Many local and national governments around the world have initiated “shelter at home” and “work from home” policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While some of our employees have been working remotely for years, for many of us, this is a completely new experience. We’re now starting to develop some new routines and work habits. The question is, are they good habits?
For many starting the work from home (WFH) process, the biggest concern is often that there will be so many distractions, no work will ever get done. In fact, after listening to employee feedback, reading articles about WFH and even experiencing it myself, the challenge is often figuring out how can I stop working. We roll out of bed and, since we are not commuting to the office, there is no clear demarcation of when the day begins. Similarly, we don’t need to wrap things up and get home in time for dinner, so again, no boundary of when the day ends. The result is from the time we get up until we go to sleep, we are glued to the computer. The reality is – when working from home, we must find the right work/life balance. With that in mind, here are some practical considerations for those working from home.
One trap people tend to fall into during remote working is they sit down at their computer and never get up to take a break. We don’t do that when working in the office, and we should not do that in our home offices either. Here are a few simple tips from employees who already have been working remotely around the world:
Get up and stretch. Don’t go more than an hour or so without getting up and stretching your legs for a few minutes.
Interact virtually with your co-workers. Use Zoom (or other video-conferencing applications) to create virtual meetings – and even virtual breaks from work.
Quick stand-up meetings with your team – gather them together occasionally through video conferencing and talk about how their day is going.
Water cooler/coffee machine – schedule 15 minutes a couple times a day for colleagues to get together and chat. It doesn’t have to be work-related.
Lunchroom – if you have colleagues you would normally go to lunch with, bring your lunch into your computer or iPad area and enjoy a relaxing break together.
Workout – if you have fitness equipment in the house (or even if you don’t) get some music going, download a free 7 min. workout and challenge each other to get the blood pumping.
Happy hours – many companies are now hosting end-of-day virtual happy hours using video conferencing. It works!
Keep family close, even during shelter at home. Please take advantage of your access to Zoom and similar video tools to keep in contact with your family. They do not need the Zoom application installed; simply share a Zoom link via email so family members can join through a web browser.
Here are additional productivity tips for working remotely (Source):
- Create an ergonomic workspace. This means a good chair, proper desk height and as many screens as necessary.
- Build a routine to help ease into work mode. Don't forget to include meals, breaks and light exercise (standing up to stretch counts).
- Divide the day into chunks such as "serious work," "catch up," "collaboration and so on.
- If possible, use specific parts of your living space for different activities. Example: use the home office for major project, the kitchen for phone calls and backyard for catch-up meetings.
- Instead of basing your productivity on whether you worked eight hours, base it on a question to yourself: "Have I done a good day's work?"
While everyone is working so hard remotely, no one wants you to burn out. Find ways to break up the day. Get some fresh air. Go for a walk around the neighborhood (remember to stay at least six feet away from others). Keep connected not only to your family, but also to your co-workers and your teams. There have been a lot of very rapid changes over the last few weeks, and we sometimes struggle to keep pace as we rush to implement new policies and procedures that fit within WFH and shelter at home, but we are all succeeding in making these necessary adjustments, one step at a time.