home office.In this new age of COVID-19, if you’re like many of your colleagues around the world, you’re doing your work as a fundraiser from home. You may not know this, but Veritus Group has always been a virtual company. All of our 20+ staff each work out of their homes. I personally have been working from a home office for 17 years.
If this is something new for you, or something you’ve done consistently but just occasionally, it can throw you off a bit. I’ve asked our staff at Veritus to give me their best advice for how they have successfully navigated working from home, so that you can glean some of their ideas and make them your own.
I’m just going to give you one idea after another in no particular order of importance. All of these ideas come from our staff and other MGOs who work from home and have done so for many years. The good news is that YOU can do this successfully – and my guess is that when it’s all safe to go back to your office, people will be more open to allowing you to work this way more. Here you go!

  1. Stick to a similar routine. Don’t fall into the habit of not showering every day, skipping your morning or evening workouts. Do whatever you would typically do in the morning before you start work. You should be always ready to hop on a video chat, and for that, you need to look presentable.
  2. Create a dedicated workspace. Doing your work on the couch creates a weird blend of home and work that make it harder to focus on work. Even though you’re working from home, creating a space separate from home space will help you focus.
  3. Set boundaries. Set up a specific time to work. Take a lunch break. Take a couple of walk breaks during the day. If you’re working late hours, start the next day later. It can be easy to lose yourself in your work from home, and then you lose balance. Also, let your friends and family know that you’re working, and set boundaries with them as well.
  4. Work your plan. As an MGO, if you’re working your plan and connecting with donors through the phone, email, video conference, etc., it will help you connect with people and your day will really fly. Commit to working your plan.
  5. Schedule calls with donors. Treat them with the same level of detail and planning as you would a face-to-face visit.
  6. Never hesitate to let your pets show themselves on screen in a video chat. These are tough times, and an animal’s face always makes things better.
  7. Dress as if you’re really going to the office. If you’re more comfortable wearing a suit to the office, you can do it working at home. Rolling out of bed and wearing your pajamas may not be productive for you.
  8. Drink lots of water.
  9. Take a walk before dinner.
  10. Make sure you set aside time for no distractions.
  11. Create a background for video calls that is pleasing to someone’s eye and not distracting — have your background look professional. No one wants to see your unmade bed in the background. Consider buying a trifold backdrop that doesn’t distract others.
  12. Leave your workspace at the end of the day. Go be with your family.
  13. Build in physical activity — if you have a second story bathroom, use that one instead of the one by your computer.
  14. Use a larger monitor than your laptop. If your workplace doesn’t let you take one home, consider investing in one. It makes a HUGE difference. If possible, consider getting two monitors.
  15. Use a headset as it will improve your sound quality for both phone calls and video calls.
  16. Invest in a microphone for video calls
  17. Create a text or Slack group with colleagues. Share funny and hard moments. This can help give you connectedness.
  18. Don’t overuse email. Phone and video will help you communicate better and get your intended thoughts listened to in the way you wanted.
  19. Find a desk and chair that is comfortable. Your kitchen table will probably not cut it.
  20. Schedule meetings when you’re less creative. For many, that would be in the afternoon.
  21. Do the most important things first.

Okay, that’s a pretty good list. I would say if you can do it, invest in the right technology. It could be another three months before you’re able to go back to your regular office. So I would start thinking long-term in creating a dedicated space for yourself. Oh, here’s one last article for you to check out from NPR.
Finally, here’s one thing I’ve learned as an extrovert working from home for the last 17 years. You will get WAAY more done than you ever thought possible. What would take you all day in a normal office will take you 3-4 hours from home. Why? Because you’re not in wasted meetings, getting up for coffee and talking to colleagues for 30 minutes, etc. Working from home can be incredibly productive.
Take this unprecedented time in our history and use the technology we have today to make those connections from your home. You can do it.