The process and pitfalls of staying productive while working remote are many and varied. Fortunately, the path from kitchen to “office” is a well-worn one. If you find yourself suddenly working from home, you may be facing a different set of challenges that threaten to turn the thin line we call work/life balance into a blurry, unsecured border.
Hold onto your edge, and your sanity, by building these good habits as soon as possible.
Setting and sticking to a routine
One of the most widely recommended good habits is creating a working routine and sticking to it. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your mind and body have become accustomed to the rhythms of your professional life.
These routines help us transition from our roles at home into the positions of our profession. Throw them off and the whole day can start out wrong. Be mindful of your daily schedule and hold it dear. The actions and activities that define your workday will, to some degree, define your success when working at home.
Leaving work at work
That routine you just read about? Make sure it ends.
Working from home means opening up a space and time that used to be closed off to coworkers. It’s important for your mental health and stamina to set limits on how much of your job is allowed to extend into your home life. Unless your role demands a great deal of accessibility, do your best to maintain the same boundaries that exist in the office.
One simple way to do this is to make it clear when your day is ending. Tell relevant peers when you’re signing off and set your status accordingly. Once “home,” stay there. If the work can wait, it should, and your boss knows how to reach you if it can’t.
On a related note, maintain the availability and connections you have with coworkers. Log on to your law firm’s collaboration tools like each day. For clients, make sure they know how to reach you, and ask the same of them. Keeping in contact matters most when the casual interactions of a shared workspace are stripped away from you.
If you manage a team, consider establishing a morning stand-up meeting of 15-30 minutes to share daily priorities and roadblocks on the horizon. Everyone has different needs and preferences when it comes to communication but it’s important to establish new norms so that people know when and how to contact you just like they would in the office.
Focusing like never before
One potential benefit of remote work is that the distractions of the office can all but disappear. Of course, being at home brings its own challenges, but many people enjoy working from home on occasion because it can be so productive.
Take advantage of the opportunity to focus if you can. Set up a good workspace, limit your digital distractions, and see what you can accomplish when you don’t have a cadre of coworkers tugging at your eyes and mind every hour.
Getting good at technology
New to remote work? Like it or not, you just became the IT department – at least the front lines of it. Telecommuting relies on technology in a way that office work doesn’t have to. You need to get comfortable with video conferencing, sharing your screen, and collaborating in the cloud.
Today’s business and legal technology is perfectly capable of supporting your practice outside of the office, but you have to know how to use the tools at hand. So, sign up for that webcast, look for the “product support” sections of websites, and ask Google before you ask a millennial. You’ll be surprised how much great content is out there waiting to help.
Above all else, pay attention to your personal situation. As you face the days ahead, stay aware of any new habits you’re creating and make sure you’re doing right by your mind, body, and clients.
More concerned about falling into bad habits? We’ll address those in this related post.
This post was created in response to the COVID-19 virus and its impact on law firms. For more information to help support you and your business, visit our COVID-19 resource center.