfortable, I get more distracted. If it’s not comfortable, I get up too often.
Maggie: Set up a workspace by a bright sunny window and let some fresh air in. Keep a plant or two nearby.
Mike: Communicate with other members of your household about what your needs are and the time boundaries you have. Other people in the house can just assume you’re available because you’re home. But, that shouldn’t be the case. You’re still at work and that boundary should be respected.
Rob: Sticking to the same schedule / morning routine. Being ready to go at my desk at my normal time helps maintain a sense of normalcy.
Steve: Having a dedicated work station at home
Q: What do you think will be the biggest distraction for you?
Amanda: Any mess in my peripherals – feeling like I need to clean up/do chores around the house
Anna: My pets!
Ian: the news and my large, needy dog
Jaime: Having someone else in the house during the day while I am working
Jeremy: Corona-related news
Jordon: The fridge, the dogs, wondering the house in general.
MacKenzie: The people around me.
Maggie: The smell of Patrick Cudahy bacon.
Mike: My wife is not working right now.
Rob: Trying to stay up to date on everything that’s going on in the world right now.
Steve: Funny enough, email. Now that I’m in front of the computer more, just making it a point to not have my email perpetually open.
Q: How does your wardrobe vary from office to home life?
Amanda: Not much – fewer cardigans & sweaters because i can wear a blanket with no shame
Anna: The exact same minus wearing shoes!
Ian: Not much of a difference. I’m just not wearing shoes.
Jaime: A lot more casual at home actually. When I first started working from home 6 years ago, I used to get fully dressed up like I was going to work, but I found I was more productive when I was comfortable and could easily transition from small breaks with movement focused activities and back to work as needed.
Jeremy: No change really. I’m wearing shoes still. Ha!
Jordon: It’s the same as in the office, but I do feel like I “wasted” that outfit on just sitting at home all day.
Justin: It’s the same so far, except that I’ve been wearing my scrubbier “home only” sweatshirt and slippers, because my basement is cold.
MacKenzie: No change for me, but we work in a casual office so I’m normally wearing pretty casual stuff.
Maggie: Not a whole lot – to stay focused and be productive I still need to have the routine of getting ready in the morning, and with that routine comes the regular selection of clothes. Minus shoes!
Rob: A little more casual than what I’d wear to the office. No daily collared shirt yet for me.
Steve: I don’t really wear shoes in the house, so that’s the main difference. That and a lower frequency of collared shirts making their way into my wardrobe.
Q: How do you stay socially connected to your team?
Amanda: Slack – we talk more there than in person in the office sometimes anyway!
Anna: Slack – talking more via this than having random arguments with Chris in the backspace.
Jaime: Slack/Zoom. It is good to use your voice a couple times during the day. In one of my previous remote positions I could go days without talking to someone during the work day and you’d be surprised how that affects you
Jeremy: Slack and smoke signals. One puff of smoke means raise bids 10%. Two puffs means don’t forget to double-check your location targeting.
Jordon: Slack and Zoom keep things pretty normal.
Justin: Slack. Scheduled client calls with other team members
Mike: Not to be a party popper, but I have a pretty full social life outside of work, so I’m mostly just focused on productivity during work hours. With that said, I try to hop in on things if appropriate.
Rob: Not all that different than normal – Slack
Steve: Slack chat in the general channel, as well as making it use the DM feature of Slack to connect with colleagues. Also, finding ways to get together with colleagues outside without physically interacting with each other. Exploring doing this for instance by going on runs alongside (but not near) each other.
Q: How do you keep work life different from home life?
Amanda: Different space – I moved my home desktop down to the basement and reset my desk to be work-centric
Anna: I set up my “office” in a different room that I never use so it’s become my work only space and only during the usual work hours. I also rarely go on a computer outside of work, so just making sure I focus on reading, going outside, doing home chores etc.
Ian: My desk is in a designated office room. When I’m out of the room, I’m not working
Jaime: That is a question for a whole other Q&A since Granular has always been a part of my home life. But in general, my tips are to close the office door when you are not working. Shut off the laptop. Make plans for daily activities that don’t involve work.
Jeremy: l feel like I’m always online, but it usually comes down to a dedicated office/mindset of working or not working.
Jordon: It’s always been a bit blended….that’s why Granular is a thing 🙂
Justin: I’m in the basement when I work. Christa and the boy(s) are upstairs. When I’m upstairs and taking care of the boys, I’m not working. It helps me stay present in the moment when I’m with family so they aren’t impacted by my working from home (as much).
