Owing to the social distancing mandates in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, many IT employees are compelled to double up their homes as their workplace. Companies and enterprises, big and small, are rolling out mandatory working from home provision to encourage social distancing that may ‘break the chain’. The government in every country is trying to thwart the spread of the virus through social distancing and isolation. And urging people to stay back and work remotely.
The sudden change of scenario has transformed the houses into makeshift workplaces. The problem that has been surfacing is, most of the professionals are not used to work from their home and it has become tricky for them to make the switch.
Why do we feel Discomfort in Working from Home?
We are psychologically conditioned to work within a professional environment, amidst our workmates. Working on official matters within the four walls of our home, sounds just the opposite of what we had learned in all these years.
Well, the work from home culture is in practice for few IT professionals, but there hasn’t been such a mass-scale execution of that work culture as of now. Until this day, it has been a luxury that only a handful of IT firms afforded to their employees. Because there was always a primary fear of a drop in productivity, as WFH comes with its own set of downsides and hitches.
However, given the current situation, when the whole humankind is facing a crisis, this seems like the only option left to us that ensures a business to run smoothly. As well as, our source of income also stays intact.
The Tools that keep us Connected, Digitally!
Thanks to the super-fast Internet and other technologies, the world has become much more compact than it used to be 10 years back. Now we live in a global community, where every one of us is digitally connected to the other. Hence, what couldn’t have been possible back then is now possible and can be executed without any hassle.
There is a myriad of tools that make virtual work seamless, thus ensuring a proper course of action. We have got many telecommuting and video conferencing tools that ensure virtual working possible. We also have online interviewing tools that are gaining popularity more than ever.
The ‘Perks’ of WFH. Or as they seem so!
In our workplace, there are several distractions; the typical office banters that stop us from doing some heads-down work. And merely for the sake of social image, we are unable to restrict these trespasses. Instead, we have to participate. But in our home office, it’s just ‘me and my laptop’. We can actually be more productive when there’s nobody around. There’s no peer pressure to join a team lunch and leave your work half done.
However, not everything that seems to be a cake-walk is true in actuality. Working from home comes with several challenges too. For the first-timers, this is a tough time to stay focused and make the best out of this new work environment. This is also a crucial time for them to learn the ways of remote working efficiently and avoid going stir-crazy.
How to do this Successfully
To make this new work culture a success, there are a few Do’s and Don’ts that one must pay heed to. From setting up a workstation at home to keeping team connectivity intact, we need to follow these basic guidelines and principles, to tackle our respective To-Do lists.
We have compiled a few tips that can maximize your time, energy and effort, while you work from home during Coronavirus pandemic now. And believe me or not, I myself have tried most of these and felt the difference.
1. Create a Routine. (And Stick to it!)
It is imperative to create a set routine and follow it religiously, while you work from home. Because a routine helps your mind and your body clock to get conditioned in a way, that stimulates your ability to focus. And this is extremely important for remote workers. Often, during work from home, we let other things get the best of us and tend to by-pass the tasks, thinking that we can make it up sometime later.
But that is not how one should be working remotely. In this kind of work culture, to stay productive, one must have a set routine to stick to. Plan your day with the tasks to be done and set goals for each of them. Your routine will help you to achieve this objective. Planning out your day based on a routine is the need of the hour, never ignore it.
2. Prepare your Workplace at Night
Do you recall when we were small and in school, how our mothers urged us to prepare our school bags at night itself? That’s because it saved time in the morning! Apply the same tactics when you are working from your home. Tidy up your desk and workplace the night before so that you can start working in the morning, right away. The earlier you start, the better!
It’s always good to get involved in the work as fast as you can without wasting any time. Nothing is more demotivating than a scattered work table with crumbles of paper, your coffee mug from the night before, or the files. This particular scene is enough to pump out your motivation in the morning. So always prepare your desk the night before that helps you to get into the work-mode quickly.
