The Dining Room Table is The New Cubicle

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The Dining Room Table is The New Cubicle

Work-From-Home (WFH) – Hybrid Work Spaces – Home Office – whatever you are going to call it now – you probably have noticed: It is a change that is here to stay. Many people - and companies - are forced to consider different workplace options. While there are quite a few people excited to go back into an office (that they don’t live in), many are liking the new concept of working from home. Based on my clients who work for major companies world-wide, it seems to be split about 50/50 regarding going into an office or working from home.

A few weeks ago, when people started to go back into an office, clients asked me to help them make WFH, or their chosen hybrid model, a productive and effective experience for them long term. It takes adjusting and discipline to separate work from personal time. You still need to get things done in a timely manner, so treating work time as very valuable time in order to speak with clients plus get projects done is mandatory. This is actually much more doable now for some. Just think of it --- if you had been spending 1 to 2 hours daily away from family due to transporting yourself to an office – you just gained up to 10 useful hours a week! 

If you have decided to keep the WFH status as a long-term choice and your company is all in – that is wonderful! Let’s consider what you will need to do to make this new dynamic really work in your favor. These are the kinds of concerns my clients are sharing – and some solutions that might help you:

How will you be as productive working from home as you are in the office or juggling both?

Make the most productive choices of how you will use the time so that you are doing the most important tasks in each of your work places. If something could more easily be done in your home workspace, then don’t waste the valuable remote office time on them. Plan in advance what you WILL do in each space over the course of the week so you tackle the right projects and tasks at the best time – and in the right place. Write the tasks down in the scheduling system of your choice and stick to your intentions. Planning well in advance is truly the key to being productive. 

What days and times will you be going into an office if you are adopting a hybrid-schedule?

If you plan to go into an office part of the week – make your schedule consistent and predictable. This way colleagues and clients will know when to expect you. Many are going in Monday/Wednesday/Friday while others are going in Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday. Create regular days and times that allow you to make the best use of the time you are at the office. Consistency is incredibly useful as we all crave structure in our lives to reduce our stress levels. Start at the same time daily – regardless of where you are working that day. A routine will pay off dividends!

How will you keep in touch properly with your clients or team members virtually?

Be consistent with check-ins and following up --- Stay Connected! Be proactive about reaching out to people by scheduling time to talk with clients, teams, and workmates. Plan regular social times. If you are all in the same city then plan social times as appropriate just like you did when working in person. Many people are reporting that they truly missed the in-person contact –so be sure to include anyone on your team who is working from home in social gatherings: And have gatherings!

How will you make it clear to those you live with that your work time has to be respected?

This has been one of the biggest issues especially for those with young children. If you previously worked outside the home, then you and your family got accustomed to that. You have to behave similarly. The benefit of being at home however, is now you can have lunch with your family and if someone needs to go to the doctor, etc. it is an easier task. Have a family meeting and set the boundaries in advance. A client I was helping has constantly been tugged by his family to join them in the pool on a sunny afternoon. He didn’t like to say ‘no’ so I asked him what he did when he was at a remote office. He stated he didn’t get bothered and so he didn’t join his family in the middle of the day. We arranged his schedule and he informed his family that when he is ‘at work’ in the home office, that he is as good as ‘not there.’ He set boundaries and that helped a lot. By the same token - Create an environment that is not inviting to family members by making sure that toys and other family items are NOT in your work space. In the morning - Announce you are going to work; Kiss the family good-bye, and head into your office --- and close the door.

How will you ‘decompress’ after your work day if your commute is a walk down the hall?

There is a benefit from some sort of transition time from work to home and vice-versa. To get into work mode; have morning and evening routines. Perhaps exercise before starting work, meditate, carve out thinking time at the start of your day.  Do things you had done before going to work at a different address. Get dressed as if you are going into an office on your WFH days so you are in the correct mindset. Clothes make a difference. Think about it:  You behave differently when all dressed up for an elegant dinner party than you do when in your sweats on a Saturday morning. Not to mention the image you project to work associates. To decompress after the workday: Plan the next day before shutting off your computer; take a walk; meditate; listen to music; or head to the gym. Also, change your outfit to signify to your brain (and others around you) that it is time to relax with family and friends --- you are no longer in ‘work mode.’ 

For many, working from home is now their norm and they have embraced the situation. Some have been remodeling their homes to make it easier to have a quiet place to work. Others have sold their home and moved to an area they desire to have the ‘work environment’ of their dreams, (i.e.: the home of their dreams) thus taking advantage of what working from home offers and even upgrading their lifestyle. Whichever option factors into your life now – there are benefits to each and every option. Anything can be made to work – just think outside the box a bit and you will find the plethora of reasons to be happy where you work.