Written by: Carolyn Sotos
Welcome back to the Plastics Proud Blog where we talk all things Plastics! The current topic of discussion is the ever changing COVID-19 pandemic. As many of us are dealing with the unknown, we are also being asked to work from home. To some this may come naturally as you already do it in your daily work schedule. For others, this is new territory and poses a challenge. I asked everyone on the iD Additives team to provide their tips on working from home and how they stay productive/organized. Here is what the iD Additives team had to say:
Pictured: Nick and his wife, Jean
"The key to working from home is making a work space that is dedicated as your "office". I find that if I set up my work station at the kitchen table or in the TV room, I can't focus on my work as much as I would if I was at my office. You need a space where you can close the door and commit to getting your work done." - Nick Sotos-President
Pictured: Lindsay's little helper & daughter, Eleanor
"A few tips for people working at home with little kids: Carving out a few hours outside the kids waking hours is key to getting things done, especially if you are the only parent at home at the time. An hour or two before the kid(s) wake up and an hour or 2 once they are in bed. If you have little ones that nap, naptime is the perfect hour or two to crank out some work. During these short bursts of work, it’s important to stay focused and on track. Create a to-do list, stick to it, cross off the completed items and hang in there…
Also, at the end of each day Create a list of 3 things you MUST complete the next day. IF possible, wake up an hour or 2 earlier than the rest of the house and knock out those 3 items. Getting these done will create a sense of accomplishment and drive productivity going forward." - Lindsay Hosanna-Office Manager
Pictured: Carolyn and her fiancé Rob at the United Center touring the Chicago Bulls locker room
"When I work from home, I tend to forget to take breaks and that is so important to give yourself a break. If you don't take mental breaks throughout the day, you will get burnt out quickly and then not get as much done. To remind myself to take a 10-15 minute mental break, I set an alarm for every two hours. I usually go outside my condo building and just do a couple laps up an down my block, weather permitting. If I can't go outside, I go on my yoga mat and do some stretches. Going for a quick walk or doing stretches just gives my mind a break and resets my focus. Once I come back, I feel recharged and ready to tackle my work.
Also, I have been making a list of things I have wanted to accomplish for the iD Additives website, YouTube Channel, Social Media, etc., but never seem to have time to do on a normal work day. When I have some down days while working at home, I tackle these goals!" - Carolyn Sotos-Sales & Marketing Assistant
Pictured: John with his wife Donna & daughter Rena at the Chicago White Sox game
"During this time, it is important to make sure you have strong communication between you and your team. Since everyone is working from home and not in the office together, some things may fall through the cracks and not get done properly. Make sure you are calling or sending an email to your co-workers throughout the day to check in. This way you are all on the same page and supporting each other during this time."- John Sotos- Operations Manager
Pictured: Bryan's son, Liam and his dog, Tig....his two biggest at home distractions
"Working from home has allowed me to utilize my lunch break towards bettering myself. I started P90X a week ago, and have been able to keep up and build a habit of working out every day. I’m not using office time as an excuse for NOT working out (as many of my colleagues find the time to exercise), but being at home excuses me from making excuses myself. I understand not everyone is motivated to working out, but being a new dad certainly opens your eyes!
Other tips (from my buddies that also work from home):
Stay away from the pantry – you’ll eat too much.
Take breaks – you’ll be surprised how much office small talk provides these mental breaks
If you have kids – try to plan the day out the night before, so you can balance the load
Find a space that is your own – a room not typically used
Don’t dress down. Wearing sweats and comfortable clothing (for me, at least) puts me in a completely different mindset.
Get outside for fresh air"- Bryan Whitaker- Technical Manager
Pictured: Heather's husband, Paul and her daughter, Danielle fishing in FL!
"During this time and working from home, I recommend being as positive and having a routine. If you go into your home office with a positive mindset and a plan, you are more productive in getting your work done. I make sure I have a to-do list of all the freight I need to book so, I am keeping orders delivering on time for our customers. Also, I am communicating closely with the Freight Industry to make sure I am staying on top off any changes being made."- Heather Vitullo- Logistics Manager
Pictured: Bryan with his daughter, Avery
"When working from home, if there are other people in the house, it's important to have a dedicated work area where you can work, whether it's a separate home office or just a desk in a room with a door you can close. You can focus more when you have complete privacy. Also, when you're working on a certain task/job, it's important to set aside time to focus 100% on that job and nothing else. If the phone rings, don't answer it; don't look at your e-mail; etc. You have to make sure you are focusing on that one task and getting things checked off your to-do list or else you are jumping from task to task without really finishing it. It's OK to come up for air every hour or so to check messages etc."- Bryan Dern- Account Representative
Pictured: Ron with his wife, Diana (featuring our iD Eco-Pro 360 hat!)
"I have been working from home when I am not traveling for many years. To really maximize my time and get me in the head space for work is setting work hours. It is easy to want to maybe sleep in or enjoy breakfast just a little longer, but you have to set strict boundaries with yourself so, you can be productive, organized, and complete your daily work tasks. If you go into your work day knowing that your works hours for example are 8am-5pm, you are more productive."- Ron Bishop- Technical Manager
Pictured: Our newest iD Additives team member, Dave!
"I make sure to take my dog for walks during the day to give myself a mental break. Also, dedicate a spot in your home as your office (even if your kids now have to share a room) and make sure you face the desk looking out the window. When working from home, you want to be facing the window so you are getting natural light."- Dave Denzel- Technical Manager
Guest Bonus Tip:
Pictured: Greg Hannoosh at the Next Step Communication Headquaters
"I've worked from home for 24 years and I don't think I could ever go back to working in an office again. I remember when I first started my business, I couldn't believe how much more productive I was without all of the distractions I had when working in an office. I was the Director of Marketing & Communications at a company and supervised several people, and it seemed like most of my time was spent dealing with my employees, putting out fires, and attending meetings. You see a lot of articles today about 'work-life balance'. To me, what this means is perhaps the most important lesson I've learned over the years, and that is to be FLEXIBLE. You can be there for your spouse, or your kids, if you need to be. If this means you need to put in the time to get your work done after dinner, or on the weekend, that's OK. When I started Next Step my four kids were 12, 10, and 8 (twins) and when they came home every day from school at 3 p.m. I needed to help them out, whether it meant driving them to sports practices or games, after school activities, etc. I would do a 'hard stop' with my work at 3 p.m. and pick it up again as necessary, which often meant later that night.
I keep a daily work journal where I write everything down - I write notes from the phone conversations I have with clients and vendors, so I can look back on them and refresh my memory on what we discussed. It helps keep me organized and I've always felt that if I don't write things down, I won't remember everything."- Greg Hannoosh- President of Next Step Communications