Even before the Coronavirus double-whammed us this year, there is a sizable number of people in the West who have been working remotely for small to large companies. Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of Wordpress, can tell you a thing or two about how working from home is good for business in his TED Talk.
According to Flexijobs, the number of remote workers has grown by 44% over the last 5 years and 91% over the last decade. In fact, I have been working remotely for the past 2 decades.
There are perks to working from home but it’s not all a bed of roses in here. With the pandemic upon us and the call for #stayhome resonate throughout the world, some of us may be facing some difficult dilemmas.
So, here are some of the things we should take note of while we battle it out with our schedule, children, bosses, clients, co-workers, and, of course, the ominous virus.
1. Have a Designated Work Space...or Corner
This may boil down to it being a personal preference but having a specific location or corner in the home to work from is important because it helps us come into work mode more quickly.
Of course, not everyone has a spare room to convert into a home office but it could work out even if you’ve designated a table or a corner of the living room to be your workspace. Outside of that work area, you’re OFF work.
It’s more of a mind thing than anything else. While you’re keeping your mind healthy, we need to also keep our immune systems in tip-top condition too.
One big takeaway is that as long as you’re at that specific space, you’re working. Anywhere else, you’re not.
While it is perfectly fine to take your work with you while you attend your cousin’s wedding in Hawaii, you’d be better off keeping work away from places you’re supposed to be resting at.
I keep work away from my bedroom. If I had to answer a work-related email, I would lumber my way to my designated workspace just to do it...bunny slippers and all.
2. Dressing Up for the Role
We’re not talking about dressing up to the nines for the office. It’s about waking up, actually taking a shower and dressing up as comfortably but professionally as you can, on a normal working weekday.
Yes, nobody will be there to admire how your new heels look with your new top but getting out of your pajamas on a work-day does a lot for you mentally.
During this Coronavirus outbreak, we’ve seen a rise in the number of video conferences being held. Holed up working people located all around the world are beginning to see the full spectrum of available apps and software that can help them communicate more effectively with each other from anywhere in the world.
Dressing up for the role is especially important if you’re having a video conference call with your boss or co-workers. It is also in line with helping you feel and look good both inside and outside.
3. Schedule Up and Plan Ahead
Using a calendar app that can sync up your schedule between your laptop, email, and smartphone works wonders. Don’t forget to also set a reminder, alarm or prompt so that you don’t miss meetings or calls.
It’s perfectly fine if you are not a fan of having too much of your personal info revealed to the apps. If you have a physical notebook (yes, the paper kind), make use of it to keep yourself organized, punctual, professional...and sane.
For teams, it is highly recommended that we set a predetermined day of the week and time as a regular weekly or bi-weekly meeting. This meeting is a must for everyone and not to be missed. This way, everyone knows to clear their calendar for this singular time slot.
Even if there are very little updates on the work front as things stall (this can be seen during the early days of our new housebound workdays), keeping to a regular weekly meeting works as a fantastic team morale boost!
Those who actually schedule up time, despite their remote work, for lunches, coffee breaks, and mingling sessions with their coworkers, family, and friends are happier and more efficient at work. A happy worker is less susceptible to distractions and tends to be more focused.
4. Help your Kids and Spouse/Partner Understand
This is a tough one.
Understanding what working from home means to YOU is one thing, it’s quite another to get your kids, partner, or spouse to sing the same tune.
One useful advice I can give you is to be patient and consistent when setting the new rules. When you’re working, let them know you’re not to be interrupted unless it was something urgent. Regulate your hours and sync up rest-time with your on and off working hours.
It’s not as clear cut as walking out of the house every morning and coming back to welcoming hugs in the evening, but kids can understand. Get your relatives to help out if you can. If there is no help at home, think of ways to keep them occupied while you get things done.
It will be a struggle in the beginning but as soon as your kids or spouse realize how serious you are about it, you’re on your way to a better mental space to deliver on your work. Here are some ideas on how to help your kids deal with the Covid-19 outbreak.
