Women working from home


If you’ve found yourself suddenly working from home and don’t know where to begin, don’t fret. We’ve gathered some best practices from a few of our remote IHQ staff members to help you get started on the right foot.

Find a designated workspace

Work space blocked off by baby gate.

Choose a spot in your home to be your “office.” If you don’t have room for a dedicated home office space, set up a temporary spot to call your own. Grab a few supplies to keep within arm’s reach, find a power strip to charge your electronics and select the chair that will provide you the best support. Even if it’s a seat at the kitchen table, having a special spot will signal to your brain (and anyone else in your house) that you are at work—and it will also allow you to remove yourself from work at the end of the day.

Wendy Barker, Gamma Alpha–University of Georgia
Director of Communications & Marketing
10 years remote experience

Be intentional
When it comes to putting in quality time with your direct reports, supervisor, teammates, etc., make moments count. Even if your hair isn’t perfect or you don’t have on your usual work attire, connect face-to-face by turning on the camera when you connect online. You’ll feel less isolated—and nuance and intention won’t get lost in a sea of emails.

Diamond Ewell, Theta Omega–University of South Carolina
New Chapter Manager
3 years remote experience

Maintain a routine
While waking up early to get dressed may seem silly with no one else around, sticking to your morning rituals will help your productivity. Set a time to take breaks. Stop for lunch—watch a short TV show, exercise or catch up on some reading. Sign off at the close of your normal work time. While it’s easy to assume remote employees take plenty of personal time, the reverse is usually true. Keeping a routine will not only keep you on task, it can prevent you from overworking.

Sara Rolin Scott–Gamma Zeta, University of Memphis
Membership Growth Manager
3 years remote experience

Get some air
It’s easy to feel cooped up all day—especially when you’re quarantined! A 15-minute walk around the block is a great way to break up your afternoon and get a little vitamin D. If the weather is nice and you have a balcony or patio, take your laptop outside for an hour or so when you need a little change of scenery.

Katelyn Johnson–Gamma Phi Beta, University of Cincinnati
Extension Specialist
3 years remote experience

Set boundaries
It’s inevitable—some people will hear you’re working from home and assume you immediately have tons of free time on your hands. If you’re anything like me, this will quickly become a pet peeve. “But don’t you work from home?” was an actual reply I got when I asked my Facebook friends for daycare recommendations. It took about a year to train my husband not to assume I’d have dinner ready when he got home. My mom still calls at all hours of the day thinking I’m just sitting around waiting for something to do. In all actuality, I usually work way more hours than I should.

IF you have time and want to throw a load of clothes in the washer, go for it. But if you want to take a walk, call a friend, do some yoga—or whatever—do that instead. In other words, don’t let anyone make you feel like you have to do anything other than what you decide you need to do. Oh, and try not to eat through your lunch break.

Jennifer Freeman Thompson–Upsilon, University of Oklahoma
Marketing Manager & Quarterly Editor
8 years remote experience

Embrace a new normal
Don’t feel like you’re alone on an island. If you’re having a hard time concentrating, stop and ask what you’d be doing if you were in the office. If you’d normally listen to music, fire up your favorite playlist. If you thrive on impromptu brainstorm sessions with co-workers or have a usual lunch gathering in the breakroom, connect online via Skype, Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc. If you organize your work a certain way in the office, use that practice at home. For example, I work in 30-minute sprints and schedule time for them in my planner (e.g. if it’s time to reply to emails, I focus only on that task). You know what works for you at the office—translate those practices to your remote work!

Samantha Handy Murphy, Gamma Zeta–University of Memphis
Director of Fraternity Growth
7 years remote experience

Find your focus

"Work from home," they said. "You'll be more productive," they said. "You won't be interrupted," they said. Picture of cat laying on computer.

Your new environment will inevitably have distractions—the dog will need to be walked, the UPS driver will show up at your door, your neighbor will use the weed eater for a ridiculous amount of time right outside your window. Keep a notepad nearby so you can jot down a quick note before you lose track of your brilliant idea. And, if all else fails, invest in some noise-cancelling headphones.

Hayley Baker–Gamma Zeta, University of Memphis
Events Manager
3 years remote experience


Don’t do it alone, moms!
For working moms, we often find ourselves ensuring the household runs smoothly—through illness and school closures. Our family strives to equally share parenting responsibilities and household chores. One of us will run playtime, while the other preps dinner. Our family isn’t nearby, but they are always willing to help. We have used Google Duo to connect during toddler meltdowns and lulls in grocery trips—there is something special and calming about Granny D’s voice. In times of adversity, we also get creative! A few moms, in my local, online mom-group are agreeing to alternate childcare days to effectively meet their work schedules and current project needs.  Remember to share any emerging family care needs with your supervisor. They can work with you to temporarily modify your work hours to earlier or later in the day, so you can take advantage of any help available to you.

Brittney Paxton, Theta Lambda–University of West Florida
Education Manager
1 year remote experience

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