The Art of Working From Home

Successfully working from home is more than just setting aside a place, creating “office hours” or putting on regular clothes to get you in the mood. The Cornerstone team is happy to share some methods and mindsets to keep you on track and maximize your work day.

1. How to change from one task to another task mid-stream on a daily basis – this is difficult even when you are in a office setting! Here are a few tips:

– Mark down where you left off before moving onto the next task.
– Jot down any ideas you have for where you were headed when you left off.
– Communicate with anybody who needs to know about any delay in completing the task.

2. What to do if you can’t catch someone else on the phone

– Be patient – this is the best advice we can give. Don’t make any assumptions about why they have not responded. Everyone is busy.
– Follow up with an email. If you don’t want to put everything in the email that’s OK, just say that you want to meet with them to discuss more.
– If you really need to meet and haven’t heard, you can try to schedule a meeting and send them an invitation with a short explanation. Sometimes that will bring a quick response.

3. How to deal with projects that are suddenly abandoned

– Find out if there are outstanding items that need to be wrapped up.
– Let it go – unless you are a stakeholder, it is far better use of your time to try to assist with the next project.
– If you are a stakeholder, try to schedule or be part of a post-mortem discussion.
– If you think there is still value in a piece of the project, make your pitch to continue on with just that part or pitch a different project.

4. How to be strategic about scheduling your day

– Schedule an hour each morning just to catch up on email and communicate with people who are waiting to hear from you.
– Move tasks to a different folder or add new tasks to a list you are keeping so that you have one place that captures all your “To-Do’s.”
– Make a list of the things you want to work on today. Don’t include number of hours or say that you will finish any task, as your plans could get disrupted at any point.
– If you have any tasks that you did not complete that are high priority, make a note of this so that you can start on those tasks first tomorrow (after your catch up hour where you communicate that to your stakeholders).

5. How to be strategic about adding value and getting additional work

– Each morning, review your To-Do list and think about where your stakeholders are going or want to be with each project.
– If you see something that you think will add value to your task that will take negligible time to complete, or takes a little bit of time but will delight your stakeholders, add it to your To-Do list.
– If your value add will also add significant hours, pitch the idea to the stakeholders first. Say, “I think this could bring you tremendous value and this is why” and wait for an answer before you proceed.
– Don’t invest emotionally in projects or tasks. If you feel strongly about the benefits, list them out for stakeholders and quantify them wherever possible. Cold facts are going to beat passionate feelings any day.

6. Communication

– Don’t shy away from communicating news that someone else does not want to hear. Start by drafting an email in Word or Notepad. Take your time to massage your draft until it conveys the tone and message that you want to send without being offensive to anyone.
– Decide whether the message is better conveyed on a call or face to face (if you have that option). If it is, you have your script ready from your draft email. If you cannot reach the person(s) in your chosen method, send the email explaining that and ask to meet for further discussion.
– Communicate daily if you have not set up a date to give your next status update. If you don’t need to give daily updates, set up a date to give your next status update…and stick to it.
– If you encounter an issue, include that in your status update. It may have a bigger impact than you realize.

7. When to meet facetime to facetime (or similar)

– When you haven’t touched base with your stakeholders for a while, especially if things aren’t going well. You can convey emotions and show concern much better than with email.
– When you are trying to salvage a project or need to convey more bad news.
– Anytime you have been conversing via email and relationships have not been improving.
– Kickoff meetings and/or when you are getting to know a team for a project.
– You would like more work with the stakeholder in the near future, or you are pitching an idea for another project. A personal touch is a good idea in this situation.

Have more questions? Ask Joe!