By Dave Ongie, News Editor
During her time as a public relations professional, Mary Ellen Miller has spent a good deal of time working exclusively out of her home. Known as “Marketing Mel,” Miller was able to establish a strong personal brand from her home office.
For those of you who suddenly find yourself working from home during this time of social distancing, Miller offers 10 tips to help you find professional success while maintaining sanity in your personal life during this challenging time.
Miller has found a great deal of success working from home by establishing routines that helped her stay organized, maximize her productivity and separate her work life from her home life. Miller did such a thorough job of creating a clear boundary between her workspace and the rest of her house that she could tell her dog, “Go to work,” and her dog would instinctively trot off to her home office and curl up in his usual chair in the corner of the room.
• Stick to your routine – Whatever you did in the morning before you left for the office, you’ll want to do when you’re working from home. Wake up at the same time. Shower, shave, or put on makeup. Exercise, pray or meditate. In short, keep doing what you were doing before in order to minimize disruption in your daily life.
• Wear your uniform – Most office workers don’t have a uniform per se, but there is a “business casual” uniform most professionals wear to work each day. So dress in the clothes you’d normally wear to the office. You probably didn’t go to your office in your pajamas before, so don’t start now.
• Establish a designated workspace – The main ingredient to working successfully from your home is designating and organized workplace within your home. Ideally, this is a separate room with a door. When you walk through that door, you are at work. When you leave that room and close that door behind you, you are at home. If you lack the space to designate a whole room as a workspace, find a quiet corner of your dwelling and organize it the best you can. But whatever you do, Miller advises against working from the kitchen table, because there will be too much traffic in that area, which will impede your ability to be productive and organized.
• Use a camera when possible – It’s tempting to do business over the phone, but if you have the ability to make video calls, Miller strongly encourages it. It will make people feel more connected to you, and you to them.
• Stay connected through technology – In the age of FaceTime, Skype and Zoom, social distancing can happen without nearly as much isolation. Reach out to co-workers, clients, friends, family and others with the technology you have in order to combat the feeling of isolation that can come from working at home.
• Keep your meetings – If you belong to organizations, do what you can to keep your meetings, albeit virtually. If you belong to a church that is not holding Sunday services, find out whether the church is live-streaming services online, and do what you can to attend virtually. Stay plugged in and connected.
• Look for future trends – Once you’ve established a good work routine, start looking ahead to the potential effects of the coronavirus epidemic on your industry or sector. For example, Miller has a friend who owns a retail store in Buffalo, New York. Her friend is starting to focus more attention on her line of baby clothing in anticipation for a time nine months from now when a lot of couples who have been cooped up in the house together might find themselves in the market for her goods.
• Exercise – If you can’t go to the gym during this time, be sure to get outside and get some exercise. Fresh air, sunlight and physical exertion are all vital to good health, and the onset of spring makes it easy to stay active. So take a walk through your neighborhood, and wave at your neighbors from a good social distance.
• Be kind – There is plenty of stress in the world, so do what you can to help others when possible. Check in on elderly neighbors, and do what you can to help others get through this tough time.
• Give to the charity of your choice – Giving is an elixir that heals both the giver and the one who receives. If you are able to give, make sure to continue supporting the charities of your choice in the days ahead.