5. Take That 20-Minute Break
Think of it as tea time, beer o’clock, or just time for watercooler talk. When your mind starts to wander and you feel like you’re not mentally there to do your work, my advice is to take that 20-minute break. Sitting there with a blank mind is not going to take you anywhere.
Listen to some relaxing music, meditate, flex your yoga mantle, dance, paint, play your guitar/piano, take a power nap, enjoy a glass of wine, or flip through your recipe books. Whatever takes your mind to a wistful, less stressful place - go there, do that!
This way, you’ll be drawing a clear line between work and your personal life. It is much needed when you’re working from home. It helps to keep your immune system in check while juggling both work and home at the same time.
And remember, your mental health and your family needs you to remain cool as a cucumber despite the new arrangements.
“People who are happier are approximately 12% more productive. In fact, it shows that the happier we are, the harder we work” - University of Warwick
6. Keeping it Professional
It’s almost inevitable. You must have seen the hilarious viral video of a news reporter who was broadcasting LIVE from home when his kids came running into the room candidly. It brought a knowing smile to most of us who have been working from home because it’s an insider moment we can relate easily to.
But still, we need to be professional about deadlines, timelines, goals, directions, objectives, profits, bills, manpower, etc.
Use apps to keep yourself in the loop and designate a check-in time for updates because checking it all the time is not a good idea either.
When you’re at work, you’re working. When you’re with your family, have fun with them.
The Senior Career Specialist of Remote.co, Brie Reynolds, believes that millennial moms who grew up with technology from day to day have mastered the art of communicating from a distance. And they’re often well-prepared to perform incredibly well under the most confusing of circumstances.
Some of these highly-effective remote workers have gone on to climb corporate ladders ahead of their full-time counterparts and peers.
“...it’s important to work intensely and distraction-free for a period of time, but equally critical to take regular renewal breaks to recover from that intense work period” - Tony Schwartz, author of The Way We're Working Isn't Working
7. Being Understanding about Restraints but Firm with Goals
Having Flexi hours means you have almost complete control over your time, except for those moments when your boss or co-workers need to speak to you or have an online conference with you unannounced.
That’s the reason you need a structure. A viable one.
In this current situation where everyone is having trouble with work-life balance during the Coronavirus pandemic, have a little sympathy.
Things happen. People get sick. They feel overwhelmed and confused. They’re scared and anxious for their loved ones. Unexpected situations may strike out of the blue.
It pays to be understanding and flexible about that work structure too. As long as the employee can commit to a certain number of hours or come up with alternative arrangements, we should be OK with all that.
We, after all, have no other choice right now than to break out of the traditional 40-hour, nine-to-five workweek schedule.
We understand that life can be tough right now, what with everyone having to walk on eggshells everywhere we go.
Looking on the bright side, the Coronavirus pandemic has changed the whole world, including the business landscape and workforce norms.
Don’t forget, of course, to have some fun with your virtual team members. Yes, it can be done! Learn from experts who have been at it since the dawn of the internet.
"During my first few weeks at HubSpot as a net-new remote employee, I invited most team members to virtual lunch," Kate Reed, Senior Customer Success Manager, New Orleans
Back to the current situation we’re in, we would like to remind everyone to keep safe, stay home as much as we can, wash your hands, sanitize, and keep a positive mindset!
Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for more goodies and fun stuff coming your way this year. It will brighten up your day! And if you’re on social media, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Stay safe and be happy!
*** *** ***
We hope you had some takeaways from the article above and it helped you find that work-life balance you need during the Circuit Breaker. We feel you. Reach out to the people you love, be it your family members or friends to have a good catch-up using regularly. Know that although the world is a little uncertain right now, we’re going to be OK.
You can stay connected to us by signing up for our Newsletter on our website right here, or hit the like/follow button on our Facebook or Instagram. We’ll keep you updated with the latest updates with the latest tips and news delivered right to your inbox or social media feed.
Stay safe and healthy.