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We decided to move to Fort Lauderdale, Florida about 10 months ago for my husband’s dream job. While thrilled for him, I loved my role in Austin and wanted to continue that momentum. Fortunately, Expedia and my leadership team were open to remote work and I began a new chapter working from home.
As an extrovert who loves office life, the first few months were bumpy (to say the least) as I navigated maintaining relationships and establishing a virtual presence. Now that COVID-19 has many companies asking employees to work from home, I hope the results of my trial and error will help you start out on the right foot.
- Create your space: When I pictured myself working remotely, there were always coffee shops involved. Turns out, I need permanent desk space to feel productive. If you’re working from home for a short time or think your location might be fluid, consider one of these portable monitors.
- Set ground rules with your partner or roommate: I’m often on calls when my husband gets home from work and now he’ll text me before he comes into the apartment in case I’m on video. If you have kids, I’ve heard that using stoplight signs can help them understand when you’re in a meeting and can’t be disturbed. With that said, during this unusual time, worry less about husbands or toddlers walking in your camera view. Distractions are welcomed!
- Take advantage of a commute-free life: Use that extra time to exercise, pick up a hobby, or heck, even sleep a bit later. I spend about 30 minutes reading the news or listening to a podcast before my day starts. This helps me go from “at-home Kristen” to “at-work Kristen” even though I’ve only walked 10 feet.
- Leave the laundry for later: It’s tempting to knock out tasks around the house when you’re at home, but it can remove you from the right headspace to do your best work.
- Always put on shoes: It doesn’t have to be shoes, specifically, but find a way to make yourself feel polished and confident. For me, that’s wearing the same outfits I wore to the office.
- Know your weaknesses and practice discipline: I love a good snack and found myself getting up every time I felt overwhelmed by something. Didn’t want to write a hard email? Snack. Repeat. Now, we simply don’t keep any snacks in the house. Whatever your weakness is, work to combat it and ensure it doesn’t creep into your day.
- Find a way to move: Nothing will make you stir-crazy faster than sitting in the same spot for the entire day. It’s important to replace the “exercise” you get walking around the office with something else to keep your energy up. Classpass has 10-minute videos that I’ll occasionally sneak in between meetings.
- Leave at the end of the day: Have a reason to get out of the house for at least an hour. I typically schedule a workout class so I’m forced to shut things down. When I come back, the apartment feels like a home and not an office. With many businesses shut down right now, taking a walk or sitting on our balcony have sufficed.
- Hold virtual hallway conversations: Some of the most productive conversations happen side-of-desk or while walking between meetings. Keep this up by connecting with your team regularly online. My product manager is incredible about slacking me right after meetings to chat through things further and keep me in the loop.
- Always use video: The non-verbal cues that you pick up in an office become even more important for context setting when you’re remote. Hop on video and talk it out as if you were in an office.
- Use virtual collaboration tools: Whether your team is temporarily working from home or you collaborate with global teams, establishing ways to engage outside of the same room is crucial. We use Trello cards for virtual brainstorms and rely heavily upon Google docs and Confluence to visually track progress.
Kristen James is Senior Product Marketing Manager and authored this article
Almost a year in, working from home has made me a better professional. I’m more productive, more self-assured, and more disciplined. The most surprising benefit is that I’m more empathetic and inclusive to teams who work outside of HQ.
Establishing good practices now will give you more flexibility in the future. If you’re working from home due to COVID-19, think of this as a trial run to understand if remote work is for you in the long term.