Written by Cognos Consultant, Mike Bernaiche
April 2nd, 2020
Over the past couple of weeks, the world has changed significantly with the Pandemic of Covid-19. As I write this, I’m certain there will be additional changes to our daily routines. One change that some and maybe many will be dealing with is working from home. While not having to leave the house and drive in traffic or make that long commute sounds amazing to some. The reality is that the first few weeks of working from home can be challenging. I worked in an office for close to 20 years and made the move to Lodestar Solutions as an IBM Cognos consultant working from home over 6 years ago. I learned a lot of tricks along the way and I wanted to share them with you and hopefully help those that may need it.
The First Days
The first couple of days at home are great. As I said above, no commute, working with your sweats or shorts on, and feeling some freedom. I would get up in the morning, shower like normal and get dressed and head to “the office”. Well in this case, my home office. It was exciting! I was able to limit distractions around the house and put in a solid 9 hours of work. Think about it… You don’t have the normal office distractions of in hall conversations, co-workers stopping by your office to chat about last night’s game etc. I wasn’t leaving the house to go out to lunch or trying to get out of the office early to avoid the commute home. In all truth, I was working more hours than going into the office. I avoided 1.5 hours of total commute and I spent that time working.
The Next 3 Weeks
As I settled in, a few strange things started happening. I started feeling “alone” and my coworkers became my dogs or the neighbor when I went out to get the mail. I started becoming easily distracted and frustrated that I wasn’t getting as much done in a day. My production dropped much like in an office environment. I felt trapped going into my home office each day. Please understand, I’m not complaining at all, I realized I had it great working from home, however I wasn’t happy with the feelings that started. It got to the point that I felt like I was at the office 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I knew I needed to do something to change up the routine and fix my mindset for working at home. Below are some of the things I have learned along the way to make working at home a great balance between work and everything else.
My co-workers on a break
10 Things I Learned Over Time
- Take breaks or stand up 10 min every hour. Stretch, walk the dogs, put in a load of laundry, go outside and breath some fresh air.
- Eat lunch without your computer in front of you. You certainly do not need an hour-long lunch break but take 20 minutes and eat. You can use this time to think, read social media and relax.
- Once every week to 10 days, go out for lunch and interact with other people. Call a friend and meet them somewhere. (Of course, this applies after we are through this current Pandemic)
- Use a planner like The High Performance Planner from Brendan Burchard or Panda Planner . Their planners help keep you organized but also ask you to write a lot of other things down to keep you on track and keep your mind focused on what you have accomplished.
- Utilize tools like Zoom for online meetings and use your camera. Using your camera on your computer can bring some human connection. Use Smartsheet for online collaboration and work production and to keep your team and yourself accountable.
- Move work locations to different parts of the house often. It can be the kitchen table, a comfortable chair, your home office or your deck / patio.
- When you are busy with a project or something pressing, put your out of office on your email. Email can be very distracting. At a minimum turn the sound off so you don’t hear the ding every five minutes and jump over to check the email.
- Put the radio / music on or listen to podcasts in the background. It makes you feel less lonely.
- Talk with your family so they understand that while you may be at home, you are working. This is especially true in the summer when kids are out of school and want you to run them around all over the place. Yes, take time when you can to take your son or daughter to their friends but do not make it a habit.
- When you are done for the day, be done for the day. Spend time with your family or friends. Put the computer away and don’t check email from your phone. Let your boss know if they need something that is important, text you.
This is my list of things that can make working from home a great experience. None of us know how long we will have to deal with the current restrictions in place around the country. However, this may be reality for some for a while and I hope the above thoughts help when you have to work from home.
If you have any questions please feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m more than happy to provide any input I can to help you through this transition. OK got to run…. It is time for my 10 minute hourly break!
For all of our IBM Cognos clients, check out our recent blog on IBM Global Financing. Don't let this time of uncertainty stop you from achieving your goals.