At DORIS, we help organizations create their ideal workplace. Even when that organization is working from home.

Especially right now, your workplace is so much more than the four walls of your office building. It includes every IM you send to your boss, the corner of your living room you’ve carved out for work, and every video conference with your coworkers. It also might include a puppy chewing on your sock in the corner or a kid getting frustrated with their math homework at the kitchen table.

Noise and distractions are some of the most common challenges people face in their workplace. Taking a look at our past projects, we’ve distilled some wisdom that might help you as you navigate working from home with a full house.


1. Involve everyone in making a plan.

When organizations are getting ready to move into a new space, we always advise that they involve everyone in deciding how spaces should and shouldn’t be used.

The same strategy can be applied to working at home. Think of it as an opportunity for everyone to feel as though their voice is being heard before final decisions are made. Come up with a list of questions together that need to be answered, then take some time to come to consensus on answers.

2. Set boundaries.

Establish where the workplace is and isn’t. Something as silly as a homemade sign with a green circle and a red circle can communicate whether you’re available to chat or deeply focusing.

And if worse comes to worse, don’t be afraid to take inspiration from prototyping! Maybe your office is delineated by tape on the carpet that you peel up at the end of every day.

3. Take breaks, whether scheduled or not.

When you work from home, it can be easy to fill up breaks with getting a load of laundry folded or unloading the dishwasher. But it’s just as important to take real breaks, too.

If you can, plan breaks where you hang out with your kids or take your pup on a walk. Then, plan another break where you give yourself permission to scroll aimlessly through Instagram or watch a dumb video.

And when you just have to take a break from work to deal with whatever chaos is erupting in the other room… do it.

4. Bribery is not the same as giving in.

On that note… intrinsic motivation is great, but a system for rewards can help keep everyone busy, too. We’re thinking about long road trips with families where after 2 or 3 hours of good behavior, we got a new coloring book.

At DORIS, we know that not everyone is comfortable with wildly creative thinking. We’ve found that giving everyone a bottle of “ideaprofen” (M&M’s in a fun, branded container!) can really help spur the ideation process and keep everyone focused. Whether it’s a favorite snack, a Kong filled with peanut butter (probably better for the pets than the kids…) or a new book, reward those in your life for hanging on through this crazy journey with you!

5.  Pobody’s nerfect.

Having empathy for others is at the heart of everything we do at DORIS, and we believe that it’s a practice that can be learned, not an innate skill you’re born with.

While we’re all dealing with change to our normal routines, taking a deep breath and understanding where someone else is coming from is incredibly valuable.

Nobody’s perfect. We’re all going to mess up. We’re all going to get distracted. We’re all going to cause disruptions. But instead of looking at it as a loss of productivity, maybe a better way is to think of it as an opportunity to build stronger bonds.

So when we arrive “at work” tomorrow, and the baby is crying or the dog is barking, none of these tips and tricks may be as effective as acknowledging, “Hey, that sucks, I’m sorry. Let me know when you’re ready to start.”

Bonus Tip: When it’s time to go back to the office, DORIS has got your back.

Okay, working from home might have been fun at first, but eventually you’ll likely be day-dreaming about returning to your office buidling. But going back can be scary!

Ensure a smooth, safe transition back to the office.