How to work from home better.
By now, most of us are working from home as COVID-19 requires some changes to day-to-day life. [what to know now]
We asked two experts — one who consults with companies and one who works with entrepreneurs — on how to work at home now.
THE EXPERT: Cole (CB2) Baker-Bagwell, business strategist and founder of Cool Audrey, based in Raleigh, has worked with clients on Wall Street and Silicon Valley. She helps clients bring mindfulness to the workplace.
Raleigh Convergence: For people who don’t usually work from home, how do you stay focused during a crisis like COVID-19?
CB2: Mindset and intention are where we begin. We have to accept that COVID19 has changed most everything about life and work. We can meet these changes with the right mindset.
Outside of having tools to make work possible (laptop/PC, smart phone, internet) working remotely requires discipline, intention and mindful planning.
To get started, stick to your routine as if you were going into an office. If you were a commuter, use that time to do something for yourself: take a walk, ride your bike, sit quitely and enjoy your morning. Mindfully create structure for your day.
Ask yourself: What needs my attention today? How much focused time will I need to complete those things?
Lastly, move all calls, conference calls and meetings to video. Video creates focus, understanding, efficiency and most importantly, connection.
RC: For people who work from home but now have kids at home too, how do you get through it? What are some strategies or mindsets to adopt during this time?
CB2: Things have changed for our kids too. This is super important to remember. From there, we need to work together to shift the way we think about and structure our work day.
1. Communicate with your family and colleagues to create a plan for tag teaming. Consider working in shifts such as 8 a.m.-1 p.m 10 a.m.-3 p.m. or 12-5 p.m. Working in blocks of time can be wildly productive as long as you stay focused. Turn off distractions such as instant messaging and texts to stay focused during that time.
2. Create a space where you can work. Create a space for your kids to work and keep your resting and fun spaces sacred. Create a schedule that allows you to work together and play together.
3. Embrace this new pace! Hiding our kids or keeping them quiet can create stress for everyone. these are weird times. Let your colleagues and clients know your kids are home. Invite your kids to join the first minute of your video meeting. If your colleagues have kids, invite them to do the same.
RC: How can managers lead well when they’re not used to having a team who works remotely?
CB2: Get human! Leaders have an amazing opportunity to unite and strengthen their teams, now more than ever but they have to work mindfully.
1. Video is magic! Connecting in the most human way possible is the key to success! Video is magic! If you don’t have a virtual meeting tool, ask your company to purchase one for you. Platforms like Webex, Zoom, Bluejeans and Skype are super!
2. Schedule short meetings with your team during the week to keep them connected. I recommend 15 minutes, video on. Create a simple format that enables everyone to contribute something. This is a great way to discover the talent that you have and the ways you can work together to do amazing business.
3. Set mutual expectations and agreements.
- Invite your team members to share what’s most challenging, cool solutions they are creating to address those challenges. This will create unity and remind team members that we are all in this together.
- Encourage abbreviated days to help people create a balance between work and family. -Create one collective goal for each week. Make it fun. Treat it like a puzzle to be solved. Hold each other accountable for contributing.
- Take 5 minutes each week to call each team member. Ask them how they are. Tell them you appreciate them and why. You can do this with FaceTime or using your favorite meeting tool.
RC: What else?
Mindfulness in business is always important. This window in time offers us a prime opportunity to realize its power. We’ve been racing through our days and we’ve adopted habits that do not serve us well.
This is a chance for us to reset, if we can cultivate a positive mindset, see opportunities we have to become more human in business and embrace this new pace.
By working mindfully and with intention, we just might realize that we can work fewer days and fewer hours and be more productive and more connected to each other than we’ve been for decades.
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HOW TO HELP: Ways to support local now
THE EXPERT: Alisha Robertson is a business coach and founder of Living Over Existing; a podcast, newsletter and community for women entrepreneurs who want to build a successful business without sacrificing the life they desire.
RC: For entrepreneurs, how do you stay focused during a crisis like COVID-19?
AR: What has helped me over the past couple of weeks is to choose one main task to focus on each day and nothing else. And I make sure that that one task is something that is going to help move my business forward in some way so that I am making the most of my time.
RC: For entrepreneurs who work from home but now have kids at home too, how do you get through it?What are some strategies or mindsets to adopt during this time?
AR: I definitely recommend giving yourself some grace especially if you have small children. Children don’t care much if you have work to do, and I’ve learned that there is no point in stressing over it and to just go with the flow.
It has been hard but I have learned to not try and stick to a normal schedule and to work whenever I get a free moment. Sometimes that looks like working during nap time or working after the baby goes to bed at night.
I’ve also had to lean on asking for help a lot more which means social distancing with my mom and sister so that they can hang out with the baby while I knock out calls. Now that my husband is working from home, we have been splitting up the day so that we each get a good amount of time to work throughout the day.
RC: What are some ways the community can support entrepreneurs at this time?
I believe that local entrepreneurs who rely on in-person customers need us more than ever now! If you’re able to purchase gift cards from local companies and use them at a later date, order take-out from your favorite restaurants or donate to their crowdfunding campaigns to help them keep their doors open!
Wake County Business and Job resources
Wake County Economic Development COVID-19 resources, one of the most extensive roundups of resources. [Raleigh-Wake.org]
Business relief resources including grants [Economic Development Partnership of NC]
Raleigh Chamber of Commerce resources for businesses, including many frequently asked questions [Raleigh Chamber]
An online course for managers from The Flourish Market’s Em Sexton, Leading Through Corona [EmSexton.com]
Places hiring now [WRAL TechWire]
More people are eligible to receive unemployment from the state. Learn more: [NC Dept of Commerce]