VENTEUR spoke with Helen Peterson, a work-from-home mom who has established herself as an online virtual assistant and virtual assistant educator, about working from home. Along with helping her clients with launch strategy and successfully creating and selling their online courses, Peterson coaches other women on starting their own virtual assistant businesses.

Helen Peterson / Photo courtesy of Helen Peterson

How vital are comfort and quiet when working from home, and why is this the case?

I have been diving further into my Human Design. I have found that I am a "Caves Environment," – meaning a small, cozy space is ideal for me to feel safe and productive! Understanding yourself and how you work to meet your needs best can be helpful. I highly recommend analyzing yourself and taking stock of how you need to be productive. 

So many distractions can cause us to turn our attention elsewhere, so having an uninterrupted space to focus is essential, primarily when you work from home. This may mean setting your phone to do not disturb, playing music, using headphones, or moving to a work location in the house. This is a physical way to create that work-life boundary.

What are three out-of-the-box tips you can share to help our readers working from home create a space that works for them, and why these three?

1. Keeping Things Simple

A few decorations can be lovely, but clutter is overwhelming! Let your brain be able to think clearly but feel comfortable and inspired. 

2. Use Essential Oils

I love lavender! Mix an essential oil or a combination of essential oils with water to wipe down your desk, chair, shelves, and other things around your office space. It clears the dust, makes it smell amazing, and enhances relaxation!

3. Keeping Your Environment Well-Lit

Have soft lights or a window near your workspace. Concentrating and staying motivated is difficult if it's too dark or you are not in touch with what time of day it is. 

Helen Peterson / Photo courtesy of Helen Peterson

How can people working from home avoid meeting fatigue, and does this change from the employee to the executive level?

Fatigue can hit either an executive or an employee and can be avoided in the following ways:

Requesting Help

Requesting help with work or household tasks that take your time away from work is essential. This gives you the physical and mental space for work, creativity, and rest. 

Prioritizing Tasks

Prioritizing tasks and asking, how will this task get me to my end goal? As an executive, if you waste time on little things other people can do, they’re not a good use of your time. The primary focus of executives should be on the big picture and something that will move the needle in their business. This may mean that you hire someone to do your social media, inbox, invoicing, etc., so that you can focus on the big picture. 

Question What Must Be Done

As an employee, I maintain boundaries and often question whether I must complete this task today. We often think something is "urgent" when it’s not. Just because you get a request at 5 PM doesn't mean you must complete it that day. Have clear boundaries with your employer and make sure expectations are within the lifestyle you want to be living.

How can business leaders ensure that productivity remains high while working from home and operating under a decentralized working model? Why might these strategies work best?

Have check-ins with your team leader

Use a project management system like Asana or ClickUp to delegate tasks and allow independence in completing them. Many people love the freedom that comes with a decentralized working model and end up being even more productive than when they feel micromanaged. As long as there are clear goals and deadlines, these models have many opportunities for success.

How can business leaders ensure that productivity remains high while working from home and conducting all interactions online?

In the past few years, many professionals have realized that the work-from-home lifestyle has increased, so many meetings, multiple check-ins, and calls aren't always necessary. 

We don't need to hear the same thing multiple times to be productive or complete a task. Having one 1-hour meeting online during the day can be very efficient versus having multiple check-ins or in-person sessions in an office. We seem to get to the point quicker via a virtual meeting versus the downtime that can occur with in-person meetings. 

Helen Peterson / Photo courtesy of Helen Peterson

How can businesses adequately protect sensitive information while employees work from home, and why might these ways not work?

Password Managers

This helps ensure that passwords are protected and that only those that are supposed to access them are safe.

Password-Protected Documents

This keeps all documents protected and only available to the eyes that need to see them. 

SHARE settings

This protects them from being opened in the wrong accounts or the wrong person seeing these items.

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