Everyone’s circumstances have changed as we’ve settled into a sheltered-in-place lifestyle. What started as a strange intermission marked by lower accountability and lack of structure has morphed into the norm for the foreseeable future.
If you’re one of the many working from home this spring, productivity and professionalism remain as important as ever despite the new scenery. Video calls are now de rigueur for most companies, and managers are still expecting the same output as pre-pandemic days. Yet ingrained home-life habits seem directly at odds with these expectations. Sitting in bed, living in sweats—these things aren’t conducive to staying on track for a successful quarter, and they won’t inspire confidence from your colleagues, either.
So rather than risk letting May become a wash, now is the time to re-evaluate your WFH situation and ensure you’re set up for success. Here’s our guide to making the most of the current situation:
In the early days there was novelty to working in bed or from the couch. Your set-up was based on your usual at-home habits and seemed like a fine fix for the time being. But as the situation morphs from a week or two into months, “just good enough” should give way to striving for greatness.
Just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to do. Your customers, managers, and employees are still in touch, and more than likely over video conference calls. Recognizing this and pulling together an organized space is essential to getting you back into your best headspace for working.
- Create a designated workspace at a desk, table, or counter where you can sit upright.
- Try to set up your computer at eye level—it’ll create much less strain on your neck and back plus it’ll make for a more flattering angle in video.
- Take a second look at your video conference background and make sure it’s clean and minimal. Try to avoid strong lights directly in view as they can throw your computers video cam.
- Make sure you have good lighting in your workspace. It’s tough to do your best work if it’s dark and dreary, plus you’ll want your face well lit for all those video calls.
When it all started sweats and t-shirts were the obvious choice, but that was out of habit—a default to the clothing one would naturally wear at home. But as we settle into the new normal, professionalism remains as important as it ever was.
Video conference calls are more accepted and even expected in ways they weren’t before. Don’t be surprised when your client or manager expects to just “hop on a video call real quick.” If you’re not prepared, it will leave you looking just that—unprepared.
The benefits of thinking through your appearance at home are twofold: it allows you to get in the right state of mind to do great work, and it sends a message to anyone on your video call that you’re a capable professional.
- Good hygiene is the foundation of a presentable appearance and kick starts you on your way to getting into a productive headspace. Shower. Groom your beard. Shave. Comb your hair. The basics, right? It’s never been more important to execute them.
- Looking presentable on screen means hitting the sweet spot between relaxed and refined. A suit and tie feels out of place while a beat-up flannel shirt signals you’re in off-duty mode.
- Your face is primarily what people see on video conferences. So a refined, well-groomed beard and facial hair is key to looking like you didn't just roll out of bed. Using conditioners like beard butter and beard oil provide a sharp look at home or in the boardroom.
The usual Monday-Friday routine has gone out the window, and the lack of a commute and standardized hours means we’ve likely defaulted to existing weekend-at-home habits, that are unfortunately not conducive to our best work. The trouble here is that it’s not as easy as stopping existing habits—you need to start new ones.
Building structure into the day can be key to keeping your workflow moving. Take a second to think about the daily tasks that can provide a framework for you, rather than simply trying to recreate your office habits at home.
“If you focus on changing or cultivating keystone habits, you can cause widespread shifts.”
- Get to bed at a consistent, reasonable hour each night. Consistent sleep times are linked to longer and more high quality sleep, which will set the stage for the formation of other important habits.
- Take your meals at consistent times. Having each one slotted in will break up your day into manageable chunks and significantly help with your time management.
- Exercise. It’s so easy to let this go now that you can’t go to the gym or be outside for too long, but getting your heart rate up even for a short time will do much for your physical and mental health.
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