Working from Home…Together

By on March 20, 2020

For those of you (like me) who work from home ALL of the time, social distancing is still wreaking a bit of havoc. When I work from home, I typically do so ALONE. Now, I have some new “colleagues” (aka my family) joining me at what I have referred to as my company’s Verona Office (to the confusion of some colleagues until I explain that it has a very-small network, one desk, and while fully operational, the food service is sometimes lacking).

When we have had the unexpected snow day, I have been creative in the moment navigating a new routine. Presented now with extended closures, I would love to hear your tips that are helping you with this new normal of your working from home. Here’s one of mine: I have designated work areas (plural!) organized around the nature of my work that I can access depending on my needs.

While it is good to have a dedicated work space, when you are not alone in your space, it may not be the right work space depending on what you are doing: What might be a good space for desk work might not be great for conference calls or video conferencing. When I’m alone at home, I can change my situation as I need by making use of different spaces. When I know that I will have company, I review my calendar at the beginning of the day and plan my strategies in advance to anticipate my needs changing during the workday.

My dedicated work space is a spare room and is ideal for most of my working needs. However, it is not sound-proof or interruption-proof (there is no lock on the door). When I am concerned about background noise and interruptions, I have learned to:

  • Actively use the Mute button – After years of practice, I’ve mastered the Mute button like the buzzer beneath the hand of a winning game show contestant
  • Be ready to move at a moment’s notice – I have learned to juggle my laptop while sprinting to quieter places when unexpected interruptions occur
  • Find the ideal Quiet Zone – I confess, I have spent many calls in my bedroom closet. I can lock my bedroom door, go into the closet, and have a noise-free uninterrupted conversation!
  • Find the ideal Quiet-and-Video-Friendly Zone – It was a bit challenging, but I found a corner behind a locked door where I have a blank wall behind me, a lamp and window next to me, and a small table on which I can place my laptop at desk-height.

Finally, when I can, I take advantage of the fact that I am home and actively work alongside my family. When the children were younger, my daughter would sometimes sit next to me doing her homework while I worked. Especially in uncertain times, being physically present has helped create a sense of continuity, structure and balance.

What tips do you have to share? #workfromhome #workathome #together #WTWLife

Nancy Petrarca Romanyshyn is the director of talent & rewards at Willis Towers Watson.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

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