The challenges of working from home are myriad. There are children to tutor, dogs to walk, shows to binge on. Hallway hellos and brainstorming at the whiteboard have given way to the stilted cadence of Zoom meetings. But three months into the work-from-home era, some best practices are emerging.
1. Shift your mind-set.
More than ever you will be measured on output, not how many hours you sat at your desk. “It’s a different way to approach work” and translates to more freedom to design your day, said Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, the chief executive of Herrmann, a multinational company that creates tools to help employees communicate better. While there are still unavoidable meetings, creating chunks of time to turn off notifications and focus deeply on your own projects, called “time-boxing,” can lift the quality of your output, she said.
2. Take the initiative.
Don’t expect your higher-ups to have it all figured out. Almost every aspect of work is being reconsidered, so jump in with suggestions, big or small. Even figuring out new Zoom or Teams features and giving a quick lesson can be useful.
3. Don’t forget career advancement.
Keep thinking and talking about the areas you want to improve, the parts of the company you want to explore and how you may get there. While it’s not as easy as poking her head in an office, Ms. Bello-Asemota carves out time to connect with her mentor, a vice president at the firm, to get feedback on topics like work style and the level of responsibility she is being given.
4. Use what worked before.
Take home with you the best habits you formed at the office. Setting priorities and communicating, for example, are still essential to effective work. Iyobosa Bello-Asemota, an investment banking analyst at Morgan Stanley, creates financial analyses for a number of different teams. She makes sure to keep them all apprised of the tasks she is juggling and how she is organizing her time.
5. Remove distractions.
Without the boss periodically peeking over your shoulder, it’s easy to take a quick break and realize an hour later you’re still on that unending Twitter or Instagram scroll. Take social media off your work machine. Leave your phone in another room.
6. Find office allies.
Brainstorm, review work together before submitting it or just check in. Crossing paths in the break room is a thing of the past, so Ms. Kaplowitz schedules short “coffee chats” via videoconference to catch up with colleagues on work, or just to talk.