Top 5 Home Office Tips
Roomzilla is all about the office and – let’s face it – our current business depends on you showing up to it; however, in the meantime to help out – using our experience in making the real office experience better and better along with our in depth understanding of the elements that power it – we can take our extensive years of helping make the office that much more effective, and apply that to the quarantined home office, a concept we’re all getting familiar with.
Without further delay, here are 5 tips we hope will improve the current “office normal” for both employees and managers:
- You Are Now the Boss – You may report into someone, but unless you are waking up with them, ultimately, you are the boss in the sense that you decide how to best organize your day among projects & tasks. Before you managers out there get the wrong idea, this is not a call for workplace revolution, but rather highlighting the often underappreciated skill set of the level of self discipline working from home requires. Basically you have to “boss” yourself into focusing on work and remember, it is still an office just with home added to it. One area that can often be new for people just beginning their journey within working from home full time is the effect of two worlds meeting & blurring, i.e. the often personal one (home) with the professional one (office). Psychologists refer to it as Home Office Syndrome. What makes it even more difficult (for both home office newbs and experienced digital nomads) is the current reason for the home setup – namely the pandemic – which not only keeps members of the family, partners, roommates and others at home, but also adds stress & concerns associated with such a situation, sometimes making it difficult to keep personal separated from professional. When you find yourself struggling being your own home boss, speak with your actual boss (or at least colleagues) and work on a regiment & understanding together that suits all sides.
- Categorize – The above would be easier if it wasn’t for not only the collision of personal & professional worlds but also the unavoidable “cabin fever” stemming from the state of quarantine. As already mentioned, schedule the day and work with others both at home and at work to balance the overlapping worlds. Working like you do in an office when you’re sharing responsibilities such as children, may not have your own desk, and even doing crucial shopping is just sometimes not going to be possible. Here you can divide your work into categories: work that requires other’s attention /collaboration should be done during what would normally constitute work hours while work on items that you can solely do, can be scheduled outside of such hours. Nothing about the current setup is normal, so how can you expect to do the normal routine. Practically the whole planet has to adjust along with you so you’re not the only one. Just remember, this is not about working 24 hours a day now, and it will still be key to take breaks and balance with personal time, especially for the much needed highly controlled grocery shopping time.
- Wear Pants – or at least whatever it is you would normally wear covering the lower half of your body. Part of creating some semblance of the office routine at home is, you guessed it, dressing up in something other than your pajamas. No one is saying to put on a suit unless you’re doing a video call within a situation that requires it. In fact casual wear can also add to the much needed feeling of relaxation during this highly stressful time; however, there is something about keeping a professional routine going to add to a more productive home office environment. That’s the ultimate point here: it’s not just about dressing up but doing your best to keep the routine going, even your coffee/tea/insert favorite beverage breaks. Sure you may no longer have the expensive coffee machine that lovingly makes your favorite caffeinated experience, and your coffee machine chat may now be limited but anything you can do to keep that workplace familiarity alive will help.
- (No) Video Conferencing – There have been numerous articles and media pieces about what amazing video conference tools are out there; however, video is not always being used. Steve Cole, a professor of medicine, psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine recently was quoted in the Washington Post as saying ““Humans are just really intrinsically social creatures. We are the most extreme example of a species that’s decided that collaborating with others is going to be my entire strategy” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2020/03/17/coronavirus-social-distancing/). With that being said, technology available right now should be encouraged to be used to the fullest. How many times have your messenger chats been misunderstood because simple words cannot convey tonality (whether joking or serious)? Conference calls with video are now the closest thing to “face to face” office interaction we have and it can keep participants engaged in the call more, simply because they are visible but also as more of the 5 senses have been activated, our level of communication & engagement improves. So what are you going to do, force everyone now to switch on video? No, but encouraging video if it has not been used and gradually getting people acquainted with it is a good step here.
- Not Too Late to Collaborate – and that leads us to the next topic of collaborative tech in general: it’s the 21st century and – while we don’t have seamless holographic conferencing or chip embedded telepathy driven collaboration, we have tools nevertheless that can replicate it well enough with the right setup. Throughout the web & media we can find more and more articles such as this one from Inc.com (along with a link to the Microsoft reference it makes) claiming that remote is here to stay. Well, it was here to stay even before the pandemic as numerous outlets were reporting on that for years with one example being from the American Psychological Association; however, the pandemic is certainly going to help seal it as a growing option further. Referring to the earlier views about humans being a social animal and another article we recently published, we here at Roomzilla believe in a more hybrid option whereby the office and its benefits will live in harmony with remote and its pluses. Having said that, now is even more the time to do a review of the tools your company uses and their ability to support this new harmony with one major feature that should be included: seamless & intuitive realtime team collaboration. If your online tool (especially one that is used frequently by most of the team) does not have it, time to say goodbye. Self discipline and home setup is one part of making the new normal work, technology another, but a well integrated collaboration setup is absolutely critical as well. It’s not just about messenger and email … it’s also about how these tools work together empowering your team to do their best no matter where they are based.
- Bonus Tip – lock your computer when you’re not around it (yes even though you’re at home). This tip is especially for parents of younger children. Regardless of how understanding everyone may be during this period, your company & team may not appreciate your clever little one playing around with your email, chat, or even better: the admin panel.
Hopefully you can get some use from the above making your challenging time, actually a productive and more enjoyable time. We also can’t wait for a return to business as usual or at least a return to something similar to it. Nevertheless, good luck for now!