No matter how the 2019-nCoV virus situation develops, there’s a good chance you may have to consider working from home at some point.
For employees who’ve only ever worked fixed hours from the regiment of a cubicle, the idea of being essentially unsupervised, within 20 steps from their comfy bed and with the remote poised for a Netflix marathon, can feel overwhelming and potentially isolating. Setting yourself up for success though is down to a few simple rules.
Setting yourself up for success though is down to a few simple rules.
This is rule number one and crucial to a successful WFH scenario. Out of sight, out of mind, so that you’re not tempted to stay/work in bed till 2pm, or not at all.
Tempting as it may be to remain in your PJs all day, don’t.
Set your alarm, have a shower and get dressed in a presentable clothes, complete with your usual skincare routine and/or some light make-up. This physical act of getting ready will trick your mind into thinking it’s work time and not play time.
Staying motivated and productive is hard enough with the boss within earshot distance. When you’re home and “invisibly” connected via Skype or Google Hangouts it can be too easy to procrastinate and to have prolonged Netflix lunchtime sessions.
Treat working from home like you’re in the office, schedule (and stick to) coffee and lunch breaks, share these timings/movements with your team if it’ll help to hold you accountable.
Even though you’re not physically in the office, it’s even more important to communicate your movements and work goals. If you’re leading a team encourage everyone to detail down key priorities and time frames, and set aside time to do daily check-ins.
If you’re part of a larger team, initiate a work status document (use Google Sheets, Monday.com, Trello etc..) of what everyone is doing and make it accessible.
On a personal level, if you need help staying on track, use the Eisenhower box, an urgent/important matrix to help you decide what to do now and what can wait.
This one is a little tricky to enforce but essential if you don’t have a dedicated space with a door for an office.
Sit your family members down to explain that they should treat your remote work stint like you’re in the office, even if they can see you.
It doesn’t mean you can’t stop to talk to them or to help with a chore but these distractions should be kept to a minimum.
If there’s no room for a walled-off office then set your work space up in a quieter part of your home, and if need be, with a strategically placed bookshelf for privacy.
Your new office doesn’t have to take up a big part of your living space. It can literally be the corner of your dining table, the caveat is to set it up like you would in the office.
If you need a laptop stand to ensure your screen is at eye-level, look for a cheap and portable one and consider investing in a decent monitor so you’re not hurting your neck and eyes. Definitely invest in an office chair so your lumbar region isn’t aching.
Before you kick off working from home, contact your IT department to make sure you have everything you need to make it happen. Office firewalls can be tricky to navigate and don’t be surprised if you have to go through a number of complicated steps just to access your email. Also, this is the time to agree with your team on how day-to-day communication will take place (Skye, WhatsApp, Slack), how files will be shared (Google Drive, Dropbox, WeTransfer) and a daily check-in time.
A big plus of working remotely is setting your own hours, however this can also mean accidentally working overtime.
Online tools like Rescue Time helps to keep tabs on your day so you don’t work after the allotted workday. It can help block access to time-wasting websites and enable healthy, data-driven boundaries so you don’t feel pressured to answer non-urgent emails at 2am just because you’re now working from home.
Another tip is to set up an auto responder detailing your in-office hours and the window of time a recipient can expect a reply so expectations are managed.
You can’t think if you’re hungry so have a think about what you need to get through the workday.
If you’re intend on preparing your lunch, or know you need a snack at 4pm, make sure you’ve got all the ingredients for this to happen – or have your GrabFood app handy.
Pre-plan as much as possible so you’re not spending unnecessary time surfing online recipe sites and menus to decide what to eat.
Sure, the office is too noisy but now that you’re working from home, it’s almost too quiet.
Consider getting a white noise app or machine so there’s some ambient noise.
If you’re used to burning a candle or have an infuser going, do the same to keep your immediate surroundings consistent.
Don’t be surprised by a sudden desire to declutter your closet while working from home – anything to put off the work. This, and other chores (collecting the mail, buying groceries, cleaning the kitchen) will have to wait till after working hours. It’s essential to delineate firm boundaries between work and non-work matters.
A big downside of working from home is staving off that feeling of alienation. You don’t have your usual lunch buddies, you’re often home solo, maybe for days at a time.
Commit to going outside for fresh air on a daily basis, even if it’s a mid-afternoon walk to leave the desk and stretch, you’ll be surprised how much clearer your head will be.
If you’re someone who functions better after a 20-minute cat nap, take it. If your productively is higher as a result, everyone wins, just make sure you’re not missing an important conference call or meeting.