Working from Home; What they Didn’t Tell You and How You Can Boss it!

By: Matt Gainsford

Author

I remember the year, it was 2015. The Patriots had won their fourth Super Bowl. Parks and Rec had wrapped up it’s 7th season and if only I had put money on the Cubs to take the following year’s World Series, Back to the Future style, maybe I wouldn’t be writing this blog (although I probably still would because I love what I do). 2015 was the also the year that I struck employment gold, where I put the commute to bed and decided that pants were an optional extra; in 2015 I began to work from home.

  • Work from home, they said…
  • No more commuting, they said…
  • Enjoy work life balance, they said…
  • No more Donna taking your favorite coffee mug, they said…
  • Become your own IT Manager they said…
  • Bring your pets and children to work with you every day, they said…
  • Trade overhearing Kyle’s personal calls from his not so personal cube for the toddler inspired clatter of pots and pans…
  • Stay in the same pants for 6 days…
  • Start work at 4:30am…
  • Binge-watch your favorite shows while emailing the CEO…
  • Perfect your “I need the bathroom, but I don’t what you to see that I need the bathroom, while on Zoom face”.
  • Forget what day of the week it is…

Over the last 5 years I believe I have perfected the art of home-based productivity, or perhaps simply know enough to be dangerous. 2020 has taken the reward of working from home and transitioned it into a requirement. Remote work is no longer the incentive it once was as the world has had to adjust to a new approach, a new way of living, a new nor…(not going to say that).

Working from home is a wonderfully freeing and deeply empowering way to work and I remember thinking how my life would change with the extra flexibility offered, and the time I would get back outside of commuting (not to mention the money saved in mediocre lunches from Subway). That being said, there are aspects of the WFH (work from home) life that can turn into burn out fast.

Here are some top tips, and pitfalls to look out for that make working from home, work for you.

1. Your calendar is your best friend.

When the commute is a thing of the past, and when 9am drifts into 3pm and you haven’t moved from your desk it is easy to lose track of time, not take breaks and to get burned out pretty quickly.

Schedule your lunchbreaks, schedule water cooler moments, take time to give your eyes some screen rest, where possible set a defined start and end time for your day (your family and your brain will thank you).

2. Check in with your co-workers for non-work conversation.

Gone are the days of the break room chats, the desk-side interruption and the off the cuff conversations that humanize us in an office setting. It can get pretty lonely out there and by making that call to a colleague, sending a meme in the chat or using social media to keep the OTEoSFW (on the edge of safe for work) connections happening you’ll find you’re more engaged and better connected, trust me.

Sneaky side conversations in the Zoom direct chat are a high risk but high reward way to live. Just be careful not to tell the group that Angela’s latest haircut makes her look like Bill Wither’s grandpa, that would be an HR nightmare (and if they knew the truth about the fact that your camera isn’t broken it’s simply that you haven’t showered in six days).

3. Get dressed (at least by lunchtime).

Save your pajama days for those days you can really relax and step away. Help your mind and your body recognize the difference between work and rest. It’s easy, oh so easy, to roll out of bed and straight into the workday (even if you have kids, trust me), but being prepared and focused will help increase your productivity by at least 28%, and your ability to make stats up on the spot by an alarming 64%. Don’t be like my friend who was late for a meeting and didn’t have a shirt on, who had to dive to the floor because his camera turned on automatically and he couldn’t turn off in time; don’t be that guy, you’re better than that.

4. Perfect the art of pretending you are at the desk when you are really taking the call from the grocery store.

Why work from home if you can work anywhere (current pandemic considered)? If you can, why not work at your favorite coffee shop, take a couple of calls when grocery shopping, sit on the deck with a fancy cocktail? Take a 6-week road trip and make that national park Zoom background a reality. If your job affords you the flexibility to literally work from anywhere, then why not. If you’re a work from home air traffic controller then please, stay where you are.

5. If you have an office to go to, use it.

What do you mean, go back into the office? One of my personal highlights of the week is Wednesdays in person with my team. I could stay home and do our L10 meeting (L10 is EOS speak for weekly team meeting) virtually, but I couldn’t do a virtual lunch with my teammates very well. There is something about fostering the team environment, seeing people face to face, not face to screen. The flow of conversation, the sharing of ideas, the stories, connection points and genuine eye contact is invaluable, and it’s just for one day a week.


If you’d love to hear more work from home (horror) stories, you’re thinking about maximizing your team’s engagement, productivity and connectedness, or if you have great ideas, we’d love to connect. Titus has been a remote company for over ten years, and we’ve been working with companies to optimize our client’s greatest asset, their people. From pioneering a new design in partner focused talent acquisition strategy through to developing a highly successful coaching and managing for performance platform, we’ve been busy helping companies achieve definable success.

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