Here are our top 10 tips for working from home
In recent weeks, social distancing has seen millions of employees set up office in their very own homes. Below, we share the top ten tips for home working from two very different perspectives: a HR expert in Sweden, and a digital business mentor in the US.
5 WFH tips from a HR expert
Working from home may seem like a dream for many people. That is until you had to do it yourself. All of a sudden you realize just how much you need to vacuum, how lonely it can get (especially for us extroverts), and why it’s important to set ground rules with the people (and pets!) you share your space with.
Coming from both the HR and consultancy worlds, I have seen first-hand the benefits and challenges of working from home. In fact, I would have done it a lot more myself but for the fact that I almost immediately feel the strain of not having people around me.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel very blessed that I at least have the option. There are many out there today who do not, such as those battling the pandemic on the front lines and those who are making sure that we can still live our lives with some degree of normality. That includes the many employees at Ericsson who are keeping our supply chains running like clockwork and rolling out new networks just as before.
And as for us office workers, it’s important that we stay healthy and productive in our new working environments, so that we can also keep the world turning. But how?
To help you, here are my top 5 tips for working from home:
1. Stick to a routine
Many home workers will tell you about the importance of just getting dressed. Apparently just because we can lounge around in our pajamas, it doesn’t mean we should. A good idea could be to take a shower, get dressed and maybe even take a short walk before you set up in front of your computer for the day.
2. Designate a specific working space
When I first started out as a consultant, I made the mistake to work from my bedroom. Very soon the bedroom became connected with nothing but work. It’s an understatement to say that it pretty much ruined my sleeping patterns. So, a top tip I have learned is to designate a space for work only. If you can, invest in a comfortable chair and of course watch out for ‘tech neck’. Meaning if you can’t use an external screen, at least try to put your laptop on a pile of books to give your neck some rest. Maybe even stand up while on conference calls.
If you are not the only person working from home, see if you can agree to set some ground rules with people around you. I have given up the negotiations with my cats, but the baby and I are starting to get into a nice sync now that we have agreed on our own personal space.
3. Set your intentions and take breaks
It’s always a good time to brush up on your time management skills, especially when working from home. Begin every day by identifying what you need to do that day and how you intend to do it. The mistake I often make is forgetting to pace myself. Working from home gives me a lot more flow and allows me to think that little bit deeper. However, I forget that these sessions also take a lot more out of me. So, my tip is to block time in your calendar for breaks, if not solely to ensure that you plan your time more realistically, but also to ensure you get time to recharge.
4. Ramp up the communication
A lot people reading this won’t be an extrovert like me. But even for introverts in times like these, connecting with colleagues is probably more important than you think. We normally spend most of our time in close proximity to our colleagues, which makes it easier to stay in sync more effortlessly. Now with the proximity gone, we need to be mindful to keep those communication lines open. Luckily today there are tons of tools available to help us with video calls, digital chats and even digital whiteboards or collaboration programs. We even have the tools to set up virtual break areas, for those who want to grab a coffee and socialize in between work. And don’t forget, with so much of the communication happening digitally, empathy is more important than ever. I try to remind myself daily to always assume positive intent, even though I might want to read something else into that latest chat message…
5. Practice self-care
In times of self-isolation it’s easy to question the meaning of being productive and happy. For instance, the important of self-care. Maybe you need to carve out time each day for exercise. Maybe you need time for meditation. Or maybe it’s just enough for you to make sure that you take the breaks you planned for. Whether you’re at the office or at home, you should prioritize your own health and safety. For some, this may be quite obvious. But, this can actually be a challenge for many people. For example, research from the World Economic Forum shows evidence of health and wellbeing taking a hit while working from home. Especially when it leads to the blurring of work and non-work boundaries. So even if this WFH setup may not be a long-term route for us all its important for us all to be better at taking care of ourselves as well as others through the means we have today.
How we work from home
Everyone works from home differently, and Team Ericsson is no different. You can see some stories of how we work from home here.
5 WFH tips from a digital mentor
As a business developer and digital mentor, I have spent much of my career talking about the importance and benefits of digital transformation.
I have always believed that business would eventually move almost exclusively to the digital world, however I didn’t quite expect it to happen so soon or on a global scale such as this.
That’s because this week we saw the most extensive global influx ever of new people starting to work from home. This transition happened without plans, and in most cases without dedicated home offices. For some people it even meant working from home while doubling as a teacher.
As a result, a lot of enterprises are worried about how a move to home working will affect business. Below, I share five routines which can help to minimize productivity loss in this new reality.
1. Find out where to work
Supporting work from home was an easy employer decision for the staff able to be productive with a laptop and a smartphone. But your home might be less prepared when it comes to having a functional home office. Find the best table and chair combination that gives you the best working position. Plan to set-up and tear down your work environment daily. You need a suitable location to go to, without making your family go crazy with permanent offices in multiple locations across your home.
2. Plan your day differently
Our workdays in the office vary with your profession. For all of us, the most significant change is the temporary elimination of face-to-face meetings. Spend some time to define what is critical and possible to do in this new situation. Meetings that remain vital will be virtual, as the only remaining way to collaborate. Expect to have more time for task-oriented work that you lead and define on your own. A pleasant surprise is a time added to your schedule from daily commutes.
Also, the lunch break, with someone cooking for you, is often a vital mid-day break. A good way to add routine is to plan a lunch menu for the week. Cooking from scratch at lunch every day is time-consuming. Home delivery from local restaurants can still be an option to contribute to local business life. Combine eight hours a day at your temporary office with inspiration breaks. A little read or a walk around the block can be that energizer you need.
3. Secure access to broadband and tools
The real value of double displays, an extra mouse, and robust internet access might not be evident at work, but that you will soon find out. Your home working foundation will be your smartphone and laptop, complemented with good fixed and mobile broadband connections which are stress-tested. Multiple home workers and education/gaming for your children at the same time. If you are relying on audio-only for your daily conference calls, consider embracing video options. Video conferencing will bring back a bit of the lost personal interactions from face-to-face meetings. Digital collaboration tools are the second large area to secure your days run smoothly. Cloud-based tools put through the test of sharing and cocreations when whiteboards are gone.
4. Stay focused, with a family around you.
You might not be home alone. Two adults working from home is a new scenario in most families and homeschooling your children add to the complexity. A big challenge we all face is how to stay focused in this new environment. Aspire to find focus by taking shifts for homeschooling tasks. Support each other to manage simultaneous virtual meetings. The key to your productivity is to get uninterrupted time for your task-driven work. If you can achieve it now, it will be a critical asset for your productivity in the future.
5. Experiment and develop your digital skills
The next weeks will expose your shortcomings when it comes to digital skills. With an excellent opportunity to turn gaps into future advantages. Take the opportunity to experiment with new digital tools and skills. Create short videos or podcasts for your customers. Now is an excellent opportunity to push for progress before perfection in new areas.
Read the article in full on my personal website here.
Visit Ericsson’s coronavirus FAQ page.
Check out the Ericsson careers page to learn more about what it’s like to work here.
Find out the nine ways team leaders can adjust to self-isolation in our colleague’s recent blog post.
How will our relationship with the digital world evolve in the future? Visit our consumer lab to find out.
What are your best WFH tips? Tag @Inside_Ericsson on Instagram and share your own working from home tips, tricks and photos!