A quick guide to working from home

3 minute read

Written by: Lauren Wolfe -

As we all know by now, in an effort to reduce the number of personnel on campus Fred Hutch has required that all employees who are able begin working from home. Here are some general tips to creating a healthy work/life balance when working from home for an extended period of time!

Build a Routine

The first thing that felt exciting to me about working from home was the prospect of working from bed in my PJs all day. I quickly realized this is a blessing and a curse. Mostly a curse. I’ve gone back to my normal morning routine and change out of my PJ’s into my designated “work sweatpants”. Here are a few other tips:

  • Set work hours and break times for yourself!
  • It might be obvious but keep regular meals.
  • Figure out what cues help you get into ‘work mode’ and put you in a good mindset.
  • Schedule time to see a friend and get outside - I’ve found myself craving structure and have scheduled with a friend who is also working from home to meet twice a week to walk the dogs.
  • Remember that having a routine means setting an end point! When your work day is over put your work away and enjoy the rest of your day.

Designate a Workspace

Working from the couch wasn’t just hard on my motivation but actually became physically painful. Couch slouch is real! It’s been difficult but since I’ve put more focus on creating a clean, more ergonomic workspace my body and brain have felt much better.

  • Create a clean workspace that isn’t the couch or your bed.
  • Set the mood - Add some plants to your space, toss on a podcast or some white noise (I like mynoise.net) to reproduce the feeling of office chatter.
  • Once you have an established routine/working space feel free to be flexible. Work from the porch if it’s nice out for a bit. Take a walk between rain showers if you can!

Adjust How Your Team Communicates

How teams communicate with each other will have to adjust to this new normal. Virtual communication methods can feel clunky and distant. Luckily, we have a few tools available to make video conferencing, instant messaging, and file sharing a little easier. See the recent blog post on Microsoft Teams and other video conferencing tools.

  • Ensure that you and your teams are proactive in communicating the best way to get ahold of each other.
    • Consider setting up brief stand-up meetings to check in with your team daily and communicate progress/blockers on projects.
    • Remember you can schedule meetings as often as you see fit.
  • Update your notification settings as needed.
  • Make sure you are still getting unstructured chat time in!
    • Join virtual community group meetings via Teams.
    • Set aside 15 mins prior to meetings to catch up, etc.
  • It’s the little things that make communication more human.
    • Turn on your video during calls - face-to-face interaction is key even if it’s through a screen.
    • Have some fun - Wear silly hats! Meet each other’s pets!
  • If you don’t already - consider setting up a task manager to measure your progress. It’s important to celebrate the work you’ve accomplished and can provide a snapshot of what you’re working on to your team.
    • Notion and Trello are some good task management systems that offer limited use of their application for free.
  • Virtual meetings can feel kind of intimidating if you’re not used to them . Below are some video etiquette guidelines:
    • Mute your mic in big meetings.
    • Utilize the screen share feature as needed!
    • If you are leading a meeting be prepared to help guide conversation. Without physical social cues it can be hard to determine speaking order. Ensure that everyone is able to make their thoughts known. It can be as simple as ‘Let’s hear what Sarah has to say first and then we’ll hear from Jon’.
    • Give folks a few seconds to speak up with comments - it can take a moment to unmute yourself.
    • Don’t be afraid to speak up if there is a hiccup in reception or someone is not speaking loud enough.
    • Consider recording meetings as needed.

Take Care of Yourself

These next few months are going to be weird at best. Taking care of your mental health is super important!

  • As an employee at Fred Hutch, you have access to the Employee Assistance Program. Through EAP you can access therapists, self help tools, and healthy living advice via the web and phone. Check out your EAP benefits here.
  • Human Resources plans to add some more resources for stress management in April so keep an eye out!
  • Start a new hobby, follow an at home workout plan, check out some youtube yoga channels.