Pajamas, a cup of tea, bed head and my family still asleep upstairs - sounds like the making of a good Saturday morning, doesn’t it? Turns out it was Tuesday morning versus Saturday morning. It was far different than the previous weekday morning.
When I arrived at work on Monday morning, I had showered, brushed my teeth, and fought traffic to get into the office. I was selected to be in the first group that would leave the office and begin working remotely. We left not long after our morning meeting and headed home to set up our computers. I had learned quickly after being sent home that it was going to take some structure and planning to make this work. I did not have a set office space since my wife and I were turning that space into a nursery. So, I proceeded to our quiet bedroom to set up. I found myself face to face with a 32” TV. I figured I would use that as my monitor. I soon found out that a 10-year-old flat screen leaves a lot to be desired as a computer monitor. I had to lean into my flat screen just to see what an email said. This was not going to work. I realized that I needed a workstation that had a screen that displayed words that were legible, and something that was not set up on my wife's dresser.
That night I decided to set up my office in the basement. For me, having a space carved out that was my “work office” would put me in the best position to be successful. I spent the night setting up the office in preparation for the next day. I knew that it was not going to be perfect since the basement is unfinished. But if it was a place where the distractions were limited, I would be successful. All the essentials, like a desk light, Google Home and a phone charger were in place, and I was ready to go the next morning.
The first morning at my new workstation was the one where I had decided to trade hygiene for beauty rest. I still awoke at a reasonable time, 7 am, but I had to run to our church to get an Ethernet cable to connect the computer to the world wide web. I returned home and connected my computer to the modem like Clark Griswold connecting the Christmas lights in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. Like that, I was ready to start my day.
After completing an 8 am kickoff call to get some direction for the day, the dials began. A day on the phone would present its challenges as folks would share the struggles that their business was facing during this uncertain time surrounding the COVID-19 crises sweeping our country. However, I was determined to help them get the resources they needed for their business and indeed I did. I pressed through the calls. After facing objections and adjusting my conversation, I managed to get a few opportunities for one of our clients. Maybe it was the green painted cinder block walls, dirty laundry and coffee that tastes like tea? Or maybe it was the fact that I had taken my time to set up a workspace that gave me structure and a place with limited distractions.
The first day was over, as I ascended from the basement, I found myself thinking about the fact that I had not practiced appropriate hygiene for the day. I was somewhat proud of myself for making it through the day, considering this was out of the ordinary for me. However, I was determined to see if the following day would bring me any more success - if I were to make an effort in my appearance and routine.
Wednesday morning was much different. Obeying my alarm clock, I arose and started my routine. I showered, steamed my clothes (business casual), put gel in my hair and headed into the office. I could already tell that I felt much better about my day. I found myself owning more of the conversation with clients, alert and willing to offer my assistance to my co-workers. There is just something about getting up and having structure to your morning that gives you that extra boost in your day.
After a morning of calls, it was time for lunch. When at the office, I would normally have a packed lunch that was stored in my medium sized, black lunch bag. I would spend a portion of my lunch hour talking to my wife, Kara, on the phone. But this was no ordinary day in the office. It was business in the basement, home on the main floor. So, what would I eat? Leftovers, a sandwich, cereal? An upgrade over the vending machine, I carefully chose an egg sandwich. I know it kind of sounds odd, but hey, my house, my lunch. This day instead of eating my lunch at my desk and talking to Kara on the phone, I was able to sit down with her and enjoy our lunch together. It’s like clocking out for lunch, opening the outside door and walking into your home. Having the separation of work and lunch has allowed me to come back to my work from home office, fresh, like in the morning.
Is it different to handle sales development calls from home? It is. It is much different making calls from home. When in the office, you are surrounded by your co-workers who can hear your conversation and keep you accountable to the right conversation, and to encourage you when you hit a rough patch. When in the office, you experience the pressure of others overhearing your conversations and the worry of how you sound on the phone. When working remotely, there is no pressure to make sure your hair looks good or what you are wearing for the day. Making calls from home is different and requires you to push yourself and not rely on peers, production managers, or even HR to push you to have your best conversation. This opportunity allows us to show others – and ourselves – what we are truly made of.
On Wednesday, I was able to put on a true business professional mindset as if I was in the office. Why? Because I conducted my day as if nothing had changed, save the place where my computer was located. I finished the day with three opportunities for our clients – but above that number, I put myself in the best position to succeed. Now removed from the work week, I reflect on how the work week has finished out. Week one is down, and I’m feeling good about the work-from-home life. On Tuesday of that previous week, I saw a post on Twitter by Jon Acuff and it read, “I’ve worked from home for 7 years. Here’s some free advice if you never have. Start the day with a shower and then dress like you normally would for work. I love pajama pants too, but they’re the breeding ground for depression. Flannel feels like failure by day 3.”
In a time where everything is shifting and changing, I know I must put Concept and myself in the best position to succeed. I still get up in plenty of time to execute a sound morning routine. Overall, find a routine that gives you the best chance to succeed long-term so that you can be at your best every day. And know that what you were able to accomplish at work you can accomplish at home too.