The wave of COVID-19 that has affected people globally has also fundamentally changed our work life. Seems like Work From Home is the new normal and is here to stay. Companies, global and Indian have been forced to shift work out of physical offices to ensure safety. In times when social distancing is key in our collective effort to “flatten the curve” in India, we need to stay home and do our best. However, as homes do not provide the managed boundary between work and home, we need to change our approach to both work tasks and home chores.
Here are some tips on how to manage working from home, so that you avoid working out of your car as a last resort:
The importance of a routine:
A tight morning routine helps in not getting lax about work and messing up breakfast with your morning call with your team. Fix an early morning routine that includes getting showered and dressed. Many freelancers and CEOs working out of their garages change out of their pyjamas and dress up to create a mental shift required to sit down to work. This will not just help you, but will also signal seriousness to your family members to give you some space.
Set an agenda, fix time:
It is exceedingly important to set a clear agenda of work on each day by creating a task list that includes all your items. Use office stationery, apps or simple tools like your middle-child’s pin up board to put up a planner with items you need to cover in a day. Now that you are not restricted to a 9 to 5, you can be creatively comfortable and work in slabs apart from team meets that allow you breathing space between blocks of work-time.
Communicate deliverables and set timelines with your team:
One key aspect about WFH is to communicate with your higher-ups and teammates for clarity on what is expected of you and by when. This is key, now that you are not in the same space to share timelines and resonate on where everyone is at in their work. Clearly set deliverables with timelines to organize your work well to sync with the rest of the team.
Fix hours of work, no questions asked:
Fix working hours, in whatever slabs work for you. Many freelancers who have made careers staying home use two big chunks of time, with a break in the middle, along with small breaks between calls to breathe and prepare for the next item on the agenda. Fix these timings and inform your family, so that they can plan their schedules accordingly as well. Be considerate, use your flexibility to help out your spouse or kids as many tasks fall on the family without external help.
Set a workspace that allows creative focus:
Set your workspace clearly, apart from your usual space in the house like the living room or the bedroom, with no distractions. Carve out a space that allows focus and creativity, and therefore is sparsely decorated. Too many objects in one’s surroundings cause distractions and make it hard to focus. Keep less furniture. Go to your study if you have one, or create a space that reinforces your work-related information and habits.
Avoid mindless snacking during work hours:
How you eat is very important to your productivity, focus and creativity. While set office routines allow little space beyond your meals and coffee breaks, WFH can get messy on your diet and allow you to keep snacking (especially now that you might be bored). It is important to keep a clean meal system in place, with little room for random snacking. Eating too much makes one tired and increases hunger, as your digestive system gets no break and your body keeps needing energy to digest. Keep no food in your workspace apart from a bottle of water and perhaps a fruit. If you want to munch, pick dry fruits. If you really want to be refreshed and boost your health in times of a pandemic, drink Auric for sure.
Use a tracking software to keep a tab on your work:
Use apps and worksheets to track your work and progress periodically. What works well is also an old-timer journal to stay on personal track if your device is too distracting. Write your progress, professional and personal. Snooze your social media apps like Facebook and Instagram while you work. Some apps you can use for tracking are Harvest, EverHour or DeskTime.
Find time to build long term capability:
This is good time to pick up skills and courses you have been postponing for long. Skill up to make your communication skills better as it becomes key in doing and presenting your work online. Pick courses on how to work better with digital teams, and leadership skills to handle remote work well. Make sure that the lack of your physical presence doesn’t dent your professional image.
Gear up your office:
This might be a good time to setup your workspace that allows you to work smoothly, without glitches. Good equipment is key to hassle free work. Make sure your devices are in good working condition, you are stocked with office supplies and have ample stationery to help you in an emergency. Keep a good table lamp if needed, along with multi-pin charger points to power all your devices. Investing in office equipment when you’ll WFH for many days is key to keeping on track, hassle free.
Use these tips to get comfortable and stay on point despite a disrupted work situation. Stay safe, and take care of your loved ones. Ayurvedic home cooking and shared love is key to surviving these hard times.