With the Coronavirus outbreak, many employees find themselves in the position of being asked to work from home. Working remotely from an office environment brings with it many challenges – emotionally and physically. Some feel it relaxing and productive, while others may feel the isolation and become unmotivated and even anxious. So what are some of the key points to ensure that you can remain calm and productive while adjusting to your new work environment?
Your Work Hours and Work Space
Set your hours to your normal work time and stick to it. Keep your regular routine as much as possible by not changing the alarm, jump in the shower as you would any other morning and get yourself ready as in you were going into the office. If you usually grab a coffee on your commute, go out and get one and bring it back to 'the office'.
Make your 'office' just that – a space that is just for you, away from the busy-ness where you can get on with business. Communicate your work hours to those that you share home with to ensure they are aware of when you need to work. Close the door if possible or put up a 'Do not Disturb' sign of some sort to show that you are busy working. Make sure that your workspace meets your normal workplace health and safety measures – correct lighting, screen positioning, ergonomic seating and no cords running across the floor to trip on and make sure you have the right tools you need.
During your day, take regular breaks just like you do at the office. You know you don't sit at your desk all day long, so don't feel you have to at home. Grab a cuppa, stop and stretch, move around and get refreshed, step outside when you are making a call and walk while you talk. Make sure you step away from your workspace to eat lunch.
Keep Up the Communication
So you might not have your colleagues sitting across from you, or your manager in the office around the corner, you still have the tools for open and continuous communication. With today's technology, there is always a way to catch up whether it's by email, instant message, group chats, Facetime, ZOOM, Teams, Skype, text or the old fashioned way of just picking up the phone. Communication is key to working remotely to ensure everyone still feels part of the team and helps avoid those feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can lead to unproductivity and the feeling of being overwhelmed and unmotivated.
Send out updates to your team or manager about how tasks or projects are progressing. This keeps everyone in the loop, so when that weekly 'meeting' comes up, everyone is prepared and on the same page (even if you are not all in the same building). Working remotely also calls for prompt responses and quick resolutions. You won't be in an environment that you can have a discussion in the hallway that will cover the quick question that just came to mind. You need to ensure that when an issue comes up, you address it and the ball will just keep rolling. Be mindful of timeframes that have been set by you and for you.
Take Care of You
Working remotely from home sounds like a dream, but without the right mindset, it has the possibility of becoming depressing and lonely very quickly and can be quite a transition.
Get out of the house at some point during your day just as you would at the office. Go for a walk before you start working, during your lunch break or at the end of the day to clear your head and get a change of scene for a bit. Living and working in the same space can get monotonous, so it is even more important to take care of yourself.
Keep in general contact with your colleagues just as you would in the lunchroom or at the coffee machine. That chitchat that happens in the hallway is a very important part of workplace socialisation and with a little extra effort, can still happen from remote locations – send that funny message to brighten up your workmates day. It will make you feel good too!
Keep Your Chin Up!
The COVID-19 situation, in general, will be having an impact on everyone emotionally in some way. This is an unprecedented circumstance and one that we really have not experienced in our lifetimes. Keeping morale up can be tough in times like this and working in solitude can make that even harder.
Make sure that you communicate with your colleagues, friends and family about how you are feeling - good and bad. Working remotely does not mean you are working by yourself – you still have the support around you in so many different ways. Self-care is an important tool and open, honest communication is a very big part of that.
Finally, there is no right or wrong way in any of this. No set policies on working from home, no rules on dealing with a situation like this and definitely no dumb questions.
Stay safe and look after yourself and those around you.