If you’re new to working from home, by now, you’ve seen or read about 15 posts on what to do, from putting on regular work clothes to setting a schedule and having a dedicated work space. I’m a work from home veteran with fifteen years under my belt, so I know a thing or two about it. It’s true that it does take a certain personality – I fall into the category of finding it hard to walk away from my computer at the end of the day (I’m not sure if that means I’m more or less successful at working from home, but it does mean I get a tremendous amount done).

While I think many of us know the usual list of things you should do or expect when you work from home, the question came up recently about what out-of-the-box suggestions you might have for someone working from home for the first time. Here are my top three:

  • Identify your work style: If you’re an extrovert, working from home will be a big change and challenge. You’ll want to add in virtual opportunities to connect, such as Zoom/Skype/FaceTime calls and meetings, and even consider meeting your colleagues or friends for “lunch” or “coffee” that way. That way, you’ll ensure that you’re staying connected and not feeling too isolated. For introverts, this won’t be as big of an issue (but making those networking efforts might). Schedule in other ways to engage with colleagues and connections that feel authentic to you, like using Facebook messenger, Slack, or group texts.
  • Leave your office periodically: We’re living in unique times right now, so usually, I’d recommend going somewhere that you can interact with other adults. But for the moment, at least get outside for ten minutes to get some fresh air. It’s easy to get caught up in getting “just one more thing done,” but when you work from home, you often need to schedule in breaks that would ordinarily happen naturally when a colleague or superior steps into your office. Taking those breaks acts as a reset and refresh so that you can dive back into the task at hand with a clearer head and more enthusiasm.
  • Expect chaos: We’re all reading the posts that recommend sticking to a schedule, dressing as though you’re going to work, etc. And these are solid ideas. But the current climate is one of great change, and working from home also has its challenges, particularly if you find yourself there with spouses, children and pets. Picture yourself in that famous BBC live shot, delivering your serious report, as your toddler wanders in and your wife dives into the background, and you’ll understand how any moment of your work from home day is apt to go – and that’s okay. The key is to be flexible, ask for forgiveness and understanding from colleagues and clients when you need it, be able to laugh at yourself, and have really good reflexes for both the mute button and your video shut off.

The number one lesson I’d advise for ALL of us at the moment, whether we’re work from home veterans or newbies is patience – with ourselves and each other. Even those of us without regular anxiety are going to be feeling more anxious at the moment, whether it’s about the state of the world, the state of our business, or how our clients, colleagues, and family are faring. It means that we’re going to be less present for the things we would usually be sharpest for – and that’s okay. Review your schedule for the next two weeks to see what items are really mission critical and put those to the forefront, and reschedule the rest for a later date when you can better focus on them. Approach everyone, both inside and outside your business, with empathy and kindness, Cut yourself and others a break. Know that your first few conference calls aren’t going to go perfectly, for technical reasons, because your dog barks, or one of your kids pops in to ask a question – and that’s okay. We’ll all get through this together, with some patience and some humor.

Photo of Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles…

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles recruitment, member retention, and a high level of service to members. She is engaged in the legal industry to stay on top of trends, both in law firms and law firm networks.

In her role as Executive Director, she develops and facilitates relationships among ILN member firm lawyers at 90+ law firms in 67 countries, and seeks opportunities for member firms to build business and relationships, while ensuring member participation in Network events and initiatives. These initiatives include facilitating referrals, the management and execution of the marketing and business development strategy for the Network, which encompasses all communications, push-down efforts, and marketing partnerships, providing support and guidance to the chairs and group leaders for the ILN’s thirteen practice and industry specialty groups, the ILN’s women’s initiative, the ILN’s mentorship program, the management and execution of all ILN conferences, and more.

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2019

During her previous tenure as Director of Global Relationship Management, the ILN has been shortlisted as a Global Law Firm Network of the Year by The Lawyer for 2016 and 2017, and included as a Chambers & Partners Leading Law Firm Network since 2011. She was awarded “Thought Leader of the Year” by the Legal Marketing Association’s New York chapter in 2014 for her substantive contributions to the industry, and was recently included in Clio’s list for “34 People in Legal You Should Follow on Twitter.” She was also chosen for the American Bar Association Journal’s inaugural Web 100‘s Best Law Blogs, where judge Ivy Grey said “This blog is outstanding, thoughtful and useful.” Ms. Griffiths was recently chosen for as a Top Author by JD Supra in their 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, for the level of engagement and visibility she attained with readers on the topic of marketing & business development. She has been the author of Zen & the Art of Legal Networking since February of 2009.