Lessons from my 18 months of WFH, checklist

Back in 2015, I was reading the book Remote, office not required by Basecamp and it felt like a distant dream to work from home (WFH) even though I worked in the tech industry as an independent contributor. Due to the pandemic, almost overnight the IT employees became accidental WFH professionals. It was a good choice because the infrastructure inside and outside the office was built around the concept of Social distancing. Back to the topic, I have tweaked and adapted to my WFH lifestyle, I have enough maturity to establish the process at the new location. Download my checklist for WFH in 2021.

Checklist of WFH setup

Download 2021 Work From Home (WFH) Checklist

Room

  • Room is dedicated to work
  • Room is isolated from the living room or TV, especially the Indian kitchens which are noisy and keep producing aromas
  • Room has a bolt from inside. You can lock yourself up while working
  • Room has enough water storage and light beverage, so you can work for 4 hours undisturbed
  • Room has a small washroom attached, so you do not have to go outside the work area
  • Room has a decent setup with ergonomics for you to work
  • Room has Uninterrupted power supply
  • Room has good wifi connectivity, at least 10Mbps
  • Room does not have TV or any addictive entertainment which turns on with a click of a button

Family

  • Family is aware of your work timing
  • Family has committed not to disturb you at work, sometimes eavesdropping is all it takes to tank a full workday
  • No events or functions planned during office hours
  • No child or pet will be put under your supervision during work hours
  • Guest visits to be kept at a minimum, zero is preferred
  • No home chores are expected during work hours

Self

  • Time blocking work hours every day from the same start and end time, 9 am to 4 pm works best for me
  • Phone to be kept silent, offline and in another room preferably
  • No TV or Video sites to be opened in-office hours.
  • Reading tech/news blogs not allowed in office hours
  • Workplace exercises allowed
  • Lunch break at the same time every day
  • No afternoon nap
  • Attend your coworkers or team needs every single day
  • Do not be on and off to work, plan your day, and do not let any burnout
  • No slacking at work even if nobody is watching over the shoulder
  • Meetings to be given undivided attention
  • Keep note-taking pad ready during meetings

Download 2021 WFH Checklist

Am I fully compliant with the checklist?

The answer is no but I have set the bar high that nothing frustrates me about WFH. Going through a checklist every day like an Airline pilot boosts my productivity.

Areas where my WFH setup can improve

There are very few actually

  1. The room is shared with a family member and noise from the bathroom can be disturbing. Eavesdropping and checking with me about some low priority things cannot be removed completely.

  2. The work can be monotonous which makes me slack, I need to identify and come out of the slump

  3. Ergonomics is still far from perfect. I have experimented with

    1. Standing and working - productivity at the minimum, not suitable for deep work unless you are monitoring the work.

    2. Sitting in an office chair - you need to move around frequently and legs can become cold because we do not wear shoes inside homes in India. Ideal for deep work.

    3. Sit on the floor and laptop on your lap - works well for 3 hours, after that, I need to do stretches. Optimal productivity but less than sitting in the office chair.

  4. Lunch breaks can get longer when someone pulls you into a family discussion

Has your performance increased or is it the same in WFH condition

Project execution is a major thing in software projects. I was fortunate to work under good project managers. Project execution can make a team behave like lions or like dogs.

My team has delivered all the major deliverables on time with better quality.

My performance is the same I used to carry a home lot of work because of long commutes and lengthy face-to-face meetings. Now I do not have that carry home and work issue, the work is there in the next room.

The number of meetings has come down, team members know whom to get into a meeting with. So only a few people get pulled into a meeting. If not interested, you can click the left button instead of having to walk out of the room which is considered rude in our culture.

Summary

  • Run through your WFH checklist before starting work

  • Fix the WFH setup issues like the way you fix the plumbing issue

  • Like Peter Drucker pointed out, self-feedback on WFH is an absolute must to navigate your career.

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