Working Smart versus Working from Home

smart working from home

I have been “smart working” for over 10 years. I have held either regional or global roles, which have demanded some very early mornings and some very late nights to work with colleagues around the globe. Smart working entails leveraging all the technology and tools available so that I can work anywhere, at any time.

Even for me during these last seven weeks, the term working smart has taken on new meaning. Based in Italy, the region where I live has closed its schools, and there is a mandatory “stay at home” law. That means I share my normally quiet office with my six- and eight-year-olds. At the beginning of this “new normal,” I didn’t feel like I was working “smart,” and the reality of “working from home” with all its distractions became real.

Over years of working from home, having a strategic mindset has allowed me to keep focused, and I realized quickly that now more than ever, it was critical for me to apply this — and not just to me — to my whole family.

Be Organized – Have a designated work space and maintain a routine.

  1. I have a space in the house where I work with all the necessary work comforts laptop, external monitor, proper office chair and desk — with all the necessary requirements, so I don’t put extra strain on my body.
  2. As my children are learning from home, they both have their designated “learning space” with all they need.
  3. We keep to our previous routine. Learning starts the same time as it did as if they were in school, and the topics mirror what they cover as if they were attending school. For example, science and social studies are normally on Wednesdays, and that’s how they continue to treat those topics — Wednesdays! And of course, recess occurs at its scheduled time, too.
  4. Be agile if you need to create new routines, then stick with those routines! I work quite a bit with my colleagues in the United States, so my husband and I had to create a new working routine. I have morning family duty. My husband works early morning until about 1 p.m., then my workday starts. I try to make dinner with the family regardless, so we can be together.

Be Relaxed – Practice self-care regularly and have realistic expectations.

  1. It is important to ensure you have regular breaks. I found a great app that has neck and shoulder exercises that last max 5 minutes!
  2. With so many priorities, and sometimes changing so quickly, I make a point of outlining a few must-completes for the day and it keeps me focused.
  3. As learning from home is new for the kids, the entire family tries to be realistic. We moved some science homework to the weekends; luckily, my boys consider this “playing” and not necessarily “studying”. Same goes for some mandatory reading. Again, I’m super-lucky because they love to read.

Be in touch – Set regular times to reach out to your colleagues and equip your home office to stay connected at all times.

  1. If working from home is new to you, and conference calls or meetings are not normally a big part of your day, make time to schedule “virtual coffee breaks” to simply chat and catch up. And during these emotional times, start with a five-minute check on how everyone is feeling before a call starts. And I don’t mean the normal, “How’s it going? Good. Thanks. Let’s move on.” I mean the “How’s it going?” and listen to the voice behind the words then ask the next question. “Hey, what happened? You don’t sound so good today?”
  2. Make sure you can stay connected. Ensure your wireless router is up and running all the time as well as any necessary devices. For these weeks, I will admit I allowed more screen time than usual, if it’s educational, and of course, some fun, too. So, make sure you have a battery backup on the wireless router, your gaming station, and your TV for uninterrupted, work time, learning time, play time and keep-in-touch time with friends and family.

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