COVID-19 impression: How to work from a home office?

Screenshot 2020 03 17 at 6.25.25 AM

Written by Prateek Mathur

March 17, 2020

Productivity

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Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Twitter, Wipro, Salesforce, Google Spotify. From India to the US, Japan to South Korea, these are all global organisations that have, in the last few days, worked out compulsory work from home policies among the spread of COVID-19. And it’s sensible to assume that moving to the ‘home office’ will become the new normal for us for a while, given Wednesday’s report by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the coronavirus has officially reached ‘pandemic’ state.
Some workers will be working from home for the first time, which indicates figuring out how to stay on the job in a new atmosphere that may not grant itself to productivity. But there are methods to deliver results and avoid going stir-crazy, from locking up a proper home office to the approach you communicate to your coworkers.

Getting Started with the conversation:

COVID-19 or not, the key to work from home is a clear conversation with your manager – and knowing what they expected from you. “Demand your managers if they can manage a 10-minute brief call to kick start the day and at the wrap-up time of the day. Often, managers just haven’t thought of it.”

Most utmost employees spend their days near their managers; fixing communication is easy and smooth. But that’s entirely out the glass with remote work, and communication disruption is even more likely if your home office isn’t used to remote work. Your managers might not be used to handle team virtually, for example, your organisation might not use any ready-to-go line of tools for remote employees, like the chat application Slack or video meetings setup like Zoom, says.

But indeed for those accustomed to it, operating from home can feel disorganised and isolating. Last year, a study of 2,500 remote employees by online brand dev agency Shield discovered that loneliness was the second-most recorded challenge, one felt by 19% of respondents. Isolation can cause employees to feel less motivated and less productive.

So while you interact with your manager and the coworkers from home, it benefits if as many of it as possible can be “richer” communication that’s face-to-face. “Out of sight, out of remembrance can be a real obstacle for remote workers,” says Sara Sutton. “The most reliable remote workers will reach out to team and managers constantly” using a variety of tools.

‘Handle it like a physical job.’

There are more amazing timeless WFH tips to call. For instance, just because you can lounge throughout in your pyjamas doesn’t mean you indeed should. “Get a shower and get dressed. Handle it similar to a real job.”

If you don’t hold a home office, arrange as much as you can to build an ad hoc, a bespoke place mainly for the job. “Not having a well-equipped home office space for remote working can cause a temporary reduction in productivity,” Sutton reveals. She says double monitors and a wireless keyboard and mouse make her extra productive at home.

So somewhat of lying in bed with a laptop, seek something extra thoughtful. The dilemma could be something as easy as moving a nightstand into a corner far away from diversions, crashing down your computer and sitting on a straight chair, as you do at your office desk. This method also works as a vital sign to those who stay with you that you are ‘at work’. “Create barriers within your house that your family members understand: ‘If the doors locked, believe I’m not there,'” says Kristen Shockley.

With a dedicated workspace wherever you can concentrate, it grows more convenient to unlock the benefits of remote work. In a survey of 7,000 employees last year by a team, 65% said they’re extra productive working from home, calling privileges like fewer interruptions from coworkers, minimum office diplomacies and lessened stress from travelling.

Yet it’s also necessary to bookend your time. In that Buffer review, the most-cited WFH complaint was the failure to unplug after work. “Even if childcare isn’t a problem, it’s still warm when you’re home to think: ‘I have laundry to finish, let me do it very fast,'” she says. “You need to put yourself in a span of mind that you’re working.”

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Avoid thinking you’re isolated

Still, even with these tools, the forced and uneven nature of the transition from an office to a home atmosphere could leave some struggling to get accustomed to the change. “The COVID-19 is forcing everyone into this big working from home situation,” says Nicholas, who’s given TED about remote work. He says there are two kinds of working from the house: short-term or occasional work from home, and regular or full-time job from home. “It is sort of like matching light exercise to marathon training,” he states.

The latter is still quite rare – Bloom says only 5% of the US teams, for example, news that they’re full-time remote operators. With coronavirus, it’s not apparent how long people will be at home, which poses further problems. Parents, for example, will find working harder if children are at home because institutions are closed, indicating close communication with managers – who will need to be understanding – is essential.

Continued isolation could also possibly affect on confidence and productivity. That’s why Larson recommends workforces try to sustain an appearance of normalcy and sociability in unique ways, like virtual pizza parties or remote happy moments where people dial in and experience a cocktail on Slack or Skype.

“It’s a great way to bond – it’s weird, but everyone’s feeling weird, so it’s fun,” Larson says, explaining the “we’re all in this mutually” mentality. “It adds a tiny bit of happiness and lightness to the otherwise difficult situation.”

Sutton also promotes the idea of interpreting in-office everyday activities in an online atmosphere. “Celebrate birthdays, give public recognition for goals given and projects finished,” she says. “Make time for informal discussions and ‘water cooler’ chat.”

‘Keep up the High Spirits.’

These are stressful moments. Negative captions, bothering about ill or ageing loved ones and fighting the urge to go dread buying for toilet paper can all put returning work emails on the back stove. But the added energy you put into communicating with coworkers, the higher chance you have of avoiding feelings of loneliness, which can lead to trouble.

“Overall, a short-run time of say two to four weeks full-time working from home I think would be economically and individually uncomfortable, but tolerable,” Bloom says. “A more extended period of, say, two or three months full-time operating from home could lead to dangerous economic and wellness costs.”

Businesses agreed to the fact that face-to-face communication of managers with the team is more fruitful rather than video calls, or other tools, especially with the workers who live alone and might feel more isolated.

If you’re a manager, it’s on you to achieve clear communication, and it’s also essential to keep up confidence. “It’s easy to be stressed out or lowered these days,” Larson says. If you’re a manager, “recognise there are stress and anxiety. Your job is to be a cheerleader for the company.”

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“Businesses around the globe have turned out compulsory remote work. Whether you’re a newbie or WFH master, here’s everything you need to do to stay productive.”

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