Back in 2014, I began my official journey from an office-based work environment to a work from home venture. Back then it was becoming more the norm for many professionals to seek this option and companies were starting to really come around to the idea. If there is anything I have learned it’s adapting to an environment where it’s easy to have your personal life cross over the invisible line to your work environment at times. What’s remarkable is some people don’t realize while it helps you to be productive in some capacities, it also runs the risk of becoming a work/life balance matter – if you let it. For staffing professionals working from home has the same inherent realities as for other professionals.
About 2 years ago I was working with Tangie Pettis answering some questions in the SourceCon Whova app (as part of the SourceCon Welcome Wagon). A sincere and honest question was proposed by a group member asking for some tips on how to navigate a work from home scenario as a staffing professional. We – as a result – created a Facebook Group where people could share tips about how to work through a remote work environment.
When Covid 19 found us in a stay at home/work from home adoption environment that quickly escalated; interest suddenly ballooned. It got to the point we couldn’t keep up with the volume of requests coming in, and soon the group exploded in membership by 1000%. Today the group has a membership of over 2200+ members today. Honestly, that’s just a primer of how important work from home as a flexible work arrangement is becoming. Our Group: Remote Talent Acquisition Professionals Support Group can be found by visiting here.
What follows are 6 tips for quick adaptation in a work from home world. I hope they are helpful to talent acquisition professionals everywhere.
Tip #1 – Ensure You Set Boundaries Early On as you Begin Working From Home
One immediate impact on the challenge of working at home was professionals realized that the measure of convenience to your home office means the temptation to work more. Professionals who previously had clear boundaries of work stayed at work, and home stayed at home had that boundary blurred. The key is to be aware of your own need to finalize projects and the time needed to do so.
It’s quite easy to have the dinner hour arrive and you just want “a few more minutes” to get a project done. When the family time arrives for one’s mental health it is not only important but healthy to “know when to stop.” That few more minutes of finalizing a project “while you are in the zone” can quickly become a temptation to do more, and that leads to a few more hours on the job, and before you know it you are burning the midnight oil.
Many workers find themselves in this boat, especially salaried workers who get paid to get a job done. And while this may seem like a way to get ahead, if you let it become a habit it immediately gets out of hand. The strategy to mitigate this after 6 years of working from home for me has been picking a start and end time where I focus in that period of time and don’t allow distractions to deter me from full productivity. This boundary of knowing when to stop is one of the most central and key factors to have success in a work at home world.
Tip #2 – Minimize Distractions
It goes without saying that minimizing distractions is absolutely paramount. Sometimes loud noises, pets, crying children, curious spouses, and others can easily make a work from home environment hard to maneuver. This became increasingly true for me, where my family had been away during the workday prior to Covid 19, but then when we found ourselves all at home during the day, it became that much more important to tell my family that while “dad was at work” I had a space that was off-limits to the family.
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- A quiet place that can minimize outside noise – this is important when you are on a conference call, meeting, or phone call.
- A place with adequate light and a non-distracting background – increasingly important for video calls.
- Good Internet bandwidth and connection – you want your internet browsing, and company-related work systems to function smoothly and adequately
- Back up options should your internet go down – for example, is there a place you can head to with wifi or a mobile hotspot you can access when your internet service provider gets disrupted.
- Have agreements in place for the above bullet with a colleague who can cover you on your out of office should the internet go down.
- A place where you can fully concentrate and be your most productive self during the workday – a comfortable work chair, comfortable ergonomic considerations, etc.
Tip #3 – Focus on Ergonomic and Comfort Circumstances
- Ergonomic considerations – Safety & Health Magazine has some great tips when working at home that can be accessed here.
- Do you have a good chair to sit in?
- Do you have materials nearby that avoid un-necessary stretching?
- Height of monitor, and dual monitor set-ups.
- Among other things have the discipline to set times to take breaks & for meals.
- Exercise is important intermittently.
- Adding task reminders for when to take breaks, and blocking tasks on your calendar can ensure no one can book you for your break/meal times.
- Taking breaks and being comfortable enable you to be your most productive.
Tip #4 – Use Productivity tools Religiously & Often
Many work at home professionals use Outlook to manage their calendar, just as mentioned above scheduling breaks and blocking your calendar works for deadlines and keeping yourself on task. By building into your workday a set of habitual routines and habits you are more likely to stay the course. Task reminders via task list, post-it notes, having adequate notebooks, and office supplies for the home are key. Many organizations allow you to order office supplies through Ariba or Concur for expense management. Use those tools to have adequate supplies to help you stay productive. A stocked office is a happy office. Use whatever budget that’s allotted to you to ensure you can function well. I have an office with an office printer provided by my employer and still to this day I love to pull out the highlighter to highlight the job description in order to guide my sourcing and focus. Many can function without these but it’s another way to stay organized.
Your computer desktop has files that can keep you focused by organizing your deadlines into project folders. Just like you would do this while sourcing/screening etc via whatever tool you may be using, this skill while seemingly small has saved me in a jam when I had a business partner asking for an update and I could quickly find the item the person was seeking because I was organized via folders. Your Outlook folders are also important – many work at home professionals organize their folders such that like items can be found quickly. Keeping a file of templates for emails, outreach, and other similar items are also very helpful for staffing professionals. There are also websites that you can subscribe to that can send you industry news – think www.owler.com . Further, there are also websites that can track your own views of sourcing channels and social channels where it is easy to be sucked into non-work-related activity. Using all such productivity tools and staying disciplined is vital for success in staffing.
Tip #5 – Know Yourself
Working at home is a blessing when you can focus forward effectively. This tip while it may seem simple is also vital. What are your tendencies when you are at home? Can you shift your mindset from – “I’m home I need to relax” to “This is the workday and I must focus.” Many professionals struggle with this, as well. One good thing to do is to establish your mindset and a routine that preps you for the work-day.
After 6 years of working from home, I still eat a light breakfast, with a protein drink, an apple, and an energy bar. Then I allow for some healthy 100 Calorie snacks throughout my workday morning – peanuts, grapes, cashews, etc. My lunch is how I reward myself for being productive in the morning as I know my morning is my greatest time-table for productivity. I also establish my routine to allow for a break mid-day and allow myself a bigger meal for my lunch. I do not historically eat my lunch at my desk. By doing this routine I have established that I can remain productive and concentrate and really be at my best. So knowing yourself is also a key factor for your success.
Tip #6 – The Bonus Tip – Write Down Your Goals for Each Day
The final tip I have is to consistently write down your goals for the next day. Having a list of goals helps you to prioritize your work focus. This has served me well in a work at home environment.
I really hope these tips can help you rise to the stars in your recruiting focus. It’s important to learn to stay the course while working at home and with some discipline, you can be productive and effective in your efforts. Working from home has many benefits, but navigating the maze of the reality of the workday just requires some ingenuity and planning. I am still glad I’ve had the opportunity to work from home all these years later. It’s been an amazing opportunity and a blessing to be able to help others grow and learn how to be a remote office superstar. Hopefully, the adoption of work at home scenarios will become more normal and I’m fairly certain the trend will continue.