Not all of us at BCG have experience working remote. But we are very fortunate that in times of uncertainty such as this, we do have the resources and the capability to work from home and stay connected with each other and with our clients. In light of these circumstances, we wanted to share some tips and tools if working remote is a new experience for you!
Always consider holding meetings virtually or doing screen shares, which are often free tools. Resorting to long emails with a lot of information on your capabilities or pricing might not come across the same as if you’d presented it yourself with your own personal touch!
Here are more tips and tools you can use daily!
1. A conference line. A good one that is free is https://www.freeconferencecall.com/. Once you create the account you can send it to multiple people, so all decisions makers are welcome to jump on and listen. Having a dedicated line to pass out as needed is an essential tool and eliminates a ton of back and forth.
2. A screen share option. Set up for a free account (or you can upgrade to premium versions) and share your screen and your presentation anytime. You can try Start Meeting https://www.startmeeting.com/. It offers a 30 day free trial (phone number or VOIP, record, etc.) or you can sign up and pay $12.95 a month per user. Another option we have used personally at BCG is Join.me https://www.join.me. This offers a free 30 day trial as well.
Using these tools allows you to stay in control of how your information is presented and who it’s presented to.
Now that you have your tools, it is time to look at your workspace. Here are some of our top tips for working from home productively!
1. Have a designated workspace. Decide where you will work from in your home and set up a space. Make sure you have access to plenty of outlets and that you have all your chargers, cords and necessary equipment. When setting up your space, try to find an area away from distractions and make sure you have a comfortable chair.
2. Get dressed. You don’t have to be fancy, but definitely change out of what you slept in. Believe it or not, wearing shoes can also have a huge impact on productivity.
3. Set your hours and start and end on time. Just like when you go into the office, have your morning routine – get your coffee or workout in and get to work on time. Don’t procrastinate.
4. Plan out what you will be working on. The day before, look at your tasks for the next day and solidify your schedule. Have a list ready so you know what to get started on right away. Plan your week to optimize your environment.
5. To stay on schedule, map out what you’ll do and when you’ll do it over the course of the day. Use your a calendar of your choice (Outlook, for example) to set events and reminders that will alert you when it is time to start your next task or block of time.
6. Work when you’re at your most productive. Are you on fire in the morning or is the afternoon more your “zone?” Your motivation will naturally ebb and flow throughout the day, and when you’re working from home, it’s more important to know when those ebbs and flows will take place and plan your schedule around it. Save harder tasks for when you know you’ll be in the right headspace for them. Use slower points of the day to knock out the easier, logistical tasks that are also on your plate.
7. Stay Connected. Be accessible and check in with your team. At BCG, we use Slack (www.slack.com) to message our co-workers, keeping e-mail uncluttered for client interactions. Have all employees hop on board so you are all connected and each feel like you are part of the team. Other resources include WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Basecamp and Microsoft Teams.
8. Make it clear to family and friends that you are working. Have a sign you post on the door to indicate you should not be interrupted. Decide if you need noise cancelling headphones or earbuds to eliminate background noises.
9. Distractions will call your name and you need to be strong. Don’t surrender to some of the common distractions of home, like putting in a load of laundry, turning on the TV or doing other household chores.
10. If you are a social media addict, avoid it altogether. Shut off social media notifications during the day. This will help avoid interruptions, so you can focus on getting more done.
11. Take clear breaks. Get up and stretch! Use your breaks to get away from your desk. Go for a walk outside or spend time with others who might also be in the house. Breaks, like making and eating lunch, can recharge you to do better work. Don’t assume you need to be working 100% of the time while you’re home to be more productive.
12. Another work from home reality is that we have full access to the kitchen. When it’s time for lunch or a snack break, we are immediately drawn to the usual snacks – chips, cookies, frozen pizza. However, research has shown that eating fruits and vegetables has a direct link on overall productivity levels. If you are an avid snacker, make it a point to make yourself a healthy lunch, just as you would if you had to go into the office.
13. Enjoy your time and flexibility. The beauty of working from home is that it allows you to concentrate fully on important projects without distractions. It allows you to have lunch in your own kitchen or your favorite places nearby. It allows you to listen to any music you want and to replace your commuting time with something enjoyable. Take advantage of the time each week to recharge in your own personal space.
14. Consider creating a vision board for your home office space. A vision board is just that – a board that you can use to write notes and post pictures of your dreams and aspirations. The visualization aspect of a vision board is a great and powerful mind exercise. It can help you feel the way you want to feel. This could help you get out of your work from home slump and pave a new, clear path to productivity and success.