Top Tips for Working From Home from Agile Coach John Westgarth

Working from home for the first time? Our in-house Agile Coach has a few tips to help you adapt.
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Top 'Working From Home' Tips from Food Agility's Agile Coach John Westgarth

Adjusting to working from home (along with the myriad of other changes necessary to protect our community from COVID 19) is no mean feat. Technology offers those of us who can work virtually an invaluable lifeline, but there are still challenges to overcome. Our in-house Agile Coach, John, works with Food Agility project teams to help them collaborate, communicate, and deliver complex projects - often while working on opposite sides of the state (or continent), and in completely different industries. He knows how to get a team to work together apart effectively.

Here are John's top tips for adapting to working from home:

Prioritise High Priority Deliverables:

It’s tempting to get bogged down in the long list of small, low priority tasks on your To Do List. Identify the most valuable thing you could do today - and do it. Focusing on your most valuable deliverable will give you a sense of achievement, help you maintain momentum, and develop your prioritisation skills.

Make a list and put a mark next to the most iimportant item. "This helps me set my High Priority Deliverable in Advance". [Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash]

Make a List for Tomorrow:

At the end of each day I write a list of everything I could possibly do tomorrow. Then I put a mark next to the one item I think will be most significant. This helps me sleep easy, set my High Priority Deliverables in advance, and gives me a sense of clarity and purpose.

Stuck in a Rut? Make Sure Your Habits Aren’t the Problem:

Try this simple exercise to help you identify when a work rut is self-inflicted: Take a piece of paper, draw a line down the middle. On one side, write a list of behaviours that impress you professionally (e.g. Being on time, communicating effectively). On the other side, write a list of poor workplace behaviours. Pin it to your wall. When you’re on a roll, take a moment to identify the behaviours that helped you onto that winning streak. When you’re finding it difficult to progress, check that you haven’t fallen into any of the bad habits on your list.

Be Flexible:

‘Workplace flexibility’ doesn’t just mean that companies should allow flexible hours or working arrangements. It means YOU need to be be flexible with YOURSELF. Give yourself permission to adapt your routine to your new circumstances.

Food Agility's 'Formal Friday' morning stand up. Almost as good as Outdoor Wednesdays and Bring Your Pet To Stand Up Tuesdays. "Now is the time to over-communicate," says John. "We've instituted a 45-minute time limit for all-in meetings. We've also created blocks of meeting-free time in everyone's calendars."

Communicate:

Increased communication will save people time. Now that we’re all communicating electronically, more 5 to 10-minute conversations is better than bulking things into 1 hour blocks.

Many parents are juggling work with home-schooling their children for the first time. John knows how that feels, and says it's important to "give yourself permission to adapt to your new circumstances." [Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash]

Time Is Precious. Block It Out:

At Food Agility, we’ve instituted a 45-minute time limit for all-in meetings. We’ve also created blocks of meeting-free time in everyone’s calendars, and asked staff to block out personal time for family or individual needs like kids’ mealtimes and naps, childcare and school pick up, homework time, and play time.

Find Time for Your Rituals:

I don’t know about you but working from home has not meant I have extra time up my sleeve. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. In the Before Times, my daily ritual was to read a business book on the bus to work and a novel on the way home. While I no longer have a commute, the value of reading for professional development and personal pleasure remains, so I’ve scheduled two 30-minute reading slots into my day. Whether your ritual is physical, mental, or social, making the effort to find small bites of time to keep it up will not only make you happier, it will give you a sense of control.

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