As a developer, working from home is a privilege and chances are you’re REALLY starting to enjoy it. As lockdown relaxes, companies and managers will be deciding who can stay at home and who definitely needs a little more supervision, back at the office. If you’re loving your gig remote, and want to continue enjoying the sweet benefits, you need to WFH LIKE A BOSS! Focus on these 7 priorities for work-from-home productivity, and you’ll hold onto that treasured remote-work status.
Workspace. If you have space for a separate home office, or spare room that you could change, then setting up a workspace is a little easier.
If not, then you’ll need to set-up a dedicated space, that you recognise as your workspace. Try to keep it away from the most obvious and greater distractions, so you’re not tempted to “check if the fridge light is still working”, “see if the tv remote batteries are fresh”, or whether “your pillows still have enough puff”. As far as budget allows, get your self a decent chair. That one the company gives you at the office is ergonimcally designed, and approved by the Chiropractic Association, to keep you productive for 8 to 10 hours, without making you the South African Sciatic Champion. Try to find a space that has decent lighting, and as much as possible, keep the temperature balmy. The only thing that’s going to break your concentration more than leftover pizza, is freezing feet. Add a heater to your list of essential “work tools and you’ll be a comfy, happy WFH Boss!
Tech & Tools. We’re pretty certain, that as programmers, your boss has made sure that your computer is up-to-date before you headed home for the lockdown, but successful remote work is going to place a few extra demands on you than just storage and speed. First off, make surer that your wi-fi is top drawer. The Fortnite gamers amongst us will have this properly sorted, so if you’re unsure, ask them. You’re also going to be spending a lot more time in Zoom meetings, (read also Skype, Teams, Hangouts, etc) If you don’t want to be the latest WhatsApp celebrity, or laughed at while you’re wondering if you’re “on mute”, invest in a decent camera, microphone and speakers or headphones. This is a worthwhile career investment if you’ve lost all desire to go out of the front door ever again.
Planning & Time Management. First off, get used to planning tomorrow, this evening. Making the effort to prioritise your tasks for the next day, will save you an hour or more in the morning. Try and plan your biggest, hardest task, as early as possible. Lighten the task priority through the day, for example keeping phone calls and emails for the late afternoon. It might be worthwhile reflecting on the role that your usual commute plays in preparing you for your day, and plan a similar warm-up to your daily start, even if that means an actual drive around the block!
Dissing distractions. Your greatest distraction, after pizza and icicle-feet, is going to be family. Let them know what your work hours are, and that when you’re at your desk, wherever it is, you’re “not really available”. Plugging in your grand new headphones can be a strong visual signal to children that you’re “at the office”, and running an appropriate playlist, will eliminate the chatter of “home schoolers” and the dulcit harmony of the neighbours Jack Russells. You’ll know what music keeps you focused, and seriously productive. My best work playlists are a mix of video game, and movie sound-tracks, intense, and without lyrics.
Bossing Breaktime. Speaking about distractions, plan in enough breaks. You’ll quickly work out whether your concentration span has changed by being at home. Respect that by planning breaks to match. If you’re used to grabbing a coffee on the office balcony, find your new ‘balcony’, try some 15-minute gardening, or short walking-meditations (a favourite of Steve Jobs). Maintain a schedule of breaks, will improve your focus and your productivity, and a real chance to make new habits.
Habits – Old and new. Having a forced change of lifestyle, presents a great opportunity to review your regular habits, and take stock of what’s working for you and what’s maybe not-so-fantastic. That McDonald’s vanilla shake in the car for breakfast. Stop it. Get your 10’000 steps in, better! And if you’re really looking for a way to develop a few great new habits, give “Atomic Habits” by James Clear a read. https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits. He gives a very practical, easy-to-use approach to making positive change, and includes great downloadable tools, to help you kickstart your pursuit of becoming ‘productivity royalty’. And showering, brushing your teeth and getting out of your pyjamas, are non-negotiable! Sies man!
Over Communicate. Working from home, makes it very easy to get a little forgotten. Or a lot forgotten. Make sure you’re really clear on your manager’s expectations around communication and then go out of your way to exceed them. Not annoyingly so, but enough to remind him that you’re in touch, and keeping him updated on your work. Check in with him early in the day, and then maybe drop a daily status report when you’re packing up for the day. Stay in touch with colleagues too. They’ll need a go-to-person, and not just for work issues. Being the ultimate WFH Teamplayer, by showing patience, humour and kindness, share success and productivity secrets, and offer to pick up teammates overflow work, is going to strengthen your indispensability, and your value come bonus-time!
Getting your WFH reputation-score high and you’ll be cracking the code to the good life. It’s not about short-cuts and shorter days, but about getting shit done! WFH like a BOSS.