In this new reality, which I (not so fondly) refer to as “quarantine-ville,” most workers have been mandated to work from home. For the lawyers of Outside GC and Patent GC, working from home is a core element of our business model; but for most, this arrangement is brand new territory. Since we’ve been doing this with great success for the past 18 years, we’d like to share some tips to help improve your productivity, and perhaps more importantly, help keep you sane.
At first glance, the advantages of teleworking seem too good to be true. Working from home enables you to work in more casual attire, have more control over your schedule and breaks, and eliminates chatty coworkers. Surely, every commuting worker has dreamt about these perks at some point. However, now that you’re in the midst of it, you’ve probably realized that this can be challenging, especially if you have children who are now “learning from home,” due to the many unwanted DISTRACTIONS. Sally needs a sandwich, your three loads of unwashed and/or unfolded laundry beckon you, Netflix has called at least seven times, you feel isolated and you have absolutely no form of normal structure to your work day.
Consider these 5 suggestions for making the most of your teleworking arrangement:
- Set yourself up in the right place. It’s all about where you designate your work space. You should be comfortable, but not too comfortable. Make sure there is good sunlight and that your space is private. Keep your “office” separate from your living space, lest you fall asleep reviewing some documents on your chaise lounge. Keep your area neat, clean and organized. Having a comfy chair with great support will work wonders.
- Keep your clothes on. Make sure to get dressed every day, at least from the waist up for those video calls we will talk about later. Seriously, take a shower, put some decent clothes on that do not resemble yoga pants, have a good breakfast and try to maintain a regular routine. If you have children who are engaged in “distance learning,” it really helps everyone to stay accountable and feel a slight sense of normalcy. This is at least one of the things we CAN control right now.
- Work-Life Balance. It’s super important to make and keep boundaries between your work and personal life. Set specific work hours for yourself and stick to them. Don’t let work interfere with your family time, but do make sure that everyone in your home respects your unavailability during those working windows. They should understand that they should not disturb you during those hours, except for emergencies. Try to stay focused and don’t let yourself get lured into scrolling FaceBook or other social media sites, or playing music or TV in the background.
- Don’t be a stranger. Whichever method of communication you utilize, be sure to stay in touch -- with colleagues, bosses, family and/or friends. Videoconferencing tools like Zoom or even group FaceTime can be such a valuable resource (note to self: probably a good idea to buy stock in these types of companies right now). Hold meetings in real time, which helps to boost that community/watercooler feeling for remote workers. It’s also nice to see friendly (and even not so friendly) faces during times of extreme isolation like the kind we are all experiencing right now. Try boosting your social experience by scheduling your lunch break with a friend or colleague via videoconferencing. Being interactive helps you to feel connected, included and “in the loop.”
- Be flexible. These are unique and challenging times. There are going to be distractions that you cannot ignore. If children are one of yours, and you have someone else working out of the home, try switching off on child care responsibilities for a few hours at a time so you can get some uninterrupted work time in. Most employers will be patient, given the circumstances, and hopefully your clients will be too.
Working from home is not always as glamorous as most people imagine, a fact you may have realized by now. However, with COVID-19 calling the shots in the near term, we can all make the most of our “socially distant” work arrangements by keeping lines of communication open, taking a deep breath occasionally, staying positive (and hopefully healthy) and making the best of the new “normal.”
Kristin Kreuder is a Member of our NY-area team with over 20 years of legal and business experience in both public and private corporations and in major NYC law firms. Kristin handles a wide range of legal matters, including mergers and acquisitions; commercial transactions; technology, media, licensing and sponsorship; capital markets, venture capital and private equity transactions; and a variety of general corporate and governance matters.