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The Reality of Working from Home

Working remotely sounds fantastic! The flexibility, the freedom, the need to only be appropriately dressed from the waist up! While the perk of half of your attire being comprised of sweatpants is a great one, the flip side is that working from home presents unusual challenges.


How do you keep your team involved? How do you assess their productivity? What resources do you provide so that everyone has what they need to be successful? What are the expectations for a professional work environment when you may have housemates in the same space? Every situation is as unique as the person experiencing it, but the tips below will ensure that you and your team are connected, effective, and balanced.


Working where you live

Engage with your team – When each person is interacting through a computer, the sense of a “team” can feel distant. To allow room for relationship-building, consider the following:

  • Be accessible. Whatever your organization’s chat function is, be present and communicate often. If a team member asks a question or makes a request, respond quickly and clearly. Be aware that tone may get lost in a written message, so call or use voice functions when necessary

  • Turn video on. When having a one-to-one or a meeting, ask your employees to use their cameras. Doing so allows you to see non-verbal cues such as body language and facial expression. Be sure to set clear expectations for appropriate dress and décor. (I literally once had a trainee with a "F*** Kayne West" t-shirt!)

  • Have fun. Not every meeting or conversation or interaction has to be super serious. It’s okay celebrate birthdays and holidays or to share moments of the unexpected when working from home


Hold virtual meetings – Perhaps the most difficult part of virtual meetings is granting the opportunity for each person to contribute. Again, cameras can be very helpful. Ask each person to have theirs on and watch for visual responses. Communicate standards for background noise and utilize the ‘mute’ function when necessary. Encourage involvement by calling on people by name, asking questions, and giving everyone a chance to share their thoughts, opinions, or concerns. In this way, a virtual meeting isn’t much different from an in-person one; however, as the Leader, you must be aware of the attendees’ participation and input.

Take accountability – Even though you work from home, this is your job. Treat it as such. Use your calendar, schedule specific break and meal-times, set reminders or alarms to hold you to your responsibilities, and stick to the outline of your day. Be transparent and communicate with your team if you need to step away (coffee, restroom, food), and require them to do the same.


Living where you work

Have a designated space – Though you are working from home, you need a determined, professional workspace. If possible, your desk/table/chair should be in a quiet area, separate from the rest of the house.

Communicate your work hours – Whether you have a spouse, children, roommates, or friends/family that like to randomly stop by, be sure that everyone knows between x time and y time, you are at work. Age-appropriately, encourage them to manage themselves and let them know timeframes through the day that you may be available. Just like with your employees, set guidelines for when you may and may not be interrupted.

Expect the unexpected – Whatever happens at home when you’re home will also happen when you’re at work when you’re home. Your dog will eat something she’s not supposed to. A delivery person will knock on the door. The fire alarm battery will die and start to beep in the middle of a meeting. Be flexible, show some compassion, and communicate your needs clearly.


Working remotely can be both freeing and functional if you hold yourself and your team to certain standards. Should you be folding laundry in the middle of a meeting? Probably not. Should you have a talk with your spouse about what you can and can’t commit to during the workday? Probably so. Can you balance home and work and be great at both? Absolutely. You got this.

cat sleeping on a desk


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