Our community is seeing a lot of changes following the recommendations of social distancing and guidance from local, state and federal government, and your employer may be transitioning you to work-from-home as a result. Don’t worry, the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce is doing the same! It took a few days to adjust to our new office normal, but we made it work. Now we want to share our first-hand experiences with you to help make the transition to remote work as smooth as possible. Check out our recommendations below.

Familiarize yourself with your remote working tools and their capabilities.

No matter the system that your team utilizes when transitioning to remote work, take some time to learn all of the features and capabilities of the system you’re using, and use them! Also know the capabilities of your own equipment. If your desktop doesn’t have a camera and a microphone, a video conference may not be the best option for you. Switch to a teleconference instead. Knowing exactly how to complete a task in your project management software, send IMs or set meetings will save you – and your coworkers – a lot of trouble in the long-run.

Be prepared at the start of each workday.

“I’m realizing that I left a lot of files at the office so I’m having to change my work structure from “get it done, and get it done now” to “I guess this has to wait.” Hillary Robinson, Office Manager

Understanding what you need to get done, how you’re going to do it and in what time frame is very important to completing tasks in a remote work setting. Starting each day with a specific and realistic to-do list can help alleviate some frustration and leave you feeling accomplished, not overwhelmed. Organization will be key to knowing where you left off and where you’re going the next day. When making your own schedule, be sure to understand what you can and can’t get done, communicate that to your employer and get to work.

Minimize distractions.

“For me it’s outside distractions. Not just television, but traffic noises and our maintenance people…mowing. I’m more focused in the office.” David Leezer, Vice President of Business Attraction

“…It is always…internal distractions when working from home.  Whether it be my kiddos wanting my attention, assisting my wife with tasks or even the dog needing to go out, for those reasons I find it necessary to go to the office and focus.” Travis Haggard, Vice President of Business Retention & Expansion

“Internal distractions are…a struggle, being at home I keep thinking about what I could be doing…versus working on documents.” Hillary Robinson, Office Manager

We know that the challenges you’ll face at your home will be vastly different than those at the office in a work-from-setting, especially when you’re also a primary care provider and school closures mean your kids are home, too. First, identify what distractions exist. For me, it’s two dogs, a baby, TV, household chores, and social media. There’s no way to eliminate all distractions from your home, so focus on one or two and put the rest away. If you have to step away briefly to let the dogs outside or give the baby a bottle, that’s fine, but be sure to turn off time-wasters like Grey’s Anatomy or Facebook. Lastly, if your distraction is noise-based, try playing white noise using apps like Spotify, Apple Music or YouTube.

Define your workspace.

“I would say define an actual workspace that isn’t your bed. It’s easier for me because we have an office, so it’s like I’m going to work in comfy clothes.” Rebecca Churchwell, Member Relations Specialist

Knowing exactly where you’re working in your home and having an established workspace with easy access to important files, power outlets (to charge laptops and devices) and your notebook can have a positive impact on the work that you’re completing. It can be a challenge finding the space, so even a kitchen table can be a great command center for your work. Additionally, making sure you have everything you need can also eliminate distractions. Having slow, unreliable internet and an uncomfortable chair to sit in can hinder productivity and focus. Try to take care of this before you get to work.

Be accessible and prompt.

Set your IM status to available, keep your email application open and turn the volume up on your phone. The majority of your communication in a remote working setting will use technology. If you’re inaccessible during your working hours, it can greatly hinder you and your team from getting work completed in a timely manner. Also, be sure to respond to communications promptly, even if it’s to say, “we’re checking on it and will get back to you soon.” This is a great opportunity to put customers first and focus on the service you’re providing.

Keep your schedule/calendar up-to-date.

Letting your employer and your team know when you’re available and when you’re not can prevent miscommunications, especially if someone may be trying to schedule a time to e-meet you. Check your calendar every morning and adjust as needed.

Know when to walk away.

“For me, it’s been turning the computer off. I find I’m having trouble walking away and shutting it down for the day or breaks.” Katie Britt, Director of Marketing

When your home is your office, every minute can feel like the workday. When practicing self-care, it’s important to give yourself breaks and know when to unplug altogether. If you’re having trouble with stepping away, try to schedule specific times during the day to give yourself a break, stretch your legs, relax your eyes and step away from the computer. If you’re having trouble ending your workday, try logging off of everything, shutting down your computer and putting work materials away at the end of each day. This can help you achieve work-life balance at a time where work and life are combined.

The Wichita Falls Chamber has launched Falls Strong, a webpage that lists resources for our community specific to COVID-19. If you’re doing something unique to help your team or others get through this situation, we’d love to share your story.

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