With the spread of the novel coronavirus affecting everything from international travel to the availability of hand sanitizer, mitigating COVID-19 in the World has become a growing concern. That’s why many companies are mandating or recommending that as many employees as possible work remotely until the virus can be slowed.
Plenty of people fantasize about working from the comfort of their own home, foregoing their commute in favor of more sleep, family or exercise time. But working remotely is a double-edged sword – sure, you get to stay home, 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 binge of that one Netflix show you’ve been dying to watch, staying productive at home can take a little extra effort. Plus, the isolation can quickly become a downer for those used to socializing at work. And some people, of course, would prefer to stay in the office.
Remote working jobs are on the rise. Now, many employees can work from home as they please, or even live in a different city than their employers. This ability provides modern workers with the flexibility and work-life balance they’re often craving in our contemporary technology-driven reality.
Along with the benefits of remote work comes an array of challenges for both employers and employees. Employers have to figure out how to efficiently manage and treat their remote workers, while remote workers have to figure out how to work effectively and autonomously.
Luckily, there are plenty of tools and resources available that make remote jobs easier to navigate than ever before. So, first thing’s first: you should probably sit up straight, eat some breakfast, and put on some pants. How else can you stay focused on the job and mentally healthy while working remotely? Here are four tips from work-from-home veterans and workplace experts.
Get Set Up
One key to being the best remote worker you can be is making sure you have sufficient space to work in. More specifically, you should designate a physical workspace in your house where only work occurs to properly switch your brain into work mode. If you don’t have enough free space in your home to have a full office, designate one desk or chair to help with productivity. Consider ergonomics when setting up your workspace; choose your chair wisely, prop up your laptop to the appropriate height, and make sure there’s room for your feet to lay flat on the ground. Making these physical changes at the start of your day helps your brain transition from personal time to work time, making you a more focused worker.
While remote work often allows you to set your own hours, a lack of structure can be detrimental to your workflow. Rather than flying by the seat of your pants on any given day, dictate what hours you plan to work at the start of the week and stick to them. Utilize a digital calendar tool to let coworkers know what you’re working hours are, so they can know when it’s appropriate to ask you questions, or when you should be left alone. Schedule your hours around appointments, lunch, and other activities just as you would at an office job, but be sure to pencil those into your calendar as well, for full transparency.
Try your best to mimic from home the same habits you would as if you were working in a physical office, such as taking a moment to chat with coworkers or grabbing a cup of coffee at your local cafe. Neglecting to step away from your desk can lead to feeling isolated and ultimately burning out. Get creative with your breaks and run out for lunch with a friend or take a walk around the block to get some fresh air. Essentially, anything you can do to give your brain and body a break will be beneficial to your overall experience and productivity while working virtually.
Use Reliable Tools
Because of the great distance between coworkers and clients, virtual employees rely on the right tools to productively communicate throughout the day. Having poor call-quality on client calls can be detrimental to those relationships, so utilizing a reliable phone system is crucial. Luckily, VoIP phone services alleviate this issue by allowing you to make crystal clear calls through your Internet connection. On top of having reliable phone lines, you’ll need reliable chat channels and video conferencing tools to communicate with coworkers and managers as well. After all, constant communication is crucial for both team and individual success, and facilitating that from a far can be made much easier with the use of these tools.
A time to be there- Work from Home
As this outbreak continues to get worse it is important now more than ever to look after those around you. Managing your mental health can become difficult as lines between work and home become blurred, face to face interactions are reduced and routine changes. I have found it hard and I/we are still trying to navigate this change. I have decided to put a few thoughts down on what has worked for me and other members of the team.
This outbreak is scary. It has made me nervous and scared. Misinformation is everywhere and it is hard to filter everything that combined with reduced human to human connection means that stresses can overflow. It can seem overwhelming and hard to handle at times.
I found it incredibly important to remain connected to those most important to me. I am speaking to my family more than I regularly do, checking in on friends and sharing worries and stresses.
At work, we call regularly and make sure our videos are on to keep up our ability to connect face to face. We are discussing how to introduce a new routine into our work from home lives and the importance of still doing activities that we value most.
To create a productive work environment at home whilst ensuring we are still able to “switch off” means managing stress and keeping the connection.
Everywhere I look at the moment someone is telling me their “opinion” about what will happen to me, the country and my company over the next few months. It is something I am also guilty of. It is an emotional rollercoaster and one I struggling to deal with, from reading sensationalist headlines to sanguine evaluations of the situation.
To help maintain emotional buoyancy we should make a conscious effort to filter what we read and watch. Read articles, watch videos and listen to podcasts produced by those qualified to put out content on the subject. Disconnect from sensationalist news outlets and do our part not to share “clickbaity” headlines designed just to attract readership.
Look for the facts. This can help us remain informed on the subject whilst keeping our worries and emotions in better balance.
It is easy for us to get wrapped up in our situations which is perfectly normal. There is no point hiding from the fact that the foreseeable future is going to be tough on everyone. Everyone will respond to the circumstance and situations in different ways which again is normal.
It is super important we are there for everyone whilst understanding their response, although it may be different from ours, is their way of dealing with it. Avoiding biases, we must individualise our approach to help those around us cope. I have always found that being mindful of those around me has always resulted in the same behaviour being reciprocated.
These times are unprecedented. But we are hopeful. I am hopeful that the incredible strides that have been made in workplace wellbeing will continue to be made. Now more than ever, we need to band together to help those around us whether it is with their mental health and physical health or with everyday life and caring for the elderly. We need to be there.
I can assure you that myself, Ankush and the rest fo the Livitay team will be there for whoever needs our help.
A Final Note
Remote work is a workplace trend that will undoubtedly continue to grow as the tools and technologies companies use for communication improve. When done the right way, a remote job can provide both workers and their companies with a healthy balance of freedom, flexibility, and production. Using the tips above can serve as a guide for how to make remote work as effective as possible.
(The author is IT Product Expert Founder- Jammu Startup Community)