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WFH Series #3: Key mindset shift to improve how you work from home

Updated: Apr 5, 2022

Original post on Linkedin.


A day working from home...

  • Alarm goes off.

  • Roll out of bed, start the morning coffee ritual.

  • It is about now that the emails get checked, figuring out what else needs to get done for the day. What needs to be prioritised.

  • A meeting is already scheduled in for 9:00am. To get ahead of the day before getting lost in it, drafting a few emails while finishing off breakfast.

  • Running through meetings and tasks.

  • Sometimes with a bit of time to grab lunch. Although not uncommon to realize it is 3:00pm and you haven't got up from your desk that day.

  • Continuing through the workday, maybe shutting the laptop at 6:00pm / 6:30pm.

  • Possibly jumping online a bit later to “check in” and reply to a few things.

Does this day sound familiar?

Or perhaps you have found yourself on the opposite end, struggling to get anything done. Feeling unproductive and unmotivated.

This is something that is intrinsically difficult about working from home. Your day does not have the same structures in place as working from an office. There are few prompts to help you take breaks. Little to vary up the day so it is not just you, staring at your computer all day (or off into nothingness).

This is one of the biggest risks I see where people really struggle with working from home, and find that it really does start to hurt their wellbeing. Instead of delivering on a promise of more time because there is no commuting & you can stay in your puppy PJ bottoms…

WFH can feel worse for our wellbeing.

And in case that wasn’t enough, you might find yourself sneaking into self-critical mode like I do 🙋‍♀️. Your inner voice saying you “shouldn’t be working so much” and “if you were just more organised / diligent / productive” you wouldn’t be here.

That is why I want to share with you the biggest shift that needs to happen, so WFH can feel like it helps rather than hurts your wellbeing.

That is to shift from being reactive to being proactive.

What do I mean by that?

In a typical workday in an office, we are often quite reactive. Particularly when it comes to the structure and breaks in our day. We get into the office, maybe check our emails before we head into meetings. Bounce from meeting room to meeting room, with some time at our desks here and there. Along the way, we often have those spontaneous interactions. “Hey, let's go grab a coffee”. Or heading out with colleagues at lunch time.

Having those different breaks in the day provides us a number of valuable opportunities: we see different environments. We connect with different people. It all happens quite reactively and quite organically. When working from home, if you don't do it by design then it is likely to slip off. We need to shift to being proactive in our day to protect our wellbeing.

What I want to give to you is two examples of how you can be proactive in making connections and making time for yourself while working from home.

Tactic #1

The first one, which is my favourite, is walking meetings. This gives you the ability to get out of your desk, get up and move your body, while still being able to connect with someone. There is a different type of connection we have when taking a walk together. Even if it is a virtual walk, it is different than if you are sitting in front of your computer.

Give it a try:

  • Take a look at your calendar, and see if you have any 1:1 meetings that are 30+ minutes. Send them a message to check if they would be up for a walking meeting.

  • You both put your headphones in and have your videos on. Then you take a walk around the park, around your block, around your neighborhood. Wherever it might be that gets you outside and your blood moving.

Bonus Tactic

Schedule two of your 1:1 meetings, back-to-back. This gives you a 30-minute walk somewhere, and a 30-minute walk back. Suddenly you’ve had a full hour of physical activity. You’ve mixed up your environment, and had a break from sitting in front of your desk. I guarantee you will have a different conversation with that person than if you would just catching up 1:1 sitting in front of a computer.

Tactic #2

I'm going to steal this one from one of my colleagues, Mel vonHartitzsch. She is one of the best at this that I've come across, and that is: proactively reaching out to people.

She sends on average 2x to 3x the number of messages to her colleagues than anyone else in the company. She has been fully remote for over five years, and she says that's the way that she is able to connect with people, and that messaging is really her only channel.

So, whether it is:

  • cheering you on for a key project or account

  • checking into seeing how you're going

  • sharing what she has been working on

  • sharing the meetings that she has been in

  • Identifying the challenges that she is facing or help that she might need

Mel is a superstar at making that effort to connect. She invests time in that, recognizing and valuing that proactive communication. Not only does it create opportunities for collaboration and make getting work done easier. It also creates that sense of personal connection with other colleagues.

Those are two ideas for how to shift from being reactive to proactive in your work from home day. What are some of your own tactics?

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