Practical Tips for Working at Home
For many people, transitioning to working from home is a completely new experience. Although everyone’s experience is different based on their situation, skills, job duties, and previous remote working experience, there are some constants worth remembering:
- It will be new.
- It will sometimes be awkward.
- It will be a learning experience.
- Many things you try won’t work the first time.
- Things will sometimes break, not work, or work differently than expected.
- It will require patience, adaptability, and grace.
- Things will just be different.
Be kind to yourself, have patience and grace with your manger and teammates. It will get easier. The most important thing to remember is to just get started. We are all in it together and figuring it out as we go. If you are unsure or have concerns please raise your hand and ask questions.
Right now, the transition to working from home is what’s best for the students, the faculty, and the staff. It’s not a light or easy decision, but it is the one that keeps Baylor running and living its mission even (especially) in this time of uncertainty.
But where to begin?
1. Prepare for being out of office.
- If possible, test your equipment at home before you begin to work remote full time.
- Update your contact information and your emergency contact information in BearWeb and with your manager.
- Ensure that people with whom you routinely work know the best way to contact you.
- Learn how to set up call forwarding with your office phone and how to access voicemail remotely: Baylor Voicemail Instructions.
- Maintain your calendar and set up out-of-office messages as appropriate.
- Create a hard copy of contact information for key people so you can phone or text them even if there are technical issues (such as a temporary power or internet outage).
2. Establish a workspace.
It's best if you can designate a separate room for quiet and privacy while doing work. However, if that's not possible, try to set up an area that is used only for work and as removed from distractions as possible. Also, during video meetings, the other participants can see (and be distracted by) everything in view of the camera so take that into consideration of how you set up your workspace. Some people hang curtains or use a shoji screen to create a sense of separate space when creating a home workspace.
3. Make sure you have the equipment and software you need.
Work with your supervisor to determine which tools and resources are needed to complete your work remotely. As appropriate, take your work computer home and make sure you have the correct software on it to work remotely. For example, Office 365, Microsoft Teams, VPN (virtual private network), Box, etc. Know which systems you are expected to use to stay in touch with your manager and co-workers and become familiar with how to use them. Additional information is available at: https://www.baylor.edu/its/index.php?id=967615
4. Manage interruptions and distractions as best as you can.
Especially if you are now at home with family, it is important to anticipate interruptions, and explain guidelines and expectations for family members on when you are working and when you can be interrupted.
5. Set daily goals, track them and share your progress.
Maintain your normally worked schedule unless alternate schedules are approved by your supervisor. Sticking to a regular schedule mentally prepares you to go to work. Start each day by writing down what you need to achieve and then track your progress. Pay attention to how long tasks take you and start adjusting your daily goals to match your current rhythm. Report progress on work tasks to your supervisor and colleagues as requested or necessary.
6. Recognize productivity expectations may change.
Some things are easier to get done without the distractions of being in the office. Some things are more challenging because communication is more difficult or you don't have all the resources of the office in your home workspace. Your manager may follow up more often than when you are in the office or ask for more updates, and that’s a completely normal part of remote work.
7. Prepare for the social and communication dynamics to be very different.
Communication may suddenly feel more difficult because you aren't having face-to-face conversations. It's much easier to feel left out of important conversations. Some people experience loneliness and a sense of isolation. Knowing this from the start helps you plan ways to maintain connections with others, even virtually.
8. Dress for work.
Dressing casually is definitely a perk of working at home but getting “ready for work” is a daily ritual that helps keep you on task. Also, people can see you when you are on video calls. Dressing for work gets you mentally ready and allows you to take video calls on a moment's notice.
9. With your manager's help, set work hour expectations.
This works both ways by providing any necessary flexibility during the day and ensures you are able to separate from work in the evening.
10. Working remotely is a skill to be developed.
Watch Baylor's Dr. Sara Perry discuss working from home on the Being Human podcast. Also, LinkedIn Learning has a range of classes on Working from Home, such as: Time Management: Working from Home and Working Remotely: Become a Successful Remote Worker. All Baylor employees have access through ITS and you can get set up on LinkedIn Learning.
11. Remember, nothing will be perfect.
Switching to working from home may be a radical change for you, any members of your household, and your manager, coworkers, and constituents. Approach telework as an experiment and keep trying new things to find out what works best for you. We are all figuring this out together, so having patience, flexibility, and grace with yourself and others is important.
12. Ask for help when it's needed.
Our campus community is working together to create a successful environment for our students, faculty and staff during this unprecedented time. Refer to the Keep Working website for routine updates and information to help you make the most of your remote work experience, and feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org whenever we can assist. Also, this document from our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides additional ideas and points to consider when starting to work remotely.
13. Additional Resources
- Harvard Business Review has A Guide for Working (From Home) Parents with advice and suggestions for parents trying to work from home while also taking care of kids.
- LinkedIn Learning has put together a summary guide called New to Working Remotely? These Resources Can Help. The guide includes resources for maximizing productivity, adjusting to working at home and even leading remotely. All Baylor employees have access through ITS, and you can get set up on LinkedIn Learning.
- TIAA has a short guide called Working Remotely with additional tips and ideas for making the transition to working from home.