7 rules you need to impose with colleagues if you work from home

Many of us are working at home right now. For me, it’s not an adjustment at all. I’ve been working remotely for over 18 years. I’ve learned a few tricks to make my day much smoother
and to help others know how to communicate with me. Here are my best tips.

1. No company contacts after 5 pm

Picking a time when people should not contact you is key. Make it a hard stop. If they call you or email you, ignore it — you have made it clear you are done working at a specific time. This is important because work and home life will start to blend together. I tend to stop every day at 5 pm because I’ve completed enough for the day. (I also take an hour lunch.)

2. Pick one form of digital communication and stick with it

You will find that you’re inundated with text messages, emails — people might start using crazy apps like Zello Marco Polo where you record a message and send. Fine if that means you can
over-communicate, but it can be an unrelenting firehose. I recommend picking one primary form of communication like Slack as the “official” method. This is where everyone should respond and communicate, even if they choose to use a few of their own methods on the side.

3. No phone calls in the early morning hours

Early morning hours are precious. It’s when you will have the most focus and you will find things are quiet. Protect that time. Let everyone know you do not take any calls before 10 a.m. no matter what — that your phone will be off or on silent.

4. Pick a single video chat app

Every worker has a preference when it comes to video chat apps. Some of us like Zoom and others prefer Skype. Similar to a collaborative or messaging app, you have to pick one and always use it for official company business. It might seem obvious — after all, not everyone has an iPhone and can do a FaceTime — but you will find it streamlines video calls.

5. Think wisely about what you say on Slack

Just because you can say something on the collaborative platform Slack doesn’t mean you should. I tend to impose rules about saying too much and prefer if colleagues keep it short and simple. For those who know the tool, make a special push to avoid posting much of anything in the General channel. Save it for emergencies and really urgent stuff.

6. Keep it professional

Even though you are at home, you are still at work. It might be tempting to show people you are wearing slippers or to introduce the family dog, and those things reveal you are a real person
with a life. However, I recommend not doing it. The reason is that your work and home life will tend to mesh together and you might not find a good balance between them.

7. Ask for accountability and don’t make it optional

We’re all isolated. What we really need as remote workers are accountability. Pick someone you trust and ask them to check in on you. When you start to struggle with being isolated or you lag behind on work, ping that person and ask for some encouragement and motivation. Also, be the person who provides that to others. We are all stressed right now.

*Disclosure: Ladders from time-to-time uses affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, we will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase.