Working From Home? Structure is King!

As we embrace this new way of working, we find ourselves in this mandatory situation. For many, the absence of a commute and having more family time is a blessing. Speaking to many of you over the last few weeks, there was also a sense of wondering how to manage without the structure and discipline of a workplace.

Speaking with Lisa Sheil of Equinix, she has created their own structure that allows her 6km walks, virtual coffee mornings and ticking off the ever-growing to-do list! She was generous enough to share her experience with us, and really taking control of your time as much as possible is the biggest lesson here. Lisa is an Executive Assistant to the MD and is with the company nearly 2 years.

Lisa Sheil Equinox

What is your schedule like now?

“The first few weeks of this new normal were tough, I didn’t have any structure to my day so I was working longer hours and feeling very tired.” I am finding this structure really helps me to get my work done but also helps me feel better in myself, I feel a lot more productive.

My daily routine nowadays is I get up at 7.30am and I walk the dog, I come home, shower, have breakfast and I’m ready to logon at 8.30am.

I’ll take the dog for a quick walk around 11am and have a cuppa too. At lunchtime, I head out for a 6km walk and have a quick lunch so that I’m back on the laptop for the afternoon.

At the end of each day, I do my “to do list” for the following day so I try to stay on top of things as much as possible.

I also get the dog out for a walk when I finish work so that helps to close off the work day.

What has mainly changed for you on your work day?

This new way of working has pros and cons to be honest.

The cons are:

My boss is less accessible as I’m not in front of him and having our normal face to face chats
We do have scheduled catch up calls but I find face to face catch ups can be more productive long term
Another con is that I miss the social interaction of seeing my colleagues in the office.
The pros would be:

I am getting through “my own to-do list” much quicker as I am less accessible to the general office for random asks.
Another big thing is I am getting through so many things that have been on the long finger for so long as there are now a lot less distractions.

What is the one thing you’d got around to do that

I am on top of all quarter one expenses which is fantastic and I am staying on top of them now as I am prioritising these for myself.
I also have had the time to go through all PO’s which I raised over the last few months, I have followed up on issues with suppliers and our accounts departments.

How do you separate your work space from your home space?

I am lucky in that I am home by myself (and dog) each day as my husband is still working. I was also able to collect some equipment from the office (monitors, keyboard, headset etc.) which really helps have a workplace at home.

I am based in our dining room so I put as much stuff away as I can when I finish work and then I go for a walk to close out the work day.

Any recommendations for any of the following (in terms of apps/programmes/software that are free / good value / only if you have budget

I have been very lucky as my employer has been fantastic in helping the employees get through this difficult time;

We use Zoom and Teams for all our meetings now (and we encourage everyone to use the video so we can see each other)
We also have virtual coffee calls just to catch up with each other
We have regular All Hands calls to stay connected
We also have the option to join virtual yoga and meditation classes
For safely sharing documents, we use Box.

Any positive mindset things to do?

As I said earlier, I find getting out walking is a game changer for me and taking breaks too. It’s very easy to stay at the laptop all day long but I really think it is counter productive in the long run.

I am also trying out meditating in the mornings, I’ve heard it is great and sets you up for the day, I am currently trying out the Calm app.

Anything else that you’re finding really helpful/cannot live without?

I never have the TV on when I’m working from home, I find it too distracting but I do like having music on low or listening to a podcast can also help.

And finally… what has been a great watch on Netflix and why ? 🙂

Another good thing of not being able to get out and about is we have watched so much TV. Here are a few things I have watched recently:

  • Save me (Season 1) and Save me too (Season 2)
  • Ozark
  • Stranger
  • Safe
  • The Loudest Voice

Note from the editor: Over the coming weeks, we’ll be interviewing a number or Ireland’s EAs, PAs and Officer Managers. If you would like to share your experiences with your peers then please get in touch. Email Aisling on aisling@zoomin.ie.