Tips for Working from Home

With all that is happening with COVID19 many libraries are moving to a work from home model until things settle down. ByWater Solutions has been an entirely work from home company for over 11 years so we wanted to share some tips and tricks for both staff and administrators that have helped us be very successful in this work environment.

Donna (Educator) Working at home can lead to some really bad habits, such as not having a good work/life balance. Something that works well for me: adhering to a schedule. I get up at a regular time, get ready just as if I was leaving the house to work (shower, brush teeth, makeup, brush hair, get dressed, accessorize, etc) and go to my "office". Then, at the end of the day, I change from work clothes to leisure clothes. It helps me to remember that I am "off work" now and to stop checking emails, etc. It is really tempting to grab your laptop and "just do a few things" while watching TV in the evening - stop it! You need a break to clear your brain!

Donna (Educator) We send daily emails with our to-do list, what we learned yesterday (professional or personal) and any blockers. It’s a great way to see what’s happening with each other, and the “learned” part is always interesting

Andrew (Educator) Consider wearing pants. Your mileage may vary, but many find it important to make a clear demarcation of work time and personal time while working from home, and putting on your usual work clothes can make a big difference, even when you’re not going to be on camera.

Brendan (Owner & CEO) Always share your video when using conferencing software. It creates a more personal connection during conversations and allows you to react to social cues much better than using voice only.

Kelly (Educator) Take breaks! Go outside and take a walk! Don’t eat lunch at your desk! Try to set up space in your house that limits distractions.

Margaret (Support Lead) You don't realize how noisy your home is until you're in a video call or conference call! Explain to your family or roommates when you need a quieter time and why. Communication about quiet/working hours and normal noisy hours is super helpful. That said, if you are used to working with a certain level of din you'll want to find ways of recreating that. It could be playing TV or streaming nature sounds in the next room over or listening to podcasts.

Liz (Systems) Pets are your new co-workers, as long as it’s not too often, their occasional pleading for you to play with them probably means it’s time for you to take a break too. Patting them can also be a stress reliever. Have some ritual that starts and ends your workday: Make a cup of coffee at the start, and put your computer to sleep at the end, or close your work websites if you’re going to use your computer for other stuff. For me it used to be “taking the kid to school” was the start of my day, and Mr. coming home from work was the end. We don’t have that now so it’s “take the dog for a walk” at the start, and “take the dog for a walk” at the end.

Rocio (Migrations) Get ready like you're leaving the house for work; you'll feel more productive! Put your computer in a space you can close off somehow for the day, whether that's in a space with a door or somewhere you won't see it when you've entered off work hours. Routine is key, and limiting the temptation to go back to your computer for a little something that "will only take 5 minutes" is important. It can turn into going to work again! Also a comfortable workspace is will help :-)

Nate (Owner & CRO) It is very important to create a space that you are comfortable working in. Some of our team members need to be isolated in their own space while others are equally comfortable sitting on the couch in their living room. Everyone has different optimal work environments so take the time to really evaluate what yours is. I find it important to take a short walk outside a few times a day as well. Also, make sure to eat! I often get engrossed in what I am doing and forget to have lunch so it is important to have a set time for meals each day.

Joy (President, Koha Division) Trust is an essential part of working from home. You need to have faith in your coworkers that they doing what is expected of them. Maintaining clear communication lines is a huge part of this trust. Create documents (shared google docs/spreadsheets, Trello boards, etc.) that help you organize the various parts of a project and have folks update the statuses of these projects. Video conferences are a great way to coordinate project activities. It's fun to see your coworkers in their home office as well. You will get to know your coworkers better as you meet their pets, kids, and partners. Have patience with your coworkers during this new era of telecommuting. Not only is it a work-style that takes some getting used to, we're now doing it during a stressful period when our entire families are home with us requiring some attention as well.

Be especially kind to your cats, they are probably the most unhappy about having 24/7 company in the house.

Jessie (Outreach) Remember to take time for yourself. As so many of us will tell you, remember to move, stretch, and shake. It is so easy to get sucked into what you are doing, look up at the clock and it’s 3 hours later. I will go for a short run in the middle of the day to get fresh air or take my dog for a walk. If the weather isn’t nice, walk around your house, up and down the stairs, or a crazy workout video to give you a little break.

Other Resources

There are some other great resources online!

20 Tips for Working From Home - PC Magazine

8 Tips To Make Working From Home Work For You - NPR

17 Important Tips For Anyone Who's Working From Home During The Coronavirus Outbreak - BuzzFeed

Read more by Jessie Zairo

Tags COVID-19, Work from Home