New to working from home? You are not alone. As I sit on my couch, fishing for my pencil in between the cushions, wondering where the nearest outlet is; I find myself looking for tips to be productive from home. I had the opportunity to interview our offsite team members Julian Colbert and Kim Latham, who have adapted to working from home with many years of experience.
Julian Colbert is our Estimating and Sourcing Wizard based in Texas. Julian is our go-to guy to find almost anything!
Kim Latham is a Senior Account Manager who has been working remotely from Wisconsin for longer than many of us have been employed by Creatacor!
Each has excelled working remotely, and have some helpful tips for those of us making the transition.
Hannah: Let’s start with the most debated question – What to wear? Business casual or pajamas?
Julian: Certain clothes set the tone for your day. I say getting dressed for work is very important. Keep a normal routine – shower, shave, and dress for work every day; even if you don’t have a conference call or video chat.
Kim: I have mixed feelings on this one. Some days I definitely stick to sweatpants and a t-shirt but it is good for the mind to properly get dressed. Plus, who has enough sweats to actually wear them every day? ?
J: If you wear your favorite pajamas, your brain will start associating the pajamas with work. This will turn your Saturday morning ritual of milling around in pajamas into something that feels like work, because you wore them to work earlier in the week.
H: I tend to lean towards comfort. What is wrong with fuzzy socks? Let’s agree that maintaining a routine of self hygiene and clean clothes are acceptable when reporting to work, digitally. So now that we are dressed in a button down and sweatpants, where do you set up shop?
K: My office is downstairs & away from all the distractions in our house.
J: I agree, separate work space as much as possible from the rest of your living area. My work area is only connected to a hallway, with no other attached rooms. I do not venture out to
the rest of my home until my work is finished. I tried working from the kitchen table, but I found that there were too many distractions in the kitchen.
H: What are your biggest distractions in your work space?
K: With COVID-19, my husband now works from home and our three kids are here too. Sometimes I have to move around to the location that best fits the situation.
H: I am not married with kids, but I have a protective dog in an apartment building. She barks at the neighbors entering and leaving the building and that can be very distracting. To break the silence I like to crank up some music or my favorite podcast. Can you work with background noise?
J: I talk on the phone most of the day, so I can’t listen to music. I prefer the silence over the sound of other people talking or the TV at full blast in another room. If I didn’t spend most of my day on the phone, headphones would be a good solution to get rid of audio distractions.
H: In the office I didn’t have as many phone calls. I would have more co-worker visitors at my desk ready to discuss a project face to face. Now working from home, I find myself on more phone calls and video conferences. Any advice?
K: I always find it hard to hear when a conference room full of people are doing things near the phone (shuffling papers or tapping a pen) so since everyone is conference or video calling these days, try to be mindful of what other people can hear. The mute button is your friend!
H: Speaking of mute, have you ever been put on hold? Im talking like maybe five to ten minutes long, legit hold, where your main source of communication is now tied to a line with elevator music? What do you do?
J: I try to make use of otherwise wasted time. I put a yoga mat down on the floor for sit ups, and some pushup handles nearby. These get used when I am waiting on hold on the phone, waiting for printouts to come out, or when my computer is updating and unusable. Only a couple minutes a day and I have noticed I am in slightly better shape. Five situps or five pushups only takes about a minute or two.
H: Ahh, a new form of fitness. I can support that. By this point, isn’t it time for a break? How do you refresh your mindset when you’re locked into a trance? Is there time for coffee?
J: Yes, plenty of time for coffee.I focus more on my water intake. I keep a glass of water near my desk and refill water or take bathroom breaks about every half hour to forty-five minutes.
K: Ditto – stay hydrated folks!
H: I keep a water bottle on hand and challenge myself to drink more water throughout the day. Do you drink water from a bottle or a glass?
J: Actually, insulated cups keep condensation from getting all over the desk. I used to use a mason jar or regular glass, but the sides of glass would be wet after five minutes. After a half hour the glass had a pool of water under it. I tried about five different types of coasters, and none of them worked very well. Eventually, I found that insulated cups work best to avoid puddles.
H: Avoiding dropping a name brand of this so-called ‘insulated cup’- interesting. So after many cups of water later, your day has come to an end. How do you shut it down?
J: I try to start and stop working at the same time every day. If you stay late to finish up a project that could have waited until the next day, then you are mixing work time with home time. As a result there is no separation between work and home.
K: I couldn’t agree more. This was the hardest one for me to learn when I initially started working from home. A clear separation between work and home is key to still enjoying both.
J: I also try to physically leave my house after work. Sometimes just a short car ride, other times I stop and get a coffee, walk the dog, or pickup something at the grocery store. Being out and about is a good separator of work day from home life. Also talking to other people face to face is needed to maintain sanity and stay in normal person territory. These interactions are not something you will miss in a day or even a week, but I notice that if I don’t get out after work, I start getting a little weird.
K: It’s true! Remote workers can totally get weird from lack of human interaction ? I have to say, this is one silver lining of the current work environment – it’s nice to have everyone else working at home and wanting to video conference!
Thanks Kim and Julian for speaking up on working from home! I’ll be sure to think of you Kim the next time I start fidgeting with my pen on a conference call!
Stay hydrated and stay active.