In a recent podcast in our Training Unleashed series, 10 members of the Tortal Training team shared their tips and secrets on working from home successfully.
Why are these training pros especially equipped to offer advice on this topic? There is a simple reason, which is that since 2013 and even earlier, many of our employees have been working from home. We are pioneers in the field!
So let’s hear the advice that these work-at-home pros have to offer about how they manage their routines, how they set aside workspaces, and lots more.
Stephanie Stiles, Vice President, Learning Development
I would say that my number-one tip would be to set ground rules and expectations with those around you so that they know that, hey, this is my work time.
Even though I’m at home, this is a dedicated opportunity for me to devote my attention to my work. And there will be break times, but setting clear expectations with family or friends or, you know, others who are around is very important.
It’s very important to carve yourself out a dedicated workspace, even if you do not have a set office space that is your perimeter that you utilize. And when you’re in it, the other people in your household know that it is your time to work, and not to distract you from that.
Adria Myers, Instructional Designer
I would say the number-one tip that I would like to share would be to carve out time for self-care, whether that means making sure you take lunch, making sure you step outside and things like that.
If you just dive into your day before you know it, it could be 2:00 p.m., and you maybe haven’t even stepped outside or taken a break to get coffee or a meal. So I would say definitely make sure you’re taking care of yourself.
Joshua de la Vega, Senior Systems and Development Engineer
I live in Quito, Ecuador, just south of the border, and I have had a very interesting 20+ years working remotely, six years with Tortal. I can say maybe one of the biggest tips that I have is to jot things down and make a list of what you want to accomplish each day – and make sure that you are on that track.
And the second tip would be to communicate. Having a team and having technical backgrounds, touching many technical points in the company makes it sometimes hard to understand who’s doing what. So communication is always key.
Every hour, every hour and a half maybe, just stand up, walk around, put your mind on a different thing and then come back to work. That is always very refreshing. And just to put your mindset towards success, I believe.
Erin Brennan, Assistant Vice President, Learning Strategist
I’m the lucky girl that gets to work directly with our clients to uncover their training goals and challenges and opportunities. What I would share is super obvious. But having worked in a physical office with colleagues for years, I think it’s critical that you show up every morning dressed and ready, even if it is in a virtual environment. I think it helps to really mentally prepare you for the day that you’re about to start. So that’s my key to success.
Greg Dumont, Learning Technology
My tip is to start very early if you’re in a responsive position, if you’re handling problems all day and you’re the guy to go to. I think it’s important for me to start early and do the time-sensitive stuff that I can get done. So I have more time to react during the day.
Mike Ziglar, Vice President, Learning Development
From a leadership standpoint, I would say it’s keeping a team environment and communication plan. And you know, emails don’t let you see each other. You can’t have an office environment with email, but if you do visual calls and see each other and operate as a team, I think is vital just to keep the office environment intact and the camaraderie.
So I think it’s really important to see people. Very much so.
Desiree Lackey, Instructional Designer
I would say a good tip is to have a little bit of background noise, if possible. For instance, some relaxing mood music going on or something. Especially if you’re used to being in an office environment where you have a lot of people around. Just that little bit of chatter or a little bit of relaxing background noise.
Matthew Cole, Senior Instructional Designer
My tip would be to make sure that all distractions are far away from whatever your designated work area is. It’s really easy for someone who is not used to working from home to think they can sit down right next to the TV and just be able to work without any interruption. But it’s easy to get distracted. So I recommend removing all distractions from your workspace.
Brannon Dreher, Vice President, Learning Strategy
So I actually did some research because when I first started with Tortal six years ago, it wasn’t my first time working remotely. It’s actually been proven that people are a little bit more productive when they work from home, because they don’t have that nervous mindset of the manager that is kind of over-watching them. So when they get up and go to the bathroom, they’re not thinking, “Man, I walked past my manager, who’s going to say, `Well, what’s Brannon doing away from his desk again?’”
So my tip is working for 30 to 45 minutes straight at your job, and then getting up and doing something that takes an unconsciously competent effort, like loading the dishwasher or changing out a load of laundry. That shuts your mind down because you don’t have to spend a lot of effort to think about how to load the dishwasher and load the dishwasher in five minutes, shutting your mind down and coming back to work refreshes your mind. And so when you come back to work for that next 30 to 45 minutes, you’re actually a little bit more productive. So you do that throughout the day. Thirty to 45 minutes. Then you get up and you go do something that is unconsciously competent.
Lee Wedgeworth, Vice President, Learning Technology
My tip is simply to drink lots of water, which will kind of force you without even having to remember to do all the things that everyone else is talking about, about taking breaks and vision breaks and making sure you don’t stay seated for too long. Drinking lots of water will kind of make you do that, whether you want to or not.
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A future post on this blog will explore a critical question for people who manage teams that are working from home . . .
How can a manager be sure the members of his or her team are really working?