Working from home during COVID19: what do I work on?

working from home, older worker

Our workplace landscape is in a period of unprecedented fluidity. It is extraordinary to contemplate that working from home is about to be the new normal, at least until the rapid spread of COVID-19 is contained. This new normal brings with it enormous opportunity: not only to maximise your productivity, create new products, and experiment with the non-commute but also to focus on those tasks which typically lie dormant on your to-do list…you know, the ones you never seem to have time for?

Six perfect tasks to do from home:

1. Process development

Are you the font of all knowledge in your team? Work from home to get all of that information out of your head and onto paper. Removing yourself as the one reference point for how key processes flow will save you a lot of time in the future.

Here’s how:

  • Identify tasks that are both key and repeatable – for example: customer service; invoicing; complaints management; decision making.
  • Document how each process flows.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Educate your team on each process.
  • Don’t set and forget – review your processes every six months and engage with your team to identify additional efficiencies.

2. Password management

How many passwords do you have? Odds on it’s 20-plus. And in a data rich, privacy sensitive, high-risk-of-being-hacked world, you want to make sure that each of your passwords is unique and hard to crack.

Do not waste your time trying to remember all these different passwords – free up space in your brain and also make for a more productive day by implementing a password management tool.

Your device may already have built-in password management, or there are many options available online for little or no cost. You will no longer have to worry about remembering all your passwords, and many of these tools will also sync your passwords across all of your devices.

3. Decision making

How do you currently make complex work decisions? Use your time at home to think this through.

While it is important to acknowledge and trust your gut, for more complex or important decisions, gut-based decisions are not enough. While your instinct may be pointing you in a certain direction, your gut is acting on muscle memory – reverting to a more emotional and subconsciously biased way of making decisions. Ultimately it ‘feels right’ because your brain remembers that this is the way you have dealt with a particular choice in the past.

With time on your hands, document a repeatable complex decision-making process including answering questions such as:

  • What type of options will I evaluate?
  • What criteria will I assess each option against?
  • What data will I rely on?
  • Who will I consult with?

You can save an enormous amount of time, and angst, by having a written decision-making process that you can revert to each time you are faced with a more complex decision.

4. Business protocols

Use this time to establish a suite of business/ office protocols that set the tone for how you want to invest your time – and the behaviours and culture you want to foster – in your team once you all return to the office.

Build these protocols around the business practices, habits and behaviours that will power up productivity. For example, consider:

Meeting management: who can call a meeting; how often do you need to meet; what do you need to meet about; how long will your meetings generally be; who needs to be invited to meetings? (Note: employees in big business spend up to two days a week in needless meetings, 80% of which occur within single departments – don’t allow this.)
Email management: when will you deal with emails; how long will you spend on emails; if you have a team, is this the best way to communicate? (Note: employees in big business spend 16 hours per week reading and responding to emails – don’t allow this.)

5. Network

Use your time at home to re-connect with your network. Make a list of everyone you typically have trouble finding time to catch up with and reach out to them.

6. Online learning

Your immediate access to L&D might not currently be available to you. If so, now is the perfect time to curate your L&D opportunities yourself. Engage a coach (online) or invest in online learning. Your business or career will only continue to excel if you continue to grow and to innovate.

Kate Christie, Founder and CEO, Time Stylers and author of “Me First: The Guilt-Free Guide to Prioritising You”