Finding ways to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus is the top priority for most of us. Given that the virus can spread quickly in crowded places or places where we are in close proximity to others, minimizing close social interactions termed as social distancing, is one of the main ways to flatten the infection curve. However, social distancing is changing the way we interact and work. The latter having significant effects on the way businesses and institutions run, and how individuals and teams interact with each other.
While working remotely is not a new concept, it has never been at the scale at which it is now required. The Coronavirus has forced businesses to quickly implement Work From Home policies for their teams and figure out how this can be done in a way that maintains working efficiently and effectively outside the office. In the beginning, working from home can feel foreign, so here are a few tips to help you and your team effectively transition. As well as some tips that businesses can integrate into their processes to keep teams effective:
Form a routine:
It is easy to lose track of time when working from home. Distractions like chores, errands, pets or Netflix can hinder your productivity and cause you to fall behind on your work. Therefore, maintaining a routine can help you stay focused.
Keeping your schedule similar to what it was before you transitioned is key. Continue to wake up at the same time, get dressed as opposed to remaining in your pyjamas, jump right into your to-do list and structure your day as you would any other day. Starting your day in a sluggish manner can set the same pace for the rest of your day. So continue to do these small things that maintain your routine and help you get into the mindset for work even though you’re in a different environment.
Business Tip: When implementing Work From Home policies, remember to check which of your staff have Internet connections at home. Don’t assume that everyone does and support where required.
Have a dedicated workspace:
While working from the comfort of your bed or couch is tempting and sounds like a great idea, blurring the lines between leisure and work is detrimental to your productivity. Lacking a distinct room or surface on which to work can easily result in working longer hours, heightened stress levels, body aches from poor working posture and overall decline in productivity. Consequently, you will associate areas you unwind and rest with work.
Instead, if possible, opt to have a designated workspace. It can be your dining table, a cosy nook in the corner of your living room, a completely separate room or a surface outside in the fresh air. When you are done with work, your body will then be able to automatically relax and unwind when you move from your workspace and into your leisure space.
Working from home comes with flexibility and freedom. When you work from home, you can set your hours and where you work based on your mood, task, and comfort. However, with great freedom and flexibility comes great responsibility. It is easy to get lured into doing non-work-related tasks during work hours, and consequently, spend the whole day procrastinating.
Establish boundaries and expectations by communicating to others, especially those you live with, that working from home is still working as you would in the office. Manage your time by scheduling work hours to focus solely on work-related tasks using apps like Forest to increase efficiency and improve time-management.
For others, it can be difficult to transition away from work at the end of the day and you may easily find yourself working well into the evening. We suggest scheduling an activity such as a workout, calling a friend or a short meditation session for yourself or with your kids to support the transition from work to leisure. Taking the time to rest will ensure you are productive the next day!
Business Tip: We suggest starting or ending the day with a short call that focuses the team on daily or weekly objectives and keeps everyone connected.
One of the downsides of working from home is it can be lonely and isolating; especially if you previously worked as part of a team or in a coworking space. Without a common meeting place, it is easy to feel disconnected or isolated.
Isolation for long periods can be demotivating and harmful to your psychological wellbeing. However, you can use different communication tools to replicate conversations and collaborative experiences.
Technology today makes staying connected with your colleagues and peers even when you are apart easy. Take advantage of apps like Microsoft Teams, Slack or Zoom for collaborative projects and regular communication to stay connected.
Business Tip: Businesses can use service such as Loom to record messages for their entire team. This can be a personable way to communicate important announcements and updates as opposed to a long email. In addition, organise a happy hour where all team members can join using their video chat and socialize with each other to keep connections strong.
Make a plan with your parenting partner:
If your children are staying home from school, it is important that you and your parenting partner proactively consider various options and then put together a plan that allows you to share childcare responsibilities. The main idea here is to be on the same page before miscommunication and frustration can creep in. It may require that you both adjust your schedules in order to make the plan work for everyone. This could involve having work and childcare in shifts, dividing your house into work and leisure areas and having scheduled work breaks where everyone can spend some time together. Time together can also be used to talk to your children about the changes being experienced, what the changes mean, and the important lessons that come from a time like this.
Living and working in uncertain times such as these is challenging and bundled in a swarm of emotions. Everyone is in a different situation, and will handle things in different ways, so not all the tips and tools above will be practical or relevant to everyone. Try and find what works for you and do share with us any tips that you have found work especially well.
Remember, it is important to reach out to your support systems – friends and family – during this time of transition and uncertainty. Communicate and seek support for any feelings of stress, anxiety, fear or isolation. If you can, use this opportunity to slow down, reflect and spend more time with your loved ones. Remember, it takes a village.