So like half of the people in the US you've been working remotely due to COVID-19. After the dust settles and you get down to working you realize this work at home thing has its ups and downs. Here are some tips on keeping it up!
Working From Home? Here are Some Tips to Keep You Productive
As many of you know, I started working remotely for SilcoTek® last July when I moved to Houston, TX. Over the past several months I've learned to continue to be engaged with our coating team and keep up with the latest coating applications,coating resources and innovations.
In light of the spread of COVID-19 forcing many to work from home (WFH) for the first time, I thought I would share 5 tips that I've learned over the past 9 months and share a few other basic insights about working from home.
But first a Corona Virus (COVID-19) update from SilcoTek. Man I wish I had a roll a toilet paper for every COVID-19 update I've heard! Here's our latest update. Then we'll discuss my tips for working at home.
SilcoTek® COVID-19 Response Update
We have been closely monitoring ongoing developments regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and are actively taking steps to ensure the safety of SilcoTek employees, their families, and our local community. We continue to be vigilant in cleaning our facility, cancelling travel and conducting virtual meetings. We've restricted access to the facility and manufacturing operations in an effort to maintain a safe and healthy work environment.
SilcoTek Remains Open, Supporting COVID-19 Efforts
As you may know, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close their physical locations starting Thursday, March 19th in an increased effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Because of the importance of SilcoTek’s work relating to COVID-19 research and analytical testing, the Pennsylvania Governor’s office confirmed that SilcoTek is classified as a life sustaining business and are authorized to remain operational. According to the Governor’s office, “Life sustaining businesses may remain open, but they must follow, at a minimum, the social distancing practices and other mitigation measures defined by the Centers for Disease Control to protect workers and patrons.”
The game changing properties resulting from SilcoTek's coating are considered essential in the Corona battle and as such SilcoTek has been given approval to maintain operations. The social distancing measures put in place by SilcoTek exceed the criteria established by the Government. The measures we put in place were designed to put the safety of our employees first as we navigate through this pandemic. We will continue to employ best practices and make improvements as we work together to prevent the inadvertent spread of this virus.
SilcoTek is proud to be able to continue serving our customers during these challenging and unprecedented times. We are working as hard as ever to maintain the Plus One service you expect from us. We will continue to expedite and prioritize all coating orders for COVID-19 research and containment efforts. Read the entire SilcoTek COVID-19 update.
Despite this situation, we also understand the importance of meeting delivery commitments to our customers. At this time, you should not expect to see any negative repercussions on orders you currently have in-house at SilcoTek or orders you are planning to send in the coming weeks. We have proactively contacted our critical supply partners to confirm that there should be no changes in our ability to provide game-changing coating services. As usual, SilcoTek employees are prepared to be responsive to emails, web inquiries and phone calls and will continue to deliver Plus-1 service. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this serious disease.
Before we discuss my top 5 insights about working from home, we'll discuss a few basics and why they may not work for everyone.
Customer Strategies: The work location
Read about working from home and the first thing they'll say is set up a comfortable, private, and dedicated work space. But what if you live in a small apartment or you're home with the kids? Or what if you're working from home temporarily? With pets, a spouse, or kids in the house there may be no real "quiet dedicated space" that the kids or pets won't find and invade. Thank goodness with a good talk and a firm tone you can get them to listen and give you space during working hours. I'm of course talking about the pets. The kids are a whole other issue.
I'm not saying kids are not trainable but they do need more attention than Fido. What to do? When faced with active pets or kids when working from home flexibility is key. Flexibility in work location and schedule. If you can set up an office in an extra bedroom or basement go for it. But if you can't find a closet and try setting up a small work area that you can close off when you're not working. If you can only work from the kitchen table then set up a mobile office. Organize your work items into totes or other containers and pull from them as needed when you set up your work space for the day. Then organize and pack your office away when the work day ends.
Wherever you set up office the kids and pets will find you. If you lock yourself in a room you'll need to ignore the pleas from pet or kids to let them in. That seems harsh to me. As an alternative set up set play times and quiet times for kids. Consider bribing pets with food (only if you're at home for a short time). Set up a schedule and eventually the house will settle into a rhythm that will allow you to work during lull times. It helps if your company will allow you to be flexible on work times. That way you can work at times when the kids are out playing or napping. In the end you'll find a solution that works for you.
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Set a daily schedule, set a designated work day, exercise, breaks, etc. Know yourself and your productivity cycle. How long can you work at one sitting? How do you get your energy to start focusing on work? You'll need to do a little self reflection to find the best way to get focused. If it's by talking with your coworkers get on line and chat with them. If it's music, play it. If it's meditation go for it. If you're having trouble getting started, do those easy repetitive tasks that help to get your head into work mode. More an evening or later in the day person? If possible, adjust your day to be most productive. An early riser? Set that clock and start your day just like you're going to work. And stay away from YouTube! Don't give into the evil cat videos, you can do it!
Don't take work home with you, even if you're home. Set a time when your work day ends. And stick to it! You need to get away from work even if work is literally in the next room.
Reports, to-do lists, daily communication, talk to your spouse or significant other or co-workers about what you're going through and your work plans. Sharing plans and objectives help to keep you on track for success.
Enough of the basics, here are my top 5 quick insights about working from home.
1. Set a no-distractions timer and give yourself a break. 50 minutes of working, followed by a 10-minute break. Consider this your "water-cooler break."
2. Stay in touch with your co-workers via video conference. It's easy to isolate yourself, so be sure to catch up through the screen.
3. Make yourself lunch and take a real lunch break. Enjoy your meal and maybe go for a walk outside.
4. Get dressed! Even if you are changing from pajamas into sweatpants, it will still help you get in the right headspace for work.
5. Be patient with your coworkers! This is a lot of people's first WFH experience. We'll get through it together. Thanks for reading! Enjoy this photo of my dutiful assistant, Tussey, and winner of Employee of the Month every month.
And finally should I get a dog? Yes! But that has little to do with working from home. If you're stuck at home for the duration, a pooch will keep you company and, if you're concerned about being home alone, added safety. If you prefer a kitty, to each his own! Get a cat but be prepared to deal with the occasional playful paw reaching for the keyboard! The dog or cat will eventually learn to rest quietly while you're working, especially if they were just fed.
Patience and we'll all get through this!