I have been working from home since 2001. First, I know that working from home is not for everyone. What’s different about today than two months ago is that two months ago, you had the luxury of turning it down.
A lot of people will talk about the logistics of setting up a productive environment, sticking to regular work hours, and even continuing to shower and dress for work every day. To me, those are the throw-away tips.
If you’re someone who has never worked from home, or you’ve opted out of it for a while because it wasn’t for you, I have the one piece of advice that will work for you:
Create an accountability relationship. This relationship can be with one person or a group of people. They can be in the same field, and the same role as you, or have a completely different career. That doesn’t matter to get started.
For the sake of ease, let’s say this is a group of two people. The two of you will set formal times to ‘meet’ by phone, zoom, skype, or another method, and it will be the same time every week or every few days. These logistics depend on whatever the two of you decide. The three rules that should be agreed upon are:
- You both commit to the process
- Everything discussed is 100% confidential
- Each call will be divided evenly between the two of you. No one gets to monopolize the time.
For the first call, you’re going to explain your job, your company briefly, and your industry to each other, so you both genuinely have an idea of the work and challenges involved in your role. After that, you’re going to set reasonable intentions for the week ahead – the work you plan to get done. Then you’re going to discuss any foreseeable challenges. You both do this, and you both take notes on what your accountability partner says.
For the second call, talk about the action items you completed, and the results. Then you discuss any action items that you failed to complete and the reason why. Each of you takes turns with these items. Then you each set your action items for the upcoming week.
An accountability relationship works because it’s uncomfortable to admit you didn’t complete your work, but it also works on a social level. You’ll become invested in your accountability partner’s success, as they will with yours. And even though you’re working from home, you won’t feel completely alone.