3. Ensure Steady Contact with your Colleagues and your Boss
You can only make your WFH successful if you keep regular contact with your teammates and your supervisor/boss. Just because you are not in your office, doesn’t mean you would stop contacting them. Rather while you work remotely and digitally, it is all the more vital to stay in touch.
That’s how everyone will be on the loop and your boss will be aware of your moves. There are advanced digital apps that help us to stay connected virtually. Tools like Zoom, Workplace by Facebook, Slack, have gained much popularity since the world started working from home owing to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Staying in touch with your colleagues also drives away boredom, since you would be missing that quick coffee or smoke breaks you all had together. So it is a win-win!
4. Keep your Spirits up
These are stressful days, so you need to get yourself together and focus on getting your work done. Do not give in to panic, negative headlines and rumors. Because all these negativities will take a toll on your work.
If your spirits are low and you brood about the current situation, which is surely going to reflect on your work and your emails. So, avoid negative thoughts at all costs. Instead, put more effort into your work and communicate with your colleagues, go the extra mile to do something extra. This way, you can be productive at this time.
5. Dress up in an Appropriate Manner (No Pajamas Allowed)
You won’t want to see yourself in your nightwear during the day time. Treat your remote work as real office work and get dressed accordingly. It’s not that you need to put up a show and wear a formal suit at home. But make an effort to dress appropriately. Put on a decent formal shirt and pants. Your pajamas won’t instill the work mode in you that you need to be productive. You never know when a video call from a client comes up.
With more and more tools having video conference facilities, your colleagues and boss might very well want to have a video conference call with you at any hour of the day. So always be ready!
6. Take Short Breaks
Taking short and regular breaks is as much important as the other tips I have mentioned as of now. Consider these breaks to be the similar ones you took in your office with your colleagues.
These breaks work as creative boosters, because working at a stretch blocks our creative mind. To reinvigorate our brain, casual breaks are mandatory. Also, moving from your monitor for sometime protects your eyes, prevents headaches and backaches.
Try to use up these breaks in something worthwhile, like meditation or some respiratory Yoga. Meditation or Yoga is remarkably essential to keep your body and mind fresh. You might also take a short stroll in your front yard or the street. However, do not be too much tempted to take as many breaks as you want.
7. Prioritize your Tasks as you did in your Office
While you start your day of working from home, think that you are in your office. Check your To-Do list and make calls with your boss or colleagues, plan accordingly and prioritize the tasks. You must not rush into things and try to complete multiple tasks at the same time. This ends up in a mess and produces half-baked works. So to stay out of this, structure your priority list and put numbers to each task.
This will help you stay organized and prevent any run-of-the-mill work.
8. Do Stand up and Work out whenever possible
Make sure you leave your chair and stand up whenever you can. Standing up and straightening your back increases focus and productivity. In fact, you work from home or your office, stand up and walk a bit whenever you finish a task and get some free time.
Also, owing to our sedentary lifestyle, most of us suffer from extra weight near the waist and hip. Working at a standing desk for 3 hours can burn up to 24 calories each day. So, in the current situation of working from your home, try to stand and take a quick walk. Also, if you get a call, try to walk and speak.
If you can make time for some quick free-hand workouts, nothing could be better than this. Short free-hand exercises are the mantra to stay fit and active, even when you are unable to step out of your home. Also, this can make you feel fresh and energetic that you can reflect on your work.
9. Keep Yourself Secluded as much as Possible
It’s very easy to get distracted by the things happening around you. Maybe a loud doorbell or loud music from your kid’s room or perhaps a loud TV. Try not to get distracted with these and focus on the activities onscreen. If possible, close the door of the room where you are working, keeping yourself secluded.
Also, you may plug in earplugs that will keep the outside noise at bay and minimize distractions. Music is said to augment concentration. So if you want to focus on your work more, try to tune in some good soft music or an ambient sound. That will help you to stay focused as well as won’t let you get distracted by other non-work noises.
