As a result of recent restrictions on gatherings, many businesses have been forced to have their employees work from home. In a bit of irony, I find myself currently writing a blog about working from home on my home computer, after our workplace temporarily closed shop. It can be a difficult transition. We are all creatures of habit, and we like our routines. From the morning commute, to our first cup of coffee, to greeting our colleagues, these seemingly mundane activities are a vital part of gearing up for the day ahead.
In sales, this transition can be especially jarring because, after all, a big part of your job is personal interaction. Perhaps no profession is more naturally averse to the term “social distancing” than the people who rely on personal connections to make their living–it’s how you build the trust that leads to the long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships essential to your livelihood. Here are a few things that might help you stay productive during this change.
Maintain Your Routine
For those who commute to work, much of our morning is often rushed. You’ve got to feed the pets, get the kids to school, beat the traffic. Without realizing it, this process prepares us for a hectic workday. Working from home, however, can create a false sense of time—that you have too much of it. Instead of sauntering into your home office in pajamas and slippers, get dressed. While you could probably forgo the dress shirt and shoes, it’s often difficult to feel professional if you don’t at least look presentable.
Stick to a Schedule
Different from a routine, which is the often-unconscious, day-to-day tasks we do like getting ready for work, a schedule is the regular times we do certain things. Stick to a definite time to be at your desk checking email, making calls, preparing for the day. Maybe you take a walk every morning at 10am and make cold calls at 11. Working from home can throw this off. We often don’t realize how a set schedule helps us react without thinking, make decisions based on intuition and experience. Without it, you could find yourself staring into space, unsure what to do.
Create a Workplace Geared for Work
If you don’t often work from home, you could find that your home office is not set up for actual work. Your desk has become a storage bin for old bills and trinkets. Your pens are dried up and useless. You must search for a pad of sticky notes. These frustrations can build to the point where you spend more time preparing to work than working. Spend a few minutes to clear up space and refresh the supplies needed to keep you productive.
While many of us place our personal cell phone on silent at work, you could find yourself keeping it on at home. This would be a mistake. You’d be surprised how many rings and dings you get during the day that immediately take you out of that zone we can get into at work. Instead, train yourself to turn your notifications off, and put it back on as you take breaks. Trust me, this also goes for your cats and dogs. Although they do not come with an off switch, you might want to limit their access while you work from home.
Although working from home can feel unusual at first, these tips can help you achieve a sense of normalcy. Remember, much of our time at work takes place inside a bubble. You never know when your boss will round the corner and see directly at your computer. This helps to keep us on our toes and maintain the professionalism needed to perform at our best. At home, the tendency might be to relax. While it’s comfortable, it’s too easy to fall into bad habits that lead to a loss of productivity. Just because you’re home, you’re not on vacation. The clock is still ticking. Deadlines and margins must be met. And though they can’t see you, your team and your customers are still counting on you.