5 Insights for Working From Home Like a Pro
For many members of the global attractions industry, working from home is a new phenomenon. After all, the root word of “attractions” is “attract.” With positions that require rides managers, games supervisors, curators, and many more attractions professionals to be present on site, working away from a theme park, family entertainment center, or museum is a unique situation.
However, Matt Heller and Joshua Liebman, hosts of the Attractions Pros Podcast, work from home every day.
“When you think about interacting with your coworkers and going to get coffee, that just doesn’t happen (at home),” says Heller, the founder of Performance Optimist Consulting.
“So you have to replicate that by getting on the phone or texting someone.”
Liebman says those working from home will find themselves needing a period of adjustment away from the office.
“You will find yourself breaking every single one of these ... and that's OKAY!” says Liebman, the director of business development for Amusement Advantage. “The most important thing is awareness and trying to get comfortable with the new normal.”
Who better than Heller and Liebman to share the best practices they’ve developed working in place?
Here are the podcast hosts’ top five tips for working from home:
- Get Up, Get Going, Get a Routine
Before the day gets started—or gets away from you—Liebman says have breakfast, even before opening the laptop or scrolling a smartphone.
“Meals are one thing; exercise is another. Make sure you do that before you even check your email, otherwise you end up in the rabbit hole,” says Liebman, based in Chicago. The advice comes after he realized at 2 p.m. one afternoon in March that he was still working in his pajamas and had yet to make his morning cup of coffee. Both Liebman and Heller suggest you still get dressed as if you were heading into an attraction for a day of work.
- Make Space, Not Haste
The kitchen table. A card table in the living room. A desk in the bedroom. All can be acceptable work-from-home setups.
“Mentally prepare yourself that ‘That’s where I am going to get my work done,’” Heller says. “When you go out to the rest of the house, you can say ‘Now I am home.’ And when you go back to that (office) space, think ‘Now I am at work.’” Both Heller and Liebman believe having a space where you can physically close a door to the work area will help create the illusion you’re at work. “It’s just as much a mental game as it is a physical game,” Heller believes.
- Find Your “Prime Time”
With potentially a more lax schedule at home, Heller says find a time when your body chemistry allows you to perform at your peak. If that is early morning or late at night, Heller says maximize what he describes as your “prime time.” “If you are the most productive and creative in the morning that is what you would call your prime time,” Heller explains.
Hitting your prime time can also be of benefit for parents when their children are home from school and need attention. “If you can plan your day around your prime time, and then maybe there are a couple of hours for the kids to do schooling, and then maybe your spouse’s prime time is in the afternoon, and you’re watching the kids … you can get a lot more done during that prime time because your mind is ready and body is ready,” Heller believes.
- Don’t Allow Conference Calls to Linger On
Save that thought. Instead of wasting valuable time holding a conference call to simply check a box, Liebman says managers should give their employees time to get their jobs done. "Treat those conference calls like they are in-person meetings. And if they aren’t needed, don’t have the conference call,” he says bluntly. While technology like FaceTime, Zoom, and Ring Central support face-to-face meetings, Liebman is a fan of saving time by putting items that are not mission critical in an email.
- Permit Breaks
Heller suggests you take breaks by going for a walk outside or a quick bike ride. “Getting some stimulus away from a screen—whether you’re working on your phone or computer—is really, really helpful because it gets your head in a different place,” he says. Using fresh air and sunshine to pause the workday can allow time for quiet reflection, problem solving, or just raking the leaves in the yard, as in Heller’s case at his mountain home in Hendersonville, North Carolina. “You don’t always have to be in that (work) space to have the best ideas. Sometimes they come when you’re in a completely different mindset,” Heller says. He also recommends setting an alarm on your smartphone to remind you when to take a stretch break.