10. Always be Super Responsive
WFH can only be successful if there are responsiveness and alertness. While you work from your home, you never know when any one of your colleagues needs to talk to you. Always be responsive to any message, email or calls meant for you. Revert at once, either on Skype or in Trello or Slack; because quick reverts make virtual working seamless.
Fast response is a positive trait in an employee and employers are always in search of such pro-active remote employees. So respond fast and make your positive contribution to the bigger picture.
1. Never Work from your Bed!
This is a strict ‘no-no’. No matter how tempting it can be, simply avoid working from your bed no matter what! Working from your home does have these flexibilities, but you must make yourself understand that you are in your working hours.
Not only does it cause back problems, but it also makes one slack off or go off to sleep. Moreover, during a video conference, this is perhaps the worst of all backgrounds. In remote working, since there’s no one to supervise you, you need to be more sensible and responsible.
You must take the onus of being your own moral police and avoid doing anything that seems unprofessional. Instead of lying in a bed or a couch, sit on an upright chair and carry on with your work. Get up, stretch yourself, grab a coffee and get to work!
2. Avoid Thinking Work from Home as a Day-Off
Well, though you are not in your office, you are still on duty. So while you work from home, say yourself that you are within your office environment. Treat your WFH as a regular 9-5 office job. Only then can you feel the formal vibe in you. Your friends and families might think of your flexible working hours as a break from work, but that’s not the truth!
Instead, while you stay back and work remotely, your responsibilities get doubled. So never indulge in a friendly phone call for some gossip, a lavish lunch or sleep-ins or chit chats on social media. Keep those for the weekends or after 5 PM, because these can be highly distracting.
3. Try to Avoid doing the Client Calls in the Morning
Yes, as weird it may sound, there’s a strong and valid reason for this. In the morning, just when you wake up, not much of your nerves are active. Even strong coffees don’t work sometimes. So, it’s better not to engage yourself in an important client call during that period. You might miss out on a crucial point or say something irrelevant.
Don’t take the risk. Save your calls for the afternoons, because by that time you are all charged up. Your adrenaline is at its peak and that makes it the perfect time to attend the calls.
Don’t try too hard to be productive; work your way one step at a time.
4. Don’t Binge-Eat while you Work
Binge eating is in itself a bad habit that leads to weight gain. And while you are on duty, it is a strict no! Never mix and work and food together. If you have to eat, then take a short snack break and munch on something.
But avoid snacking while you are working on something. This deviates your concentration as well as makes you forgetful of the amount you are having. And eventually, you end up eating double the amount you eat usually. And if this grows into a habit, you can very well imagine the outcome.
So, this is not only a health tip but also an advice of not to hamper your concentration. And lastly, it doesn’t look professional if a large bowl of food is visible during a video conference.
5. Never ever Indulge in Procrastinating
Procrastination is a vice that you must never indulge in. And this is one of the worst enemies of an individual who’s working virtually. Since you lack the formal work environment with your colleagues, all busy in their work, the boss passing through your room – your brain tends to relax. And eventually, this leads to tremendous lethargy and an urge of lingering a specific work.
I am not ruling out the fact that procrastination does not happen in an office space. It is a human emotion that is natural to happen anywhere. But procrastinating tendencies are more likely to occur in a home environment, surrounded by your family members, your favorite TV show running, the aroma of the food from the kitchen.
All these components jointly attack your sensibility and bring numbness to your nervous system. And that’s the ultimate reason why people have pending tasks while working from home. Remember, when you are availing the WFH option, you are ought to submit your reports on time, finish the assigned tasks on the same day, as well as expected to give some more effort. Hence, no place for silly procrastination. Rather be pro-active!
6. Avoid Fidgeting with your Phone
This is another vice more or less 70% of people suffer from. Ever since Smartphones were available for commercial usage, we happened to be glued to our phones. And since Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest surfaced, our Social Media addiction soared high. Well, at offices we are under constant surveillance through CC TVs, which discourages us using our phones now and then.
