Working from Home – how to stay focused

Working from Home is not a holiday. It is a chance to succeed without travelling to the office and with the current policy of social isolation, it has become a normality.

How is it possible to stay focused with the horror of the news and the collapsing economy? By maintaining tight contact with your colleagues using online video and communication software such as Slack. By working with established goals and mini-goals – a task management system can be a todo list or it can be full-blown project management. But the sense of micro-achievement is really important. Project managers are increasingly important to the process of keeping people focused on a specific achievement.

There is no place for conflict. Resolution must be swift or completely unnecesary. If someone feels a bit weird, if a friend needs a chat, give them a video call. Do not try and resolve their problems, try and listen.

Take breaks. It is important to maintain the self with proper meals and take time to talk with your family. Your office should have a door you can close, but you should also walk around and be with others to stay in balance. Avoid bad news.

Play games. I do not mean Playstation, I mean race with yourself to achieve targets. Find reasons to feel little achievements. Do not stress. Relax and be effective.

And if you are self employed, make sure that you keep your timesheets, billing and accounting up to date! At the end of the day, that is how you get paid.

And never be afraid to have a bit of a laugh with your boss, as well as your peers. Bosses are human, too. Let’s remember, we are all in this world together and only by cooperation and coordination can we beat this infection disease.

We are smarter than the virus. Let’s stay smart by being calm and in control of our day. And then share time with your family during the evening. Most of all, be safe, be optimistic and encourage others to do that too. By example is more effective than by lecture.

Hope this helps someone. Have a good day!

Working from Home

I have been working from home for the last two years. With the Covid-19 crisis resulting in Governments asking people to work from home, I thought it would be useful to document things that may help those who are not used to working away from others, in the safety of their own home.

Firstly, you have to manage yourself. You need a quiet space so you can conduct online meetings and using one of the many meeting tools available (Microsoft Teams, Slack, webex, Skype, plus many more) have daily meetings with your colleagues. Meetings should start with 5 minutes of chat, humour and human contact. And if you are Agile, a standup is very useful to quickly share progress on tasks, and plans for the day.

Use a time management system. I recommend Harvest, as it provides timers, so you can see what you have done at the end of the day. A project management system like Jira or Trello is very useful to control progress and coordination. Use Harvest (or another timing system) so you can see how much time you are spending on each task.

Take time for yourself. Make absolutely sure you take your lunch break, and time between tasks to take a brisk walk, have a coffee or chat with people. Do not allow the distraction of being alone to embed, reach out, talk with your flatmates or partner, or phone your mum. Spend a little time each day, especially if you are living alone, to connect with people online. Use Social Networks but do not engage in online rage or indulge your imagination with conspiracy links. This is a disease, pure and simple. It is an accident of nature that our bodies have evolved self-learning defenses for, but some people will become very sick and a percentage of the most vulnerable will die. It is like a war, a quiet war.

And if you get sick, you are entitled to take time away from work, do not add to your stress by trying to work and manage symptoms if you are having difficulty.

And finally, value your work. Just because you are not in the office under the watchful eyes of your project management team or HR, it does not mean that your contribution is not valued. You are a useful person and part of a team with a goal.

Be responsible for your own success.