MacKenzie: I try to make sure all of my home life chores are done before I start my work day. That way, I don’t feel distracted by those things. And I sit in the corner of the room so I don’t see all the stuff around my house so that helps a little.
Maggie: Mindset – my apartment is tiny and my workspace is also my artspace so it’s hard to separate the two any way other than being mentally aware of the time and what needs to be done. Writing to-do lists helps.
Mike: Time boundaries. I try as hard as I can to not do any personal tasks during work hours. It doesn’t always work out that way, but for the most part it does.
Rob: Trying to keep as few distractions around me as possible. Sticking to my daily work hours helps keep me in my normal routine.
Steve: Maintain routine as much as possible. Get ready and start my day at the same time. Set expectations with my family and friends that just because I’m technically at home, I’m still working normal business hours.
Q: What do you expect the biggest change will be from working at home vs at the office?
Amanda: No commute, won’t need to put on makeup, can take my dog for a midday walk easier
Anna: Not actually seeing people and having anyone to “talk” to.” I really love the idea of having an internal zoom for happy hour or coffee time etc.
Ian: The days seem a lot slower. Less interaction with other people
Jaime: One of my roles at Granular is to support sales & employees in any way possible. With everyone being remote I need to get creative and figure out how to do my job efficiently
Jeremy: Slightly less FreshFin Poké for lunch, but I’m still going to try to order it for delivery. Zoom meetings over in-person meetings.
Jordon: Fewer sugary snacks at home, unfortunately. I’ll miss the random team interactions we have in the office the most.
Justin: Irregular schedule. No daycare. Balancing work and taking care of the kids with Christa. Before, I had a very good balance between work and home (rarely did work at home), but now I’m treating every day, including weekends as, “well, I’m ‘working’ all day but with breaks throughout to take care of home stuff.”
MacKenzie: Not being able to just talk to somebody or grab a coffee with the team when I need a quick break.
Maggie: Honestly, running out to grab coffee or lunch. It doesn’t seem like much, but it helps break the day up, switch up environments briefly and regain focus.
Mike: Working a full day. When you’re at the office, you don’t have the opportunity to do other things because you’re in a different environment. At home, you will be tempted to work less. This is why it’s important to block everything else out. If you have an idea to do something personal, put it on a separate to-do list for later.
Rob: More internal Zoom meetings. Feeling a bit more isolated without the commute or running out for coffee / lunch.
Steve: A big part of my job is connecting with individuals who are evaluating using Granular’s services. If those individuals are in the state or in nearby states, I try to make it a point to connect in person during that process. So for me, it’s incorporating Zoom video, screencasts and “video voicemails” into the sales process.
Expert WFH-ers Weigh In
Q: Any words of wisdom, tips/tricks from the experienced remote workers?
- Create a routine that works for you. This goes for pre-work or after-work hours too. I know certain days of the week I have certain set activities in the morning and others in the afternoon on other days. Sticking to these activities really keeps me grounded and sets me up for a productive work week. It also clearly defines and separates Monday-Friday from Saturday & Sunday.
- Tweak your routine and reset when necessary. I will have to change and tweak my routine due to the social distancing atmosphere, but it will be a nice change of pace to reset and refocus
- I like to eat a small healthy snack every two hours, a good excuse to leave the desk and move around a little
- If you are not productive because there is a stack of dishes in the sink and it is driving you crazy, stop what you are doing and do the dishes. It will make feel better and clear your mind for the task at hand
- If something work-related comes to mind and you are not working, take a note (Google Keep) and continue with your current non-work related activity. You don’t always need to drop what you’re doing and address it, but you also don’t want to forget it.
- Take more frequent short breaks to break up the day and work in shorter, intense spurts.
- If you’re meeting with a client, wear a decent shirt above those sweat pants :).
- Don’t try to eat and work at the same time. I tried that early in my career and I would bring food to my desk and it would never get eaten because I was focused on my work.
- Eat healthier. A carb-loaded lunch in your cozy apartment or house spells doom.
- Work when you’re most productive. For some people, it may be at 10p and others it’s at 7a. With the flexibility of “office hours,” take advantage of the times that fit you best. Of course, you’ll have to be online during peak hours, but make your schedule more flexible if it helps with productivity.
- Exercise in the middle of the day. Get your blood pumping somehow. It will carry you through your afternoon and make it more productive because you’ll be more alert.
What have you done to work from home? Have you changed your routine or updated your workspace? And how much are you using slack to keep in touch with your coworkers? Let us know and give us your tips and tricks!
“Desk Guess” Answers