However, at home the scene is a different one. There an individual is free to fidget with his/her phone at any time. However, what they fail to realize is, this particular action hampers their all over productivity. Avoid sending tweets or sharing photos on the Social Media channels, your boss could see them and it is a negative image. To stay away from your phone and all those notifications, simply log out.
Or work in an incognito mode, which ensures you stay signed out from all the handles. Apart from doing these, you should also make yourself understand that staying away from your phone (unless official calls) is a good idea to make yourself more efficient.
7. Don’t take Break to do some Household Chores
Your break time is just to have a snack, have lunch or attend your baby. Do not take breaks and get involved in laundry, dusting or any other household chores. Not only is it an utter unprofessional attitude, but it also is detrimental towards your productivity. Household chores take time and ultimately, you will have no time left for your actual official work, which is absolutely undesired.
That said, if it is too much necessary then allot yourself a half an hour time to sort these out. Simply put, use your break wisely or you will never get your assigned works done. And there would be unnecessary extended working hours.
8. Confining Yourself to 9-5 is not a Good Idea
Work when you are at a productive peak. If that time is at the crack of dawn, move ahead. And if you find afternoons are your best time to be creative, leverage the time. When you are working from your home, do not confine or limit yourself to the office hours. Just keep in mind that you need to finish the daily assigned task within the stipulated time. Make the most of your natural flow of energy and creativity.
Working as per your body clock and your natural rhythm is the best way to bring out your productive self and prevent mental exertion. As long as you inform your colleagues and your boss about your timings and finish the works at the end of the day, you are sorted!
9. Don’t Think You are Isolated
Honestly, in such tough times where people are so much affected by the COVID-19 and death rates are rising, it is obvious to feel a bit gloomy. And from this gloominess, a sense of isolation arises. It is understandable that people who are so much accustomed to working with teammates, within a cheerful workspace, would find the WFH culture demotivating. But this is not the time to feel isolated.
Thanks to the technological advancements, we have a plethora of apps and remote working tools at our disposal that enable us to stay connected with our friends and colleagues. We can indeed make our virtual workplace a fun thing. So accept this transition as something new and tread through.
To overcome this extreme condition, experts suggest having virtual pizza parties or remote happy hours on Skype or Slack. This digital camaraderie brings lightness to digital working and is significantly vital to uphold the good spirit and healthy morale. It may seem weird – but weird is fun, right!
10. Don’t Encourage Yourself to take Naps during Work Hours
Nope, not accepted! Naps, no matter how short and quick they are, are not all welcomed. Try to finish your work within time and then get some solid rest. But never allow yourself to doze off in between work. Splash your face with cold water, stretch yourself, and grab some strong black coffee. These are enough to drive your doziness away.
If still you feel sleepy, watch a clipping of a horror movie that charges up your adrenaline. Or a cartoon that tickles you to laugh out loud. Do anything that activates your sloth nerves. One good advice will be, avoid a heavy lunch. Too much food induces laziness, making your body crave for sleep.
The Coronavirus outbreak has pushed everyone to a new extreme. It is definitely challenging to adapt to the newness of the situation. But we can surely bring success to the IT industry if we follow these basic dos and don’ts. It is difficult to say when the effects of the Novel Coronavirus would subside. So, in these unprecedented times, let’s support each other and move towards success. The tips mentioned will help an individual to work from home successfully, just in case the isolation and lockdown period extend.
In short, though working from home has got several perks. But it also demands more self-discipline and self-awareness than it is required while working in an office. It is always wise to have a remote team that can manage the works even if such critical situations arise. A1 Future Technologies will be more than happy to be that extended creative team of yours, who can work remotely and keep your business up and running.
The tips mentioned above can make you feel productive from inside and help you to work more efficiently during the pandemic and the ongoing lockdown period. Do you think you have a few more tips to add to the list? If yes, please share the same in the comment box below. Stay at home, stay strong and focus on work!