Boss says, “Work from home.” now what?  Let me help you go from overwhelmed to mindful and peaceful in your new office scenario.

So many have dreamed of this day. The day the boss would say “work from home”. Although none of us thought it would happen this way.  I’ve been a work from home CEO for more than 10 years now.  Here are a few tips people don’t tell you when you suddenly work from home.

Set up a dedicated workspace.  Keep it simple.  Here is the list.

Why is this important?  While I do believe we only have one life and there is no such thing as work life balance there is only work life integration.  We do have a different executive presence when we go to work.  To honor your work mindset the first thing you must do when boss says work from home is find a place to do that.  A place to ground this new energy, purpose and focus.

Things to keep in mind. This does not have to be a large space.  It does need to be as quiet as possible.  Don’t be afraid to convert a closet, pantry or garage to a part-time office.

Keep in mind the backdrop of the space. It is highly likely that you will be doing some sort of video calls in this new work experience.  While I do believe executives will be more forgiving avoid things like mirrors that will reflect your back, closets that are often left open so you can see the mess that lies behind.   When possible put your desk so that you have a wall or bookshelf behind you.

A sheet can work as a clean backdrop in a pinch. Think professional that matches your industry and clients.

Keep in mind lighting and sound. If you can face the window or light so you don’t become a dark shadow on those video calls.

  • Get dressed each day.  Why?  This sets your mindset and again in today’s world of video chat in a moment’s notice your boss or largest client can request a video chat.  Getting dressed also puts you in that professional mindset for the day. Keep it simple a nice top and jeans will work.
  • Gather a few basic office supplies so you can get to work quickly.  Visualize what is back at your desk in the office.  What do you have on your desk you don’t even realize you use every day?  Here’s my list stapler, tape, pens, ruler, electronic pencils, scissors, printer, calculator, iPad.  Gain permission from your boss to take these things home or make a quick run or delivery order from Office Depot.  Don’t have a home printer your local office supply store, library or friend may be able to help. New things you may need – microphone, headset and video camera. 
  • Set work hours.  Your boss said,” work from home” he did not say we’ve lowered our goals or expectations of you.  Get to your new office workspace table, or desk at the same time you would if you were going to the office.  Talk to those living in the house so they understand the new expectation. Work to your normal closing time.
  • Do NOT multi-task home projects.  Many of my mindful executives that work from home rave about the ability to throw in a load of laundry or do the dishes.  If you are new and potentially on a short-term work from home scenario.  Keep your life as stress-free as possible don’t try it.  You will lose productive time in the office you will never get back. 

Mindful working from home is about presence.  It’s about being fully present with the work you are paid to do.  It is staying in this moment.  Don’t sweat the future or freak out about the past. Feeling overwhelmed in the newness.  Breathe. Put your feet on the ground and breathe again.

Other random things to consider if you are new to working at home.

Create some sort of commute.  If you have had to commute to work for years and suddenly you do not.  You don’t realize how that time creates your day.  If you listen to the radio, zone out, talk to a friend or family member.  Find a new way to keep that sort of ritual.  Perhaps you’ve seen the Audible commercial where she takes the bus around the block to commute then comes to her home office.  You can watch it here.  The need for a re-set between home or transition time between work and home is real.  Find what works for you.

Breaks in today’s busy rewarding multi-tasking word you may not think about that walk to the restroom, lunchroom or quick “hi” with a co-worker.  For good and for interesting you don’t have that when you work from home.  Isolation is a weird side effect they don’t tell you about when you work from home.  As you build your new routine be sure to schedule short 5-10 min calls with co-workers, neighbors or friends to keep that “water cooler” conversation going.

Phone calls – your clients are generally used to calling your desk phone if you still have that be sure to forward your phone to your cell phone or make plans to check messages at your landline regularly.

Your chair – do your best to find the best chair you have at home.  You may find yourself sitting more if your neck or back hurt more in your new work from home position don’t ignore that.  Move more, even if it’s a walk up and down your hall, around the house or up and down the stairs.

Baby showers, birthday parties, and celebrations.  Woo hoo!  You work from home for the short term, or maybe longer.  Many of us attend these team celebrations in the office out of a sense of, we’ve always done it that way or obligation.  Now you can’t.  And it’s possible you may miss them.  Working home challenges, us to be more human.  Reach out more when you work from home.

Make friends with the delivery driver at your home.  It’s highly likely we will be getting more deliveries.  They can be a lifeline at times to an item you need.

While I could go on for days about the benefits and challenges of working from home.  Send me your questions for a future blog

One last thing – words matter.  I strongly request that if you are new to working from home support the movement and call it “working remote”.  It sets a tone of more professionalism.  I’m sure many of us that have a short time mandate to work remote are open to working remote more often.  Let’s use this challenge as an opportunity that may provide long lasting benefits.

Mindful people: Delivering Powerful Business Results