Guest Post: Working from home – Tips and Advice from Friends and Colleagues

 

This is a guest post from Victor Zuniga, Chair of the Innovative User Group and System Administrator at Poudre River Public Library District 

It has been a week or so since most libraries started closing their doors due to COVID-19. Nonetheless, most of us are now working from home. The IUG Steering Committee wanted to gather some collective wisdom from friends and colleagues experienced in working remotely.  Listed below is their advice: 

Daily routines 

Where you work matters. Even when you don’t head to a separate building for work, it should feel like a separate space. 

Pia Jones | ICM Events 

  • Get dressed for work each day. Giving into the urge to stay in pjs all day makes you feel non-productive.
  • Keep a schedule just as you did when working at the Library.
  • Take a lunch break each day just as you would at work. If you live with someone else who is working at home, arrange for your lunch break in the kitchen, back yard, a walk or something. 
  • While it might feel productive to be running a load or two or laundry, don’t. Stay on task with work and try to replicate your normal workday as much as possible. 

 Stephanie Chwalibog, CMP I Event Manager | Innovative Interfaces, Inc. 

  • Keep your morning routine:If you got up every morning an hour early to have coffee and walk the dog keep that  Also keeping with your morning hygiene route; shower, brush your teeth, etc. Prepare as if you were going to the office. 
  • Do not turn on the TV: If your home is too quiet, turn on the radio, white noise machine, anything that you could potentially do in your library. 
  • Set boundaries (with your family and self): Work your normal work hours. It is very easy to work longer hours when you are working from home. Set boundaries to work only between specific hours. Let your family know that these hours are your work hours. When you are home it is not a  vacation.
  • It’s still ok to use the phone. Call someone if typing an email will be long and complicated or could be misunderstood 

Kathy O’Gorman, Business Manager | IUG 

  • I suggest having a designated spot, preferably a separate room where the door can be closed, that is the “office” or “workspace”. Put on work clothes or a hat that means “I’m at work” to everyone else at home. 

Frank Florian, Principal Systems Librarian – Encore | Innovative Interfaces, Inc. 

  • I like to get out and go for a walk or a bike ride after work after spending the whole day inside. It’s just one of the things I need to do to keep sane and healthy when working from home, because of the increased social isolation as well as decreased physical activity that working from home brings along with it. 

Hillary Newman, Senior Vice President, Client Support and Success | Innovative Interfaces, Inc. (For supervisors and managers) 

  • Frequent and Consistent Check-ins. Check-in frequently and regularly with remote employees. The cadence of the check-ins can vary from daily to bi-weekly to weekly but should always be consistent and entail a standing meeting or scheduled one-on-one 
  • Exemplify Solid Communication Skills.You cannot overemphasize the importance of general, stellar communication with remote teams. Be a great listener, communicate trust and respect, inquire about workload and progress without micromanaging, and err on the side of over-communicating. At times it can be ok to have a conversation over the phone, and then email out the details to confirm people are on the same page with you. 
  • Prioritize Relationships. Team building and camaraderie are important for any team and remote teams are no exception. I challenge you to go out of your way to form personal bonds with your remote folks. Use check-in time to ask about their personal life, families, and hobbies. Allow team meeting time for “water cooler” conversation so the whole team can create personal connections and strengthen relationships 

Mental health and Wellbeing 

A quick video from Henrietta H. Fore, UNICEF Executive Director, on the importance of staying positive and connected with family, colleagues, and friends via a phone call, video chat or text message: 

Additional resources: 

  1. https://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2020/03/20/tips-for-working-at-home-from-someone-who-does-it.html
  2. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/organizational-culture/work-from-home-video-call-strategy/
  3. https://stackoverflow.blog/2020/03/12/working-from-home-tips-from-our-experienced-remote-employees/
  4. https://www.vitalsmarts.com/crucialskills/

Special thanks to Pia Jones, Kathy O’Gorman, Hillary Newman, Kirsten Matetich, Stephanie Chwalibog, and Frank Florian for their generous advice and input as we assembled these tips for our community.