Expert Tips From A Work From Home Veteran

An interview with Chris Beiting, Content Manager, Digital Product at Solution Tree

How long have you worked from home?

I have worked from home off and on ever since 2009. But full-time since the spring of 2014.

What is your general routine?

A routine is important. In order to get into the work mindset, I have to get up, get showered, and get dressed for work. Now, I don’t mean wear business casual or a suit. But I need to at least not work unshowered and in my pajamas.

I start my workday typically around 8/8:30am. I will typically take a quick break around 9:30/10 to let the dogs out and grab coffee or water. I then break for lunch and then have another break around 2:30.

It’s important I end the day at 5 pm. It’s easy to get into the mode where you’re always working. And it’s even more important to have that division when working from home. So I do my best to stop at 5 and not work evenings or weekends — unless there’s a deadline or things need addressed that can’t wait.

How do you ensure you do not get distracted by things to do around the house?

The trick for that is to have a dedicated work area. I’m fortunate enough that I’ve usually been able to have a dedicated room in my house to set up a home office – but even if you don’t, it’s important to set up space. Don’t work from your bed. It’s setting you up for failure.

Now, that being said…I’d be lying if I didn’t toss a load of laundry in during one of my quick breaks. You’re home and laundry will never die. Might as well multitask a little.

What is your set up like? (Technology etc)

I’m a video producer and product manager for an education company. So I have a wide variety of computers — both Mac and Windows. I always at least run two machines at once, connected by a virtual keyboard/mouse switch. That way I can share work between the machines and use two displays. Since I’m editing video, I always need the most power. The less time I take rendering a video, the more time I can spend finishing projects or balancing my work/life.

I also get a lot of emails answered on my iPhone and iPad. While I typically don’t work at night, I will usually at least answer an email back when I get it. People might disagree with that mentality, but it’s always worked for me.

How has having your daughter at home changed your routine?

My daughter has never known her dad to not work from home. When she’s been sick or just off from school most of the time she will be here with me. In the summer, she is usually at daycare. With the recent events, it is looking like she is going to be here with me during the day for the foreseeable future.

Thankfully she’s 8, so there is some self-sufficiency that happens. But I need to be mindful so she’s keeping up on the tasks that her school has given her. It usually results in me taking more frequent breaks to follow up with her. She also isn’t afraid to come into the office. I usually always give her a heads up if I have a video call or meeting, so if there’s a need while that is happening she’s allowed to send me a message through iMessage on her iPad.

What does remote learning look like for her?

Since this kind of caught a lot of schools off guard, they’ve had to more or less adapt on the fly. Thankfully her school is a one-to-one school with Chromebooks, so all the students from K-12 have had exposure to learning with technology.

While the students under 4th grade aren’t allowed to take their Chromebooks home, the school did give us all the login information so if we wanted, or had the ability to we could log in from home.

Thankfully a few years ago I bought a Chromebook, and it’s been sitting around collecting dust. This week I updated it…added her login info, and she’s been completing her tasks. Her teacher is pretty tech-savvy, so she’s been engaging with the students through video.

I believe my daughter is more skilled at Google Apps than me.

How does she like being at home with dad?

With the social distancing, she’s been bored. She understands that I am busy, and I have a lot going on — but I am making time to make sure she’s engaged. I like her being here. Kids grow up so fast and before you know it, they don’t want to hang out with you. I’ve been extremely fortunate that I’ve been able to participate in her daily school life since the beginning.

This is just another version of that. We’re making the best out of a weird time in history.

What tips do you have for people that are new to working from home?

– Create a specific workspace. If you have an extra room, use it. If not use your kitchen table, but have a consistent spot where your daily work will be completed.

– Get dressed and ready for work. It sounds nuts, but trust me it mentally prepares you for it.

– If you have a dog/cat have them in your workspace with you. It helps and gives you something to talk to. You get lonely quickly.

– Video call with your co-workers if possible. Using Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger. There’s no excuse to not use it. It helps you stay connected. Again, don’t like the loneliness set in.

– Create a daily to-do list. It will let you collect your thoughts, and keep you focused and on task throughout the day. Since you’re at home it’s easy to get distracted. Working on a to-do list keeps you on track.

– Listen to music. I personally like ambient music while working. Lyrics are distracting, so just having music is nice. And you don’t need to wear headphones…another bonus.

Looking at this list of 24 strengths what strengths do you think will help you had Ruthie through this new reality?

– Love, Humor, Perseverance, Forgiveness, Home, and Perspective. It’s easy to get down with what’s happening in the news. Hours seem like days with all the doom and gloom. Don’t let your fears and worries redirect on your children. They can know you have worries, but it is up to you to let them know that no matter what happens, you’re a team and you will get through this together.