While not all job roles are suitable for working from home, (imagine a doctor performing a surgery from a distance), for many jobs it does not make a difference if you are seated at a cubicle, a cafe, or a study desk in your bedroom.
Gone are the days when we run to meeting rooms with clients, laugh with peers during lunch break and gather around for business presentations. No one could have predicted or prepared for how long “working from home” would extend until. As we adapt to the new normal, we have compiled a list of pointers to help you sideline new distractions, and effectively work from home.
Designate a Work Space
Home is a place where many people feel relaxed and cosy. It is often hard to upkeep work habits in your personal oasis. It is tempting to flop onto your bed and indulge unproductive feelings of fatigue and restlessness. It can prove challenging to remain motivated and inspired in the comforts of your abode. Refrain from elements/spaces that you would normally equate with relaxation and leisure. This could include a comfy couch or the bed you just woke up from.
A good tip would be to dedicate a specific spot for work activities. In an ideal setting, you would have a spare room which could easily
be converted to a temporary office. However, if you are trying to make it work with limited space as the rest of us, design an allocated space to simulate an office environment. Think bright (or natural) light, study table, sturdy chair, near a printer and charging socket (if you are using a laptop). Keep work documents in this space so they are easily accessible during your working hours. Refrain from spaces that might be entangled with personal engagements, such as working in a room where there is pending laundry on the bed or setting up your laptop in the kitchen where you are easily tempted to check in with the refrigerator every 15 minutes.
If you are unable to set aside a conducive workspace, another option is to check into a quiet meeting room or cafe, where you would not be tempted to fall asleep on your sofa, or be confronted with the list of chores for the day.
Prioritise Quality Technology
With endless online meetings and documents in a shared drive, it is crucial to have a decent internet connection in your work area. If you notice that your connection is spotty, find the best place to situate yourself to ensure your work is constantly saved, ensuring that you meet task deadlines. The last thing you want is to spend your time and energy uploading a document that eventually remains unsaved, or worse, lost forever.
Firmly Stick To Office Hours
It does not take effort to get distracted with the myriad of thoughts running through your mind. If it happens in the office, it definitely happens at home. Be clear about your official working hours and stay committed to it. Practise discipline and integrity by keeping in line with your work schedule. It is important for your body to get into the routine of a consistent work cycle. This helps to eliminate insomnia and fragmented concentration that are contributed by irregularities in our life. Behave at home, how you would in the office – as though your supervisor is watching you.
A potential pitfall when working from home is having office hours bleed into your private time. Creating and sticking to boundaries will help you keep distractions at bay and safeguard your well-being. Clear boundaries will also help you to stay on track and not veer off in the direction of your fleeting whims and fancies. Do not sacrifice work performance as a cop-out in light of the pandemic. Businesses and organisations are getting hit hard during this time and they rely on their team of employees to keep the place running.
Communicate & Coordinate With Family Members
If you are living with family (like the majority in Singapore), you would most likely be having multiple members of your household working together at any given time. Whilst it might be challenging to get into the ideal work groove, you could attempt to strike somewhere close. Communicating and coordinating with members of your family is key. Let them know you need quiet during a specific time frame if you are due for a work phone call or need to concentrate on an upcoming presentation. Creating boundaries will help your family members understand your needs and allow them to provide it, where possible. This could include being firm about when they should knock on your door for non-work matters and interrupting your workspace with other personal engagements. This would avoid potential clashes and unnecessary stress as you find a mutually-beneficial way to manage the differences. It just could be a win-win situation for all.
Be an Empathetic Colleague During the COVID Crisis
It is easy to fall into the trap of “out of sight, out of mind” when working remotely. Staying in touch with co-workers can help to boost team efficiency as you stay abreast work updates and retain the human aspect of our job. Some of the ways in which we could boost team morale, productivity and strengthen co-worker relations, is by checking in with each other via a group chat or a simple online catchup meeting.
Leave room for “imperfections”. Do not make insensitive jokes or rude remarks if someone shows up for a meeting with messy hair or a piled-up desk in the background. Be gracious and patient with your colleagues. Do not fuss over the noise in the background or be quick to criticise when they drop the ball and make a mistake.
Instead of showing your frustration, try to check in with them and ask about their well-being. Some might have trouble handling work and home stress concurrently. Others might be struggling to cope with having their children or elderly parents at home in view of closed daycares and limited capacity in hospitals. The most important point is being engaged and retaining human connections amidst global isolation. Share resources and ideas for self-care to empower your peers to take this pandemic in stride. Showing people you care will allow them to feel safe and open up with things they are struggling with. This will give your understanding and perspective on how to work towards common goals efficiently and effectively.