COVID19 and Remote Working: Adapting to this Rapid Change

16 March 2020


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Sleeping in. Staying comfy. Saying good-bye to traffic. Being in the comfort of your own home. Remote working can seem like a dream — until you start to experience it first hand and realise that the days can seem longer, that your colleagues’ company makes a huge difference in your work days, and that the line between personal and professional becomes a blur. Obviously, having this flexibility may improve quality of life, however we need to put a few boundaries in place in order for us to get work done whilst managing our work-life balance better.

Moreover, some companies had to implement remote working overnight, due to the recent and rapid updates on the COVID-19 situation globally. This means that people may be finding a bigger challenge to adapt immediately to this new working style.

Therefore, here are a few tips that will help you stay motivated and productive when working from the comfort of your home (without losing your sanity!).

Establish Your Working Hours

Different roles require different styles of working. Each team adapts to a system that works best for them and their stakeholders. Depending on your responsibilities, you need to adapt your remote working hours accordingly. Managing yourself becomes even more critical, therefore asking questions like ‘would I be doing this task if I were at the office?’ should give you a clear answer of how to manage your professional and personal time better whilst ensuring productivity.

Remote working can offer a more flexible arrangement when your role allows it. Communicate with your employer to decipher which style works best for the both of you and your team, so that you can manage expectations and find the optimal way to work remotely.

Unplug after work

With remote working, you’re no longer waving your colleagues goodbye after a day’s work and for this reason some could easily find themselves in a situation where they find it difficult to close off at the end of the day, but instead spend hours on end in the same environment. Shutting off from work may become harder when your workspace is your home. Therefore, having a designated working space helps you feel that you have officially finished your day and you can shut the door on it.

If you’re using tools like Microsoft Teams, update your status accordingly so that your colleagues are notified of whether you are available or not. Prepare a timetable for yourself and make sure you stick to it. This will allow you to organise yourself and ensure your plans to have a healthy work-life balance are on point, like making the time to prepare your meals the night before or go for that 30min run. Remember it is vital that you are taking responsibility for your well-being.

Humanize communication & Eliminate Misunderstandings

This is the time to communicate more than ever! Working from home can cause an array of misunderstandings, because you might assume that people know what you’re thinking, can see your body language or facial expressions, and are aware of your working schedule – but in reality they are not.

Therefore, make sure you’re prudent and respectful towards others; don’t assume that everyone works the same hours as you. If you’re an early riser and start working immediately, don’t be tempted to start messaging people early. Similarly, if you’re a night owl, don’t assume that everyone else is working late.  Also, since you can no longer physically see your colleagues, use video calls rather than emails and voice calls as it helps with avoiding misunderstanding by enabling others to be able to still see your non-verbals. This makes a huge difference when communicating!

No man is an island – it’s likely that at a point you will feel disconnected and possibly lonely. You start missing your colleagues’ silly jokes, the corridor chit chat, and even the office environment. In order to avoid this, do not wait for scheduled meetings to happen, be proactive and give your colleagues a ‘check-in’ call. A little human interaction will make a huge difference to your wellbeing.

Stay Motivated and Focused

It’s easy to feel like you’re not at work just because you’re not physically at the office but that doesn’t mean you can afford to slow down. To improve your productivity, you’ll need to align your mindset to your new work life: Get dressed and avoid starting your day in your sleep wear, it helps with signalling your brain that it’s time to work. Additionally, make sure the ergonomics of your workspace are right and try not to work laying down. Make sure that you step away from your laptop every now and then to take breaks and refresh. Moreover, now that the daily commute is out of the window, the only walks you will be doing are from the desk to the fridge. Therefore, ensure you make time for some physical activity daily, even if it’s only for 15 minutes!

You’ll also need to manage your distractions – while office interruptions like that colleague that never stops talking have been eliminated, you now have new distractions to manage; be it social media, young kids, or your pets. Keeping a timed to-do list will help you focus on the task at hand but before you start, take some time to explain to your family that you’re working so that they understand why it is important to you not to have any distractions. Find your productivity playlist and put your headphones on. It’s time to get productive!

Explain it to Your Kids

Understanding the concept of working from home is not so easy for children (obviously!). Therefore, they need to have it explained to them in a way that transmits the values of hard work and responsibility while showing the parents’ love and commitment toward them. Try to find creative ways of how to keep your kids entertained by asking them to help you with your important work in a fun way like asking them to draw something for your work.

Moreover, don’t hide any challenge you are facing from your employer – be honest about your distractions or concerns. Working remotely doesn’t have to be rigid but it can give you even more flexibility to manage your work life and your family life.

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