Work/Life Effectiveness

How to Be Productive While Working from Home: Tips from the Forté Team

As offices and businesses around the world have closed to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, more people have started working from home. If you’re used to the structure of an office environment, working from home can be tough to manage, especially in these stressful and challenging times. Forté has worked from a virtual office since we launched in 2004. Since our whole team works remotely, we asked them to share some advice with anyone who’s new to remote work.

Plan Your Day, Including Breaks

Set a realistic schedule.  “Plan your day to fit the goals/projects. Got a big task that requires concentration?  Plan to start it right after that first cup of coffee.  Give yourself a time limit, (I like 2 hours max), and then a short break.  Set yourself some personal goal for the 10 or 15 minute break – read to your toddler, move the laundry along, sit in the sun with a nice cup of tea.  Then head back in for the next thing on the schedule.  With good planning, you can accomplish so much, both work and personal.” – Lisa, Finance

Set reminders. “As a general piece of advice on working remotely, I’d say Slackbot is your new best friend. I set reminders for myself to stretch, eat, and even breathe! It’s easy to get caught up in your work when it’s just steps away from where you live. Slackbot has been a very helpful tool for me to stay healthy and sane.” – Megan, Marketing

Take breaks. “I set daily timers on my phone so that I remember to take breaks and eat lunch! It’s easy to get caught up in the work hustle, especially in the rapidly changing environment we’re facing right now.” – Kristin, Marketing

Give yourself some mental space. “Always take your lunch break. It can be easier to eat at your desk, but take 30 minutes to get away for mental relief. Even if you don’t use the full time eating, relaxing with a book or quick video gives you a boost for the afternoon.” – Bianca, Marketing

Dress Comfortably

Don’t overthink your outfit. “There is a myth going around that if you dress in a very corporate way, you will somehow be more productive. The reality is that each of us has different responsibilities and that those responsibilities can often be achieved with a variety of dress codes. If you are not client-facing, there is no linkage between dress code and performance. On the contrary, the time saved from not dressing to impress your pets or family members (the only ones who will actually see you) is time that can be spent completing an important strategic project or spending more time with your family.”- Scott, Programs 

Separate Your Workday from the Rest of Your Day 

Stick to your priorities. “It’s important to create a schedule with your day’s priorities and stick to it. Start every day with clarity on your objectives. What do you hope to accomplish today? What’s a must do, might do, could do? Stick to a plan. At mid-day, and at day’s end, check to ensure you managed the priorities and didn’t let the small less significant work creep in and derail your progress.” – Ana, Development

Create a separate work space. “My office is a separate room at home, so I make it a priority to close the computer, mute my work phone and close the office door behind me. If I need to work a little extra, I give myself an hour after the family goes to bed or early in the morning before they wake. If it’s not all done, it can wait until I’m back in the office and that is OK.” – Nicole, Programs

Turn off the computer. “If I keep my laptop open after the end of the workday, I can easily continue to work throughout the evening, rationalizing that it’s just one quick email. However, one quick email turns into ten emails and then I’ve robbed valuable time that I could have spent with my husband and daughter.” – Melissa, Admin

Create a Childcare Schedule 

Make time for play. “My husband and I take turns getting our daughter what she needs, making time for play and fun walks outside. She’s too young for a set schedule outside of naps, so we do what we can, and that’s how we get through the day. Times like these make me extra grateful that I work for an organization that understands and doesn’t judge when my toddler joins a conference call because she needs an extra hug.”  – Nicole, Programs

Make time for learning. “When we learned that we’d be homeschooling the kids on top of our work, we put together a schedule with thirty to forty-five minute increments to keep the kids busy.  We are homeschooling two kids, so we’ve arranged the schedule so that one is silent reading when the other is doing work that needs parent help. We are fortunate to be a two-parent household, so we’ve scheduled ourselves as well.  I run point for the kids in the morning, my husband runs point in the afternoon.” – Krystal, Development

Stay Connected

Be honest. “All being said, the current situation is not the regular remote work gig. You can’t duck into a Starbucks to work among others, your kids might be underfoot, etc. Don’t put added pressure on yourself, just be transparent with colleagues and clients of what your home office environment is, and my guess is that people will be understanding.” – Ana, Programs

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