The New Normal - Working at Home
Sharing Our Wisdom Ellen Galinsky March 13, 2020
What WAS the exception—working at home—IS now the rule for all of us who can work at home.It’s the new normal.
For decades, I have studied workplace flexibility at the Families and Work Institute and have managed teams of telecommuters. I have also been working exclusively at home for the past four years.
This is our forum to share what works, what doesn’t work and how we are managing these crazy times! I will post a few times a week and hope to hear from you. We have a new study on flexibility coming out and I will share the results soon.
Understandably, there are many of us who can’t work at home because our jobs involve direct services to others. You hopefully are finding ways to self-distance too and I hope you will share your wisdom.
To begin, here’s the wisdom of my team, all of whom have been telecommuting for the past four years with me.
Six Superpowered Tips from my Team to You!
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. Even if you are going out for a walk, tell your colleagues when you are available and when you aren’t. We have team meetings once a week to talk about what we are doing, to set goals for the week, and to brainstorm problems. In between, we pick up the phone and speak live to each other.
- Set Boundaries. When you are at home, you can work all of the time. So, set boundaries. What time are you beginning, what time are you stopping work for the day and when are you taking breaks? YES, take breaks. You will burn out otherwise. One of my team members said she stayed at the computer all day when she began working at home, waiting, just in case something happened. She did frizzle out. We also text when we need each other.
- Prioritize. What do you want to get done today? Set that as a goal and try to make it happen. We all know that we are more productive at home since there aren’t work distractions. For sure, there are home distractions and we will talk about that soon.
- Get to know your own work rhythms. When are you most productive? Early in the morning? At night?Set that time aside and if you need to limit electronic distractions, talk with your team about how you can do so.
- Set aside a workspace, I ordered moving tables (like hospital table trays) and moving files so I can find the right place to work. That changes, depending on who is in my house. And get dressed (HA—I am in my bathrobe writing this). You will feel better if you get ready for work physically.
- Use electronic tools. We are having meetings by Zoom, and it is actually a great equalizer. If we are looking at each other as we do on Zoom calls with our teams inside or outside of work, I have found we listen to each other better and more respectfully.
What have you learned. Share your tips with us and others!