VENTEUR spoke with Kathryn Boudreau, a remote project and operations manager for CallerSmart, about working from home. CallerSmart enables users to identify unknown phone numbers and avoid scam calls. Boudreau has worked remotely for the last seven years. She is an expert in optimizing productivity while working from a home office. 

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

It’s incredibly important to build a dedicated workspace in your home. Even in a small apartment, dedicate a corner to set up an optimized workspace. 

I’ve found that working from my kitchen table or couch is counterproductive. 

Instead, you want your workspace to be organized and divided from your living space. 

If you’re working from home, invest in an adjustable, comfortable chair that provides support. 

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. Create a Division Between Your Living Space and Your Workspace

If you don’t have an extra room, hang curtains or purchase a portable room divider that you can use to create a different work environment. 

2. Play Some Elevator Music

No, it doesn’t need to be elevator music, but putting on some lyricless music in a genre you enjoy can improve your mood and focus. 

3. Get Out of the House

Whether you leave the house to grab a coffee, go to the gym, or have lunch at a park, it’s essential to change your environment and get out of the house for at least 30 minutes during your work day. 

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

When working remotely, it’s always important to set a meeting schedule for what needs to be discussed. Those in a remote work setting don’t have the luxury of walking over to a manager’s desk to ask a quick question. Hence, the best policy is to note down any questions and make them part of your meeting notes. 

In addition, every scheduled meeting should have someone create the meeting agenda. This keeps meetings streamlined and productive and ensures everyone is prepared and on the same page when the meeting starts. 

Executives should focus more on involving themselves in high-level overview meetings rather than the day-to-day. These meetings should similarly have a plan and should focus on strategy.

How can business leaders ensure that productivity remains high while working from home and operating under a decentralized working model? 

Documented processes and good project management software ensure that remote teams stay productive. 

Writing your day-to-day processes keeps details from being forgotten or neglected. 

Project management software allows you to document the status of ongoing projects, get key stakeholder input, and get team member updates. 

Kathryn Boudreau / Photo courtesy of Kathryn Boudreau

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

Business leaders need to have their teams report on key performance indicators (KPIs) regularly. 

KPIs should be shared weekly and monthly with team members to evaluate performance and allow them to see how their day-to-day work is impacting the bigger picture success of the company. 

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

Use a VPN

There are many things that businesses can do to protect sensitive information adequately. The first step is to invest in a good, premium VPN. In addition, when working on public wifi, a VPN should always be used.

Use Encrypted Cloud Software

The next way is to use encrypted cloud software. For example, encrypted Dropbox files are a great way to share sensitive files with your remote teams.

Use a Password Manager

Other steps that can be taken are to use a password manager. For example, LastPass allows you to create secure passwords and share them with others. 

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Setting up two-factor authentication (2FA) also provides an extra layer of security. 

How can leaders adapt their organizational culture and employee engagement with a hybrid or work-from-home environment?

A culture of mutual respect and sharing knowledge isn’t hard to carry over from the office to the remote office. 

I’ve found that remote offices tend to be flatter in the hierarchy, but leaders must set clear expectations for team members. Having clearly defined expectations ensures accountability and minimizes the possibility of failure. 

In addition, communication is crucial to the success of remote and hybrid teams. 

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Even though you might not be heading into the office anymore, it’s still essential to create a daily routine made up of healthy decisions and try to adhere to them. Morning routines are crucial for prolonged productivity in the morning and afternoon. In the evening, you should similarly adopt a practice of silencing work notifications to create a work-life division. 

Suggest a topic or question not asked above or a more thought-provoking variant of what is asked above. If used, you will be credited as a topic provider in the published version of the article any time your suggestion is used. 

The idea of presenteeism, or the idea of being at work but not being at work. This is a growing phenomenon with remote workers. Sometimes a remote worker will be there but not focused on the job. So it’s essential to look at why presenteeism is happening if it is. 

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