Working from Home

Tips and Tricks from the Pros at eLumen

May, 2020

Team eLumen

Working from home is the new reality for a large segment of the workforce.

While the idea of not having a commute, setting your schedule, and getting to wear pajamas for a vast majority of your day might sound like paradise, we all know it can very quickly turn into a toddler appearing in your makeshift “office” (see: your bedroom) just as you’re about to give a big presentation.

As a largely remote company, eLumen understands the challenges of navigating children, a spouse who’s also likely working at home, and your job. However, with a few best practices and a few tips from the pros at eLumen, you’ll have the tools to develop an efficient and healthy work from home life.

Create your Workspace

Having your own space—even if it’s only “yours” for a portion of the day—is key to your work from home success.
The first step is identifying a workspace. It might be a closet or a corner once committed to crafting—even your dining room table. Identifying and claiming a space will bring a small amount predictability to your day.

Once you’ve identified your space, work to keep it clean and organized to avoid last second clean-ups before meetings with colleagues. If you’re worried about professionalism during meetings, consider using Zoom backgrounds. Also, don’t worry about the rest of the house during work hours—it will be there (oh, will it be there!) when you get finished with your day.

At the end of the day, if possible, put your work station away—especially if you’re working from a shared space, such as the dining room table.

Create Your Workday

When navigating your daily schedule, remind yourself that just because nobody sees you working, doesn’t mean you are not productive. If anything, in work from home situations, people tend to work more hours, as they feel the need to overcompensate.

Here are a few tips for creating a healthy and productive workday:

  • Block off time for individual project work, prioritizing urgent tasks
  • Take a lunch break
  • Set reminders for meetings, but also to get up and move, get water, or to make your children a snack
  • Add blocks in your calendar for personal time—even if it comes in the middle of the day
  • Make sure your family is also on a routine; getting everybody ready at the same time each morning can help
  • Remember: blank space on your calendar is okay

eLumen’s CEO, Joel Hernandez, says, “It’s okay to have to say no to something. This is a unique time. Find a queue for both you and your household to know when “work is done.” Is that a closed laptop? A closed office door? Don’t forget about your family!”
Finding and keeping a daily rhythm is critical to not only your success but also your health.

Keep Your Head in the Game

With no office and no actual in-person meetings to attend, it might be tempting to never change out of that comfortable pair of running shorts.
While that decision is ultimately dependent on your institution and your role (and whether you’ll be filming yourself only from the waist up!), maintaining specific professional standards—both in what you wear and how you treat your workday—can help you enter into a “workplace mindset.”

Some simple steps include:

  • Showering, getting dressed, and fixing your hair—even if you don’t have a meeting. The simple act of getting ready will reinforce the fact that you’re working.
  • Starting your day consistently at the same time. Granted, the flexibility of working from home changes every day. However, if you usually start at 9 a.m., look for ways to maintain that rhythm.
  • Building transitions in and out of your workday, including listening to music or podcasts to start and end your day. Consider taking a walk around the block and calling it your commute time!
  • Making yourself visible. Engage on Slack with a colleague. Ask questions. Seek out “water cooler” conversations.

Invest in Quality Equipment

If you’re new to working from home, quality equipment is essential.

If you have a desk, consider arranging it similar to your in-office setup. A good chair is a worthwhile investment. (It’s also worth checking to see if your institution will allow you to bring your office chair home.) Remember: while lounging on the couch sounds fun, it can be hard on your body. Proper alignment while working is just as important at home as it is in an office.

Next, invest in a good headset (with microphone and speaker). If you’ve never worked from home, you likely don’t have one. However, a quality headset will go a long way during video meetings.

If your spouse and children are also working from home, you might discover that your internet isn’t as fast or reliable as you thought. Calling into meetings or turning off your camera can help with bandwidth. However, having a backup source—most smartphones are hot spots—is always important for emergencies.

Figure out What Works for You

For most of us, working from home is filled with new challenges and opportunities. This can be simultaneously exciting and overwhelming. Figuring out what you need to work effectively will take some time.

If that means commandeering the front porch as your workspace, great. If it means wearing yoga pants with your blouse for your one-on-one, go for it.
Remember: you are driving this process. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for working from home—just constant experimentation to figure out what works.

And if your toddler does come running into your office during your big presentation? Take a breath. Laugh. And remind yourself it will be okay

You’ll remember to lock the door next time.