10 Best Practices For Working At Home

Callahan staffers offer tips and advice being a worker-in-residence.

 
 

Callahan & Associates is a diverse mix of personalities working together as road warriors, office mates, and people who’ve worked from home for years.

As the coronavirus forced the closing of our headquarters in downtown DC, we rallied around one another in a lot of ways, including sharing tips for how we get stuff done with, for most of us, new office mates in the form of family and roommates.

We thought we’d share some with you.

One benefit of working at home: Office mates who ask for belly rubs, and it’s all good.

  1. Take advantage of technology. Social distancing doesn’t preclude you from being outside. Do conference calls while taking long walks —solo, of course—and with a notebook so you can write down what you need to remember.
     
  2. Set the scene. In your home office, create an atmosphere that can keep you focused and productive, with the lighting, background noise, views, workstation, etc., that make you feel your best.  Maybe add a little beauty to your workspace. It is spring, of course, so maybe fresh flowers?
      
  3. Build a routine. Stick to the same routine as you would if you were going into the office. If you’re typically at the office at 8:30, do the same at home. Take your lunch break at the same time as always, and end the day at the same as usual, too.
     
  4. Drown out distractions. If you have an office, shut the door and turn off all non-work phone notifications if you can. One of our account managers uses a hotel-style “Do Not Disturb” door-knob hanger to alert his wife and kids that he’s on the phone.
     
  5. Consider the calendar. Treat your calendar with the same respect as you would in normal times, logging activities and deadlines and sticking to them as always.
     
  6. Limit distractions. If the television beckons, turn it off or refrain from turning it on at all in the morning. Other people might need to play music that functions as white noise in the background. Do whatever works for you to stay focused.
     
  7. Stay informed but don't be distracted. Even with these fast-moving developments, hearing the same news over and over all day is not conducive to productivity. Consider tuning in every couple of hours.
     
  8. Be your own fan. As an employee-owned company, Callahan has a deeply ingrained culture of celebrating enterprise accomplishments and each other’s. We’ve kept that going but others might not be. If you miss it, find a way to congratulate yourself for those little things that make a difference.
     
  9. Look for the silver linings. Take working at home seriously, of course, but realize it’s not the same as an in-office experience. There are some downsides, but there also are some upsides. Come at this arrangement with the wrong attitude, and you might miss out on the positive aspects of remote work.
     
  10. Enjoy it while you can. Appreciate the opportunity to be at home with the people and creatures who mean the most to you. For most office workers, this is only temporary.

Bonus idea: If you have the technology and culture, schedule time together with the staff that’s not together like they’re used to. For Callahan, that means regular virtual “coffee breaks” where the webcams are on, mute buttons are off, and the conversation flows. That collegiality is important and sustaining.

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