In the state of the world today during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, and with many locations enforcing stay at home advisories or shelter in place protocols, a majority of people are shifting to remote work.
For those that aren’t used to working from home, this can be challenging. From the beginning, Anthem has purposely been designed to operate without the need to rely on the daily office environment. Nearly every member of The Anthem team has the ability to work remotely.
We are primarily a project-based company that is intended to allow our family of team members to determine when and where they work based on what best increases their productivity. During the current situation, we are motivated to share our advice and best practices on how to work from home to help everyone maintain their workflow and stay productive during these times of adversity.
With over 14 years of experience working remotely, Anthem’s Managing Partner, Ashley Mercurio shares her best tips:
- I try my best to designate an area of my house to work in which allows me to be the most productive. Since I don’t have a home office, this area is generally in my dining room. I have a great work surface and environment which provides me ample room for my laptop and any paperwork. This allows me to focus on my task at hand and not become easily distracted by the television or even simply the comfort of my couch. I can stray from this location at times as I am someone who can be productive with a little background noise such as music or the news on television. However, I find that I work best when I can shut down any potential distractions. Conversely, some of my colleagues have a dedicated home office. The end result and output are the same. Since some people do not need the full office or are unable to establish one, the key is to dedicate any suitable space that fits your style and needs. I like to stress to people that they do not need the “perfect” set up. If you’re truly locked in and productive, those bells and whistles won’t matter. Simply have a quality space that enables you to focus and have the resources you need nearby.
- Sometimes distractions can be unavoidable, given the environment of working remotely. For example, I have two dogs and now a new baby girl that has certainly required some adjusting to my day-to-day. If I have a phone call to be on, I will put the dogs outside or go in a separate room where I know the person on the other line will not hear them. Fortunately, I usually can schedule the call around my daughter’s nap time or during days that I have support from my parents, husband and others that can watch her.
- When working remotely, it can be very difficult at times to turn off your “work brain.” It is very easy to get caught up in emails and continue to check your phone late into the evening. Sometimes this is necessary and I am grateful to have full communication ability from home. However, there does need to be a work/life balance. If I don’t have scheduled meetings, events, or a big deadline coming up, then it is just a regular day for me. I make a concerted effort to close my laptop – so I can enjoy dinner with my family, catch up with my friends etc. It is always easier to do a quick email sweep later at night after pausing to enjoy time with family.
- One of the best aspects of remote work is flexibility. This concept is something that can be tricky for people at first. On the surface everyone craves flexibility. The key is to know how and when to utilize it best. If I know I have a late night of work ahead of me, given sometimes it’s unavoidable, I try to break up my day. I like to get outside for an hour or so to either go work out or run errands. It is acceptable and encouraged in our company culture because I know I’ll be getting through everything I need to later that day. This allows me to still get everything done that I need to for work, but not neglect the things I need to do for myself and my family – plus I do not need to cram all of my personal errands into a two-hour window in the evening.
Overall, the current scenario with social distancing is important to remember. However, people can still pause during the day to workout at home, get some quick sunshine, and of course everyone needs to remember to eat too. Remote work leads to massive productivity once one gets the hang of it. Just remember that you will be more efficient, which coupled with flexibility, should not only increase your output but make your days more balanced too.
By Ashley Mercurio
Managing Partner, The Anthem Group