The Corona epidemic has forced us all to work from our homes indefinitely. And with the way things are going at the moment, chances are that this arrangement can go on for at least a couple of months. As a result, most IT companies have made it mandatory for their employees to work remotely to try and put a stop to this rapid and vast spreading of the Covid-19 virus.
Now, working from home is the new normal and many of us will be experiencing this type of work setup for the first time. There will be challenges, there is no denying it and for both- employees and employers. And even people who work from home permanently will have to adjust to these lockdowns and find a way to work without a dip in their productivity with all the new disturbances around them.
So to help you get a better hang of the work-from-home setup, here is our guide on how you can work from home effectively during this ongoing health crisis.
1. Stay Connected with Your Boss and Your Colleagues
The biggest hurdle in working from home is maintaining a proper communication channel with your team leaders, managers, and workmates. By working in the office, we have grown accustomed to seeing our boss’s face every day and with us being in the same building all the time, we can go and get clear instructions right from them. But that is not an option anymore. And so, you will have to keep in regular contact with your manager and boss and understand what their expectations are from you.
At the same time, you will need to relay any bottlenecks that you might be facing in the most straightforward way possible. Working remotely can create a lot of confusion so there is no scope for vague asks and questions, you need to be straightforward with your boss. It will save you and your boss a lot of time and effort.
Ask your manager to have a daily standup call in the morning, ten minutes would do and in it, share your entire day’s work plan and try to get his or her input on that. Also, make sure that you use tools like Skype, Zoom, and Meet to video call. Face-to-face interactions with your managers and all your team members will give a sense of camaraderie and help you in not feeling lonely.
According to a study conducted by Buffer, an online brand development agency, in which 2,500 remote workers participated, the second-largest hurdle in working from home was found to be loneliness. And when people who have been working from home for a long time are susceptible to feeling lonely, those of us who are new to this setup are bound to feel lonely as well and having a healthy face-to-face communication will help you combat that.
2. Work From Home involves Working From Home
There is a reason why many people prefer offices over working from their homes. The office environment and home environment are two very different things. In offices, there are set rules and regulations, there is a check-in time and there is a check-out time, there is a time you are supposed to have lunch and you have a designated place where you sit and work. There is an order in the office. But at home, there are no such limitations and that is why many remote workers were enticed with this work setup, to begin with. They can get up when they want and they can work whenever they want and wherever they want, on the sofa, in the bed, hanging upside down from their pull up bar, the point is, remote workers have a lot of freedom.
But this freedom can cause a sudden drop in the productivity of an office worker. When a person who has worked in an office all his or her life is asked to work from home, they are overwhelmed by the lack of boundaries. Some take it to their couch, some take it to their beds and think that they can maintain some level of productivity as they did when they were working in an office. But that is rarely the case.
That is why it is advised by many professionals that when working from home, it is a good idea to take a nook in your house and turn it into your workstation. Sitting in a chair upright as you used to in your office will help your productivity.
Another argument the critics of remote working make is all the disturbances around them while they are working from home. Parents with little children would understand it all too well. But apart from that, many other distractions can hamper with your workflow as well. Making boundaries while you are working from home will help you in focusing on your work. Telling your family members that while you are at your workstation at home, you are not to be disturbed for every trivial thing and demand, in fact, tell them that they should just forget that you are even there in the house altogether.
In a survey conducted by FlexJobs in which 7,000 workers participated, 65% of the workers said that they were more productive at home since there were no interruptions from colleagues, office politics and no stress of commuting back and forth between their homes and office.
But in the Buffer survey, we mentioned above, the most cited work from home complaint was the inability to switch between work and home mode. When you work from home there are no clear boundaries; you don’t walk into the office, punch in your in-time and head for your desk and at the end of the day, you don’t sigh out loud, thank the lord that the day is finally over, punch in your out-time and go home. No, you are at home all the time and this can create troubles for people and to fight this inability to switch modes, Kristen Shockley, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Georgia suggests that you try something she calls ‘psychological segues’ by doing things like having a coffee in the morning before you sit down on your work station and having a ten minute exercise period when you are done with your work for the day. What this will do is create solid boundaries and program your mind that now you are at work and now you are not.
3. Fight Isolation and Keep Your Spirits High
Possibly the biggest personal challenge that you will face while you are working from home during this crisis is of isolation and anxiety. With so much happening in the world right now and the constant barrage of fake news that is thrown our way, it is very easy to panic and feel lost. This in return will affect your productivity and your capability to make sound decisions.
During these troubled times, we all need to instill the feeling in our virtual workplace that we are all in this together and that we can and will beat this virus. And by being in constant touch with each other and having frequent calls with one another with no agenda can help us ease the stress. Try to have frequent coffee break calls or just pizza calls in which you all just share a meal together over a video call, thanks to technology it is not such a difficult task to accomplish now.
While many of us have worked from home before, right now we are facing a long period of isolation in which we will be practicing social distancing for the sake of the world. And as a result, we will face times when our spirits will be low and we will be gripped by the fear of the future.
Nicholas Bloom, a professor of economics at Stanford University advocates in the favor of remote working and says that the biggest weapon that we have right now in the ongoing collapse of the old ways is keeping each other close and being in touch with each other. Video calls and frequent non-work related conversations with their teammates can help remote workers mimic the office environment and help them in not feeling so alone and as a result, lift up their spirits.
Celebrate birthdays and milestones over video calls, share funny videos, make it a more fun-filled virtual work environment so that you can your colleagues can take your minds off all the negativity that is going on around us and focus on work and give it your 100%.
We are all in this together. Whether it is fighting the Corona virus or working from home, we are all in the same boat right now and the best way to keep it afloat is to work together and work as a team. In these harsh times, it is imperative for you to keep working and keep giving it your best. Your companies need you sharp, now more than ever before with so many looming uncertainties and you need to step up to the plate. So use our guide and take your efficiency and productivity to the next level while working from home.