While working from home may be a new practice for many people, it’s just another day at the office for the staff of Aroundabout Local Media. We have worked from our home offices since December 2014. We’re not experts, but, since we’ve had years of experience, we thought we’d share some of our best tips and advice with you.
Patty Ponder, ALM President
Between my current and previous job, I have been working from home for 25 years. Here is some advice that has worked for me. Always have a work schedule like you are in an office. Get up with an alarm, get dressed as if you were going to an office. Set up a dedicated office space, free from distractions. You will keep on task if you plan what you want to accomplish for the day and the week.
Eating while working at home can be tricky. Have lunch and run errands at lunch time. If you find it’s too easy to wander off to the kitchen, pack your lunch and snacks as if you were leaving for the day (make a spot in your fridge with your lunch, and a couple of snacks). Watch what you eat, so you don’t gain weight because you are working from home.
The other challenge is the end of the day; walk away at a designated quitting time or you will find yourself working constantly. Be sure to enjoy the commute! Having the extra time can reduce stress and give you a chance to take a walk and enjoy some exercise.
Jennifer Coleman, Market Manager
Working from home is truly a gift that I don’t take for granted. To stay focused, I plan my day the evening before, so that I have a game plan, along with a priority list of the things I need to get done first. I have two computers that I work on simultaneously, which is a huge help. I also keep a fun notebook with my favorite writing pen to jot down ideas and pertinent information throughout the day. I only check personal emails and social media at lunch and after work, so that I stay focused on the task at hand. I’m a huge advocate of dressing for success when working from home, even if it’s a business-casual cute top and jeans. It gets me into work mode and ready to speak with clients. A few musts for me to enjoy my surroundings: having all necessary resources at my fingertips, my favorite coffee mug or tumbler, and a fragrant candle. I also tend to have our dogs as my office assistants, which I find very comforting!
Candi Hannigan, Executive Editor
I’m offering a different perspective from my colleagues. While I have a desk set up with a printer, a desktop monitor, and other tools of the trade, I rarely use it. I work best from other spaces in my house: the couch, the recliner, the outdoor table or Adirondack chair on our deck, or in the yard. I have my assistant Alexa play music for me, and my feline co-workers offer support by flanking me at my indoor post (sitting on each arm of the chair). My tip to you echoes Laura’s: Make sure the space you choose is comfortable for you, a factor that I believe promotes creativity. It certainly does for me.
Michelle McCulloch, Art Director
When I got the opportunity to work from home, I knew I had to make my office a creative spot. I chose a sunny area of the house and hung some inspiring images on the wall. The room also has a door, to help with concentration when the rest of the family is doing things that might distract me. My dogs have their own designated spots in my office, and they settle in whenever I sit down at my desk. It is a blessing to work from home, and being able to control my work environment is a bonus!
Jackie Loudin, Managing Editor
I love working from home! The flexibility it provides is great for the creative process. I do find, though, it is important to start every day by doing what I call “dressing for success from the waist up.” Because we often meet via video, I like to make sure my hair, makeup, and accessories are on point for impromptu Zoom or Google Video meetups. Of course, I still love my yoga pants and fuzzy slippers for off-camera comfort!
Michelle Smith, Marketing and Advertising Specialist
I am so thankful to be able to work from home. For me, having a dedicated workspace, with boundaries for other people in my home, is essential. Don’t even think about busting through my door if it’s closed! Knock gently if you must, but it better be important; if it can wait a little while, it needs to. The second thing that I have recently discovered about using Zoom or Google for meetings involves visual aids. I love that I can prepare a PowerPoint presentation and then share that presentation with those in my meeting, using the share my screen feature. I still can talk them through the presentation, but they see the visual. It’s a technological marvel, and a lifesaver!
Laura Latchford, Page Designer
Working from home allows you to be flexible in many areas, including your actual workspace. Take the opportunity to customize your workspace to fit your needs. I find sitting for many hours can be uncomfortable, so I chose an adjustable desk that can alternate between sitting and standing. The more comfortable you are, the more productive you will be.
Katie Beall, Title Editor, Around Acworth
As a mom of two little ones, the flexibility of working remotely helps me structure my hours around the needs of my household, within reason, of course. While my toddler usually attends day care, she has been home recently. My husband (who also is working from home now) and I have had to get creative. My best tip for those with littles is to capitalize on their sleep time. I try to get up before my 2-year-old wakes up in the morning, so I can answer emails and determine the tasks for the day. I usually save big projects for the afternoon, during nap time. We try to limit our daughter’s screen time, but, I admit, sometimes we let YouTube Kids entertain her while we take advantage of a few fleeting moments of stillness. Depending on the workload, sometimes I log a few hours after the toddler is in bed for the night. Like Candi, I enjoy utilizing various workspaces in my house. One of my favorite settings for video calls is the playroom. The natural light is great in the afternoons, and the wall color just makes me happy!