03 . Aug . 2020
Summary – This pandemic may have left businesses operating from the safety of their homes, but it isn’t actually similar to the traditional concept of remote working. Instead, it can be an overwhelming task to keep up with everything that’s been going around. Find out tips, facts, and the work that goes into ensuring you make the most of your tasks, as well as have a good work-life balance.
Working from home in such crazy quarantine times isn’t easy. As more and more businesses incline towards work from home options for their employees in rapid numbers, nothing could have prepared us for such a sudden shift. Even industry giants like Amazon and Apple are facing acute issues from manufacturing to logistics because of social distancing and lockdowns. Amidst such chaos, workers are being laid off in huge numbers from all domains and remaining employees have no other option than adapting to this sudden quarantine working scenario. However, has remote work setting always been this challenging, or is it something else? Let’s break it down further.
Prior to the quarantine, working for home was only for a select few. For the U.S, 7% of people had the option to work from home, and typically came from telecommuting industries like IT, finance, and some fields of banking.
Since its inception, remote working has always been a luxury option for people who aren’t able to travel the distances or comfortable working from their homes and were lucky enough to find a job that allowed it. It generally goes well when people work out a routine and pace according to their work schedules and stick to it, without being distracted all the time. Plus, you get to work in your PJs for even the biggest brands on earth. That’s how a typical remote workday looked like for any experienced remote worker.
That’s not at all what post-quarantine working from home looks like. Given the scale and scope of employees suddenly shifted to working from home out of necessity, most of the organizations weren’t built to operate on such work models. Then there’s the lack of infrastructure, pre-requisite technology, work protocols, and required software compatibility to provide their employees with a favorable work environment at home.
For the employees working in this new era of social distancing, the first few days of working from home come with a lot of amusement as they’re finally getting to spend more time with family, even at work. For beginners, it may also work better in terms of their productivity as they can now pull off extra hours of work than before. However, when working from home for prolonged periods of time, employees generally begin to lose their focus and notice a dip in their overall productivity. Be it for peripheral issues like unstable WiFi, lack of privacy in their home office, or distractions, employees working from home need to focus on their work yield before it gets too low.
It has been observed that working from home in COVID-19 has kept people overwhelmed and has constant pressure at the back of their minds about the ongoing situation which ultimately affects them workwise. Then, there always is the chance of being too carefree about work, since now you don’t have to commute for long hours. Since there are many such issues that can’t be resolved with a hardware purchase or quick troubleshooting, it needs a certain consistency in the given cloister that we’re all in. A more-disciplined and planned lifestyle changes that may help you to perform accordingly:
It’s crucial to establish and execute tasks on the basis of a strict, detailed routine. The entire working from home setting could lead you to miss out on setting priorities in your to-do list since the environment is different from what you’re used to working in. However, once you adapt to focus, assign tasks to a dedicated schedule, and stick to self-set deadlines, it can be easier to get a hold of things.
Working on priority is generally undermined because when you’re at office tasks come to you pre-prioritized (at least when you’re a part of a team). Remote work may not allow you to have such proactive work delegation, and it’s up to you to fill the gap. We would suggest that you use the Eisenhower Matrix to take care of your workload. It consists of four categories: Do, Schedule, Delegate, and Eliminate, allowing you to break down and better manage your task list.
Credits: Eisenhower Matrix
It’s important to know that you shouldn’t be too harsh on yourself and take tasks one at a time. It could help you be better at self-discipline as well as be flexible to adapt to working strategies.
The human mind is a fragile little thing. It’s often too easy to get chatty or distracted when you’re working from home and missing all deadlines. If not kept under check, it may even turn catastrophic for your career – given that we just don’t know how long quarantine working from home is here to stay. Therefore, we would recommend you turn your workstation into a dedicated workspace that’s cut-off from all social media, fear of the situation outside, and help you get into your work-hermit mode, effortlessly.
It can be your favorite couch or a part of the house that you’re fond of where you can work entirely on your own. Don’t sweat if it takes a few hits and misses to figure out that nondisruptive ideal place. Instead, locate yourself in that perfect place where you can get away from all the chaos outside – online and otherwise.
One of the major issues that come with any kind of remote-work is isolation, in other words, Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). However, starting the day with brief agenda meetings with the team and engagement threads can help you understand how your work is putting value into the bigger picture. Even keeping checks via Skype on your teammates can help you stay connected with the rest of your team as well as focus on the work at hand.
Often remote workers rely on work emails as the only channel of communication between their colleagues or managers, which can lead you to feel detached from the mother vessel, drifting in the middle of the space. It’s important to keep yourself engaged in online meetings, as well as have multiple calls/chats discussing work, brainstorming together whenever applicable, to make up for the inability to be present at one place together.
Taking a break even when you’re working from home is as essential as it was while working from the office. Your body and mind can become stressed when working for long hours without motion. Before starting your work day, even the littlest things like getting a shower and being in the proper attire can help your work ethic tremendously.
It’s also important for your eye health to give yourself breaks from screen time. You can always take small breaks in between your work to take a walk, give your eyes their much-needed rest, and flex your muscles. It could save you from serious physical conditions in later life as well as maintain a better body posture and moving physically. You can follow the 20-20 rule by the American Academy of Ophthalmology where you can look away from the screen and focus on anything that’s 20 feet away for 20 seconds, before reverting back to work.
Mark Twain once said, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the BIGGEST one first.” Similarly, it’s important to keep yourself in a rhythm – to work based on priorities, knock off chores one at a time, taking breaks, etc.
The trick is to create more focus (by tuning out from social media, news, or any other deviations), as well as not being too hard on yourself while you’re working from home in this COVID-19 quarantine. Remember, we’re all in this together!
If you’d like to know more about how to keep yourself from falling into known sinkholes of working from home, we’d recommend Common Reasons Why Working From Home Fails, as an interesting read! If you’re interested in a coworking space in Kolkata, Zioks may be the right choice.