• The Enabling Function

Stay productive while working from home

By Mounika Y

While the lock-down is easing down a bit, it seems a while before we will go back to our workplaces. We were suddenly pushed to start working from home without any preparation due to Coronavirus pandemic and related challenges. We can now be more conscious in selecting our approach towards working from home and make it more productive by leveraging the additional inputs.

Work from Home is the new normal. There is social consensus to say that %age of employees working from home would increase post Coronavirus pandemic settles down. Organizations have seen the positive sides of working from home such as reduced cost of managing infrastructure, saving travel time& cost, better work life balance and reduced impact on the environment and now they are creating a work from home strategy to optimize the employee time and organization resources effectively.

46% of American businesses have implemented remote-work policies over the past few weeks.

Clearly, work from home has its own positives and challenges. A joint report by Buffer and AngelList surveyed more than 3,500 remote tech workers across the world. The top benefits and disadvantages listed by these workers are flexible schedule, the ability to work from anywhere, and not having to commute to their workplace.

While the common challenges listed regarding work from home were the ability to collaborate or communicate with team members, feeling of being constantly attached to work while also being distracted by things to do at home.

And so, the big question being asked is: Are employees more productive while working from home or while working from office? While there are divergent views on the topic, it is not too difficult for you to make your home more productive. Here are a few tips that can help you achieve the goal:

Invest in technology and related infrastructure

Apart from having a high-speed internet connection and a reliable router, using a comfortable headset or earpiece for calls is essential as most of the time we spend on calls with office colleagues. Ensure that you have access to audio and video conferencing tools that would help you stay connected. As a team explore online tools that allow you to whiteboard or brainstorm online. Get comfortable with the relevant ones as it will help elevate your productivity significantly.

Ergonomic Workplace

It looks like Work from Home is going to continue in the same way for months to come. Having an ergonomically friendly workplace is crucial for maintaining your physical health. Invest in infrastructure to ensure that you have a comfortable chair, your laptop at the right height and all other gadgets connected and positioned for easy and comfortable access. There are multiple cheaper options available in the market to ensure the right positioning of your computer and chair, etc. Your productivity can severely get impacted due to posture related issues if you do not pay attention.

Following a routine

Identify the hours that you would spend on work during the day and make them known to your team members and other office colleagues. Your colleagues would then reach out to you only during these hours and you will have the remaining day for you to manage your chores at home. These hours can get fluid while working at home but remember that would only add chaos to your day’s schedule and can be hard to manage. These hours could change depending on any day’s agenda but try to stick to the overall routine as much as possible.

Plan for the week

Given the juggling between work and home that everyone will have to do, it may be a good idea to plan for the week ahead of time. This would help you to stay on track on your weekly goals and allow inform your manager or team about your focus areas for the week. Schedule meetings or calls on the calendar well in advance so that everyone can plan their days accordingly and it will also help you to achieve more in the day. Following a to – Do list for the day/ week will also allow you to track your goals more regularly and keep you motivated to achieve more.

Schedule meeting free days

We all realize that meetings can eat up a lot of our time during the day whether they are done face to face or even virtually. Many employees are complaining of video conferencing fatigue and the pressure to show up in a formal set – up. Meetings also leave very little time to complete important tasks or projects that require high quality output and timeliness. If possible, schedule at least one day in the week to be meeting free so that you can focus on important and urgent stuff. Many organizations are driving initiatives like Meeting Free Fridays or Mornings without meetings to allow employees to focus on important tasks or projects.

Stay away from distractions

While you are at home, the list of tasks at home seem endless and it is normal to get distracted by so much to do at home. Family members might also find you more available and reach out to you more often than at work. This can impact your productivity and time management significantly and create stress. Discuss your challenges with your family members and arrive at a solution that would be a win – win for meeting your work and family expectations.

Maintain healthy diet, exercise, and relaxation routine

Leverage opportunity to work from home to focus on diet, health, and relaxation so that you feel healthy, calm, and physically fit to concentrate on your work. Include an exercise routine into your day to ensure that you stay physically and mentally fit. Enrolling into virtual Pilates, yoga or meditation sessions can help you be more disciplined about your exercise routine. Going for daily walks to replace your commute time, including small exercise breaks after few hours of work, and taking breaks to make healthy special meals for yourself are a few ways to stay focused on your goals. Remember, health is wealth. If you are healthy and your mind is calm and focused, you will be able to solve the most complex technology problems or navigate any difficult business situation and hence any productivity efforts will be a waste without your health.

Focus on your mental health

While working from home has worked well in many ways, it also has its disadvantages. Employees are complaining of increased stress and anxiety due to social isolation, increased chaos due to juggling work and home and or being unable to “switch off from work”. The pressure to enhance productivity is also causing challenges for people to stay motivated or productive at work, feeling uncertain about their progress or performance and other related issues.

If you have tried implementing all the above and still dealing with anxiety or stress or any other psychological condition, you may like to seek psychological counselling through either an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offered by your employer or by reaching out to an independent registered counselor for help. A professional could certainly help you with activities or exercises to help you manage your emotions or sometimes by just listening to you. It is often better to address your feelings than dealing with them in isolation.

Working from home during this time may not be what you planned, but you can make the most of it. You may find yourself living a life that feels like an extended snow day or summer holiday. It takes time to get used to the new normal, so give yourself time to adjust to your new work life.

Have faith in your ability to adapt and find the sweet spot in your work-life balance. Pat yourself on the back for everything you have accomplished, even if there have been some speed bumps along the way.

Remember, we are all in this together.

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