Work from home advice...

#WFH

With the Coronavirus/ COVID-19 affecting everything from international travel to the availability of hand sanitiser, mitigating COVID-19 across the globe has become a growing concern. That’s why many Governments are telling companies to let as many employees as possible work remotely until the virus can be slowed.

Plenty of people fantasise about working from the comfort of their own home, foregoing their daily commute in favour of more sleep, family or exercise time.

Working remotely however can be a double-edged sword.

On the plus, you get to stay home and spend more time with your family but it can be harder to focus on actually working. Whether it’s a pile of laundry that suddenly looks more appealing than your bosses’ to-do list or a quick three-hour Netflix binge, staying productive at home can take a bit more effort.

Plus, the isolation can quickly become a downer for those used to socialising at work. Some people would prefer to stay in the office.

So, first thing’s first: you should probably sit up straight, eat some breakfast and get dressed.

How else can you stay focused on the job and mentally healthy while working remotely?

Here are some tips from work-from-home veterans and workplace experts.

Set a dedicated work location...

Try to find yourself a dedicated and comfortable spot to work in that you can associate with your job and leave when you’re off the clock — that means get off the couch, and definitely out of bed. A dunning room table or home office can work well.

It definitely helps if you have a dedicated space for working from home.

Setting up a dedicated home office where you can close the door and shut out distractions can pay dividends.

You can also go to local libraries to take advantage of their free Wi-Fi etc. out if Lockdown conditions, but under lockdown then staying at home is a must.

Find a Buddy Or Colleague that you can call when needed...

You might find it easier to be productive without your most chatty coworkers constantly buzzing in your ear but social interactions, even with colleagues, can alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Durham University’s Dr Thuy-vy Nguyen, who studies the effects of solitude, thinks the psychological effects of working remotely for extended periods is often overlooked or ignored, despite it being an essential factor in our mental well-being and team bonding.

“We’re used to social interaction,” she says. “It facilitates cooperation and closeness.” 

To help fill the socialising gap while working remotely, Nguyen recommends finding a colleague you can call when you’re feeling the need to chat with someone. Alternatively, buddy up with a friend who works elsewhere and is going through the same experience. Hopping on a social video call or phoning, instead of just texting or emailing can be a good idea too.

Have a Work from Home Plan...

Nguyen also recommends that, when working alone, you should keep a more structured daily schedule than usual.

“Usually our time and the structure of our day are influenced by other people,” she says. “You’re going to experience your day as lacking the normal structures that you usually have. People might have a hard time dealing with it. So one of the things that we found in our trying to understand solitude, is that time spent alone is better if it’s structured.” 

Remembering to schedule multiple breaks throughout the day, in order to do some things that you enjoy, can help to keep you productive for the long term..

Think About How You’re Communicating

Haughey says it’s important to go beyond email and use other digital tools that can better replicate the in-person office experience and provide for clear communication.

“There will be a sense of isolation of course, and it depends on how well your team communicates, or how much they’re willing to amp up communication using other tools besides face-to-face conversations,” he says.

Harvard Business School’s Prithwiraj “Raj” Choudhury, who studies remote work and the relationships between geography and productivity, found an interesting solution to boosting camaraderie among remote workers: pizza parties. While researching remote work habits at the U.S. Patent Office, which implemented a more robust “work from anywhere” policy in 2011 — Choudhury discovered a manager who hosted weekly lunches via videoconferencing.

“She would order the exact same pizza to be delivered at the same time so the team would have that bonding experience and still feel like a team,” says Choudhury. “This is the future of work, so we cannot just keep doing stuff in the old familiar ways, we have to create new processes.”

Furthermore, better communication while remote can help maintain your relationship with your colleagues, managers, and direct reports. It’s also important for managers to encourage employees to share their opinions or concerns about a particular project so they don’t feel like they’re being dismissed just because they’re not in the same room.

Remember Everyone Works Differently

Managers should remember that not every employee actually wants to work from home, a shift that can be stressful for some. As companies increasingly have more and more employees working from home, during the coronavirus outbreak, and maybe even beyond, it’s key that they get their employees to communicate with each other as much as possible and especially try more to help employees that are struggling with the change, says Nguyen.

“If management actually forces people to stay at home, then that would add another layer of stress,” she says. “Giving employees as much information as possible can ease the burden caused by the disruption.”

Still have regular meetings...

If you need to still have regular meetings then utilise a Face to Face meeting app like Zoom to ensure that you and your team can get together to chat regularly in order to keep that team spirit and camaraderie together.

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