To help stop the spreading of the COVID-19, we were asked to stay at home and limit our social interactions to an absolute minimum. Moving operations to employees’ homes might be challenging as this does not come without its complications.
Home office can be great: no time wasted on commuting, a chance to work uninterrupted on projects, and a change of environment. However, not having access to physical tools and infrastructure is one obvious challenge. You might struggle even if you have everything you need. It can be hard to stay focused, it can be difficult to separate work from free time, and it can be challenging to maintain relationships.
How do we stay productive? How do we keep a healthy work-life balance? How do we maintain communication? Here are some tips to consider.
Get essential equipments
Take the time now to do an inventory to make sure you have the minimum equipment needed for your space, and maybe more, if possible. The essential equipment you need is a desk or table to place your computer on, chair, phone, Wi-Fi or direct Internet connection, ability to access work applications, functional lighting to work on the computer, and for video calls.
Communicate clearly and unambiguously
This is always important, but now it is crucial, as you do not have the option to simply turn to your colleague and clarify something right away. If something needs to be done, ask for it directly and give clear guidelines. If a request comes to multiple team members, let the others know right away if you will pick it up. Agree on the terminology, and stick to it in your discussions. Clear and unambiguous communication will save you a lot of time and spare you the frustration.
Keep your calendar up to date
Your colleagues need to know how you organize your time. Keeping your calendar up to date is definitely a good idea. Your scheduled meetings and calls are probably already there, but you might consider adding time blocks for tasks you are working on, especially if you prefer not to be interrupted during that time. That way your team members know what project is currently taking your time. You might also want to mark the time when you are planning to stop working, because many of us adapt a slightly different timetable in home office. This will help you separate work from home.
Use productivity apps and methods
If you find it hard to concentrate, try out different productivity apps and methods. When thinking about apps that’ll work well for you, remember that the best organization apps or best reminder apps are only the “best” if they help you, in your specific case, to do the right work in a way that consistently works well for you.
Write a short to-do list and even trim that down
Keeping your tasks organized is extremely helpful, so start your day by listing the goals you want to achieve. Prioritize them and if necessary, move some of them to the next day. A concise to-do list will help you focus on your tasks. It is always possible to start working on postponed tasks once you have reached your goal.
When setting up your home office, consider the need to reduce noise or visual distractions from dogs, kids, TV, and other family members. That's why it is essential to have a room with a door you can close to have as much privacy as possible so you can focus on your work. