Working from Home
It is a trying time, and a time of many new experiences for most of us. Some good, some not so good. Working from home, for those of us who are able to, is fast becoming the new normal, and it presents it’s own challenges. I run A Guide to Cardinia from home, and I can tell you, those challenges are unique and sometimes pretty hard to see a way past. But there’s a lot of advice and help out there for those are now having to do it.
But we need to understand one thing. This working from home is NOT “remote working”, something that is planned and structured. This is a situation we have not experienced in our lifetime. It is a world-wide crisis, and working from home is an almost overnight response that many of us will not fully adapt to before the situation ends.
So, some pointers and guidelines – nothing rigid here, folks, because it’s all so very new.
Communicate. With your partner – if you have one. With your kids, if you have them. With your boss, and your colleagues. Make sure you’re all on the same page, and that everyone’s expectations are clear. And breathe.
Create some structure for your working day.
While it will never be close to how your day in the office is normally structured, using that as a base for working from home is a good start. Plan a start time as close to normal, and an end time. Start your day as if you were going in to the office, and work on it from there. What’s the first task you do when you get in to the office? Do that first up at home, and so on.
If you can, set aside a space in your house for your work space. Keep it separated, and use it only for work (until this situation is resolved).
Log out of your social networks. Seriously. social media (as useful as it can be) in this situation is a trap.
Plan what you’ll be working on ahead of time – yes, that does mean speaking to your boss! – and have regular check-ins to a) let them know how you’re going and b) to see if anything has changed that’s relevant. No-one needs to be virtually or digitally looking over anyone else’s shoulders, now, but communication is always key to success.
Allow time for your kids.
If you have kids at home, be prepared for distractions. The younger they are, the more chances of being distracted. Chances are (strangely enough) they love you, and – depending on their age) – won’t fully comprehend why you’re there – but they’ll be delighted and want to spend some time with you. And the older ones could well be experiencing some anxiety of their own – and you are their rock. That’s more than ok. I mean, aren’t kids one of the big, if not biggest, reasons we spend so much time working for someone else?
Make some time for them. Build it into your schedule. Have lunch with them, even. And stick as closely as you can to work and break periods. (Don’t feel guilty if you take a break from work and don’t send every one with the kids).
Motivation and productivity.
Creating the structure talked about above plays a big role in staying motivated and productive at home, but there is more that you can do to help yourself.
Keep it outcome focused, not hours focused. If you knock off early for the day, and your work is done, awesome! If it’s _really_ early – check in with the boss and see what else could be done. If the day ends, and your work hasn’t – don’t go to pieces. Will it take working crazy long hours to get it done? If it will, would you be staying back at the office to do it? Or planning for the next day? This comes back to the structure you’ve set up, and the communication you’ve had with your boss. (Even if you’re the boss, same thing, just reverse it all).
Reward yourself. With such a major routine disruption, it can be very difficult to stay motivated. To help you get into the swing of it, give yourself a reward every time you complete a task, and reduce the rewards the more the new routine settles in, until you’re back to a level of acceptable motivation.
It’s a new kind of tough, working from home, but one that’s going to be here for a while, and may well stay for longer than COVID-19, for some.