June 1, 2020
It is now official - Working from home is the new normal
Even as countries and economies are reopening post-COVID-19 and getting back some semblance of normalcy, a lot of Organizations are still wary about bringing their workforce right back into the offices. The ‘Working from Home’ phenomenon is hence here to stay for a long while.
At the outset, the concept of working from home might seem to be a luxury, a distant dream come true. However, in reality, the practical task of staying productive work wise, without the normal resources and routines can turn out to be quite challenging.
Here are some handy tips to help you deliver your best even while working remotely.
It is important to have a properly planned schedule, one that you stick to as much as possible. Having clear guidelines for when to log in to work and when to wrap up things is crucial for people working remotely to maintain a proper work vs life balance. Of course, there can be exceptions where you need to stretch beyond regular work hours, but you will need to ensure that it is set off over the days, so that you may avoid a work-related burnout.
Although you might feel it's okay to stay in bed or head out to your couch while connecting from home, it is always advisable to set up a simple, dedicated workspace anywhere in your home. Even if you do not have a proper desk available, use your dining room table and convert it into a working space. Besides making you feel like you're at an actual office, this can help you maintain proper posture, avoid distractions, lethargy and help you stay focused on the work at hand.
It is important to lay down some basic rules with other people in your home or those who share your space. If you have kids around, you need to communicate with them explaining that you are not to be disturbed while working unless it is for an emergency. You also need to establish clear rules about what they can and cannot do during that time. Also, the fact you're home doesn’t necessarily mean that your family members should assume you will be available for the regular household chores. Having a discussion with them about this would ensure that your productivity does not suffer.
Spending time in figuring out what to work on for the day, can end up being a huge waste of time for you, affecting productivity. It's important to have a fixed agenda and to-do list to work on well ahead of the start of a workday, but with room for flexibility as well. It's good to have a rough outline of your next day’s tasks so that you might not feel so lost when you wake up the next day and not get bogged down thinking ‘Where exactly do I begin?’
Just as you fix up regular slots for your working hours, it is equally important to fix intervals for breaks. You need to give yourself adequate time during the day to take a break from the computer screen and phone. A lunch hour and maybe two 15-minute breaks can be a reasonable break schedule that can be followed.
As much as you might get tempted to squeeze in some housework in between work breaks, it is always a bad idea to mix up personal and domestic chores with official work. It's okay to have breaks but your regular chores must not distract you or take you away from your official work.
Make sure that you get into a huddle or check in regularly with the rest of your team just like you would in the office. Maintain to-do lists to keep yourself organized and focused, and share updates and status of your deliverable with them so they know you're on top of your work. Regular email updates or team messaging tools like Slack or Flock or Video conferencing tools like Zoom or Google Hangout can help you achieve this. It is also good to set up regular check-ins via video conferencing like Google Hangouts, or Zoom.
Last but not the least, cut yourself some slack. The most successful remote employees are the ones who are extremely disciplined. It definitely takes serious focus to get a full-time office job done from your personal space. However, it is equally important to go a bit easy on yourself in case you do end up lagging a bit work wise. Attentions can drift, things can happen, we are human beings after all. The only thing to do then is to take a break and get back to the task at hand with undivided attention to make up for the lost time.
There are numerous advantages to working from home. But there are many challenges, too. Finding ways to keep yourself motivated and keeping interruptions and distractions at bay can help you stay motivated and productive. Highlight things that will likely distract you and take steps to deal with them. Set up that workspace that's comfortable, power on your laptop and go on to take on the official world from the confines of your personal space.
Carpe Diem, Seize the Day!