For many of us, social distancing has meant becoming experts on managing our jobs effectively in a work-from-home environment. Fortunately, we already have quite a few Coldwell Banker colleagues who are 100% home-based, and many more than that who are partial home-based employees. We know home!
Below are our top tips on how these individuals have found success working from home, from approaching their days to balancing their business vs. personal lives.
- Schedules are Important Avoiding the temptation to stay up past your normal bedtime and sleep in past your normal wake-up can be a challenge. Stick to a schedule. Christine Barragan, our national award and recognition analyst based in Studio City, CA goes to bed at the same time every evening and wakes up to start her day at the same time every morning. “Routine becomes important,” she said. “I also keep the same personal habits each morning. I make my bed, shower, brush my teeth, and dress for my day, every day.” Kerry Prior, a project manager in our development group who has worked from home for more than 10 years and has a way with words, puts it more bluntly: “Get up and pull yourself together, people! Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you should sit around in your PJs and slippers. Wear real clothes, even athleisure if that is your thing, and above all, use your camera on Teams meetings.” I warned you, Kerry words are rarely ambiguous, but her point was echoed by everyone I interviewed. All agree: Get up, make your bed, start your day, and walk into your “home office”.
- Have a Real Work Day: “I come in to my home office at 8:30am and I shut the door until lunch time when I stop for a snack and break before continuing my day until 6pm, sometimes 6:30,” Kerry explained, adding that when she is done for the day, she closes her laptop, tunes off the lights, and closes the door – leaving her home office mentally just like she would be leaving an office building physically. Remember, just because you work from home doesn’t mean you should sit at your desk and at your computer late into the night hours, just because you can. You should also plan your breaks – get a snack and stretch your legs. This is very important point for those of you who are non-exempt employees: the same hourly regulations from a FLSA perspective apply to you now as they did when you were working from your office desk or from multiple offices during your workday. Also, this applies for exempt employees. Most of us have email on our phones, so know when to shut down the computer and reunite with your families. They need you right now, too.
- Designate a Work Area: I am fortunate that I have a fully equipped home office with a desk, good lighting, monitors, and most importantly, a door. That is not necessarily the case for everyone who is being asked to work from home right now. Even if you don’t have a home office, try to segment part of your residence that is as private as possible – asingle space where you can plug in your devices and earphones and is relatively free of other distractions like television or other people in the home.
- At Home with the Kids? What if you are sharing space with your children or spouse who also needs to work from home? Many schools and companies are operating from a remote posture. Christine suggests setting expectations up front. “I tell them ‘Mom has a conference call at 10am and I will not be available to you during that time’, or ‘I’m working on a project now and can talk to you at 3pm’ or ‘Dad has a conference call at 12pm. During that time, I will fix and have lunch with you.’” Leah Wright, one of our Communications Managers who has worked from home in Harrisburg PA for 3 years, adds “If you have small children at a dependent age, keep them on a strict schedule and plan for their needs in advance of your calls or appointments.” Likely, children at home have school assigned work to do, so try following the same rules they do at school – quiet time, raise their hands, say excuse me, and thank you.
- Managing Work and Home Simultaneously: Work and home will collide on occasion. Leah suggests that when you schedule your breaks, it is an ideal time to pop-in a load of laundry or check on a child’s homework assignment. Christine agrees: “I focus on work during work hours, but sometimes emergencies happen. “I have used my headset on a conference call to multi-task where I didn’t need to be on a computer for the call.” Leah warned about a different type of multi-tasking that I personally am guilty of: “Don’t take your email to bed. Leave your iPhone in another room and try to get a good night of sleep.”
- Stay Socially Connected While You are Socially Separated: Marketing ilk are naturally social. We like to engage, speak, explain, and present – and usually the more people around us. the better. Working from home can cause a feeling of isolation for those who aren’t used to it. Todd Cook, a data management director based in Southern California within our Product Studio, notes that isolation is sneaky and can become troubling for some people. “You can end up depressed without realizing you are, or why.” To prevent that, Todd suggests sticking to a schedule and planning social interaction time into that schedule. Leah agreed. “Utilize video conferencing for planning and use the camera. Even for one-on-one meetings, schedule them on Microsoft Teams instead of a phone call so that you are interacting face to face with someone.” Leah also offered a great idea: Remote lunch appointments or coffee dates on teams can help keep us interacting on a more personal basis.
These helpful tips were compiled by Chris Clark, National Vice President of The Strategy Studio.