Marlene Paez Dukes
The past few weeks have had most of us Working At Home for the first time. How is that going for you? If you’ve had some trouble adjusting, here are some general starter tips to help ease into the Way We Work Now:
1. Stake Your Claim
Roll out bed and set up on the couch with your laptop, a box of donuts, and the TV remote? Nope, designate a dedicated Work area. Ideally, a separate room with a door. A desk set-up in a corner, an armchair off to the side with a good light source; any space that will signal to you and your cohabitors you are “at work.”
2. Set Your Boundaries
Found your spot? Great, start with your “regular” company office hours. First, no commute! Use that time to get ready for your day, then step into your office. You are now at work.
Designate a 4-hour time period as office-hours for reading and responding to emails, Slack, Zoom meetings, phone calls (uh, what are those?). It should be the time when you interact most with others professionally. Managers should designate a period that is convenient for all on the team, especially if there are members in different time zones.
The other 4 hours are uninterrupted production hours: write that proposal, design the layout, edit the photo shoot, schedule the next event. Modify this time to best suit your energy level. For example, I work best in the mornings, so 10:00 am–2:00 pm are my production hours and 2:00 pm–6:00 pm are office hours. That is not to say I don’t produce work during office hours—I just know my mind tends to wander in the afternoon.
This is the most important tip to keep everyone on your team on the same page. Set up a to-do workflow. I prefer a combination of Trello, Slack, Dropbox, and Zoom, but there are many other options. Whatever combination of tools you use, key points are What/How, Who, and When.
- What is the goal (and how is it reached)?
- Who is responsible?
- When does this need to get done?
Write it all down and then use it! Modify as needed. Perhaps you will discover some things are unnecessary or too complicated. Talk with your team. You might feel like you’re over communicating with your detailed messages, especially if this is not your normal way of interacting with your clients and colleagues, but when it comes to e-chat, more is better than less. Use the due dates! That will help with the scheduling boundaries you’ve set above.
Essentially, as everyone is practicing social distancing, we can’t rely on the visual and physical cues that get us through our workday. Designating a map accessible to all, with clear priorities and best practices will do wonders to keep everyone productive and sane.
Christine DePedro is a Creative Project Manager and Consultant with more than 30 years experience producing print and digital content. She was the first Art Director of The Cambodia Daily newspaper and produced the first digital iPad edition of Condé Nast BRIDES magazine. Christine is currently the Volunteer Coordinator for CreativeMornings/CHI and photographs street art from around the world @streetsmart_chi.
Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org for individual or corporate consulting on remote workflows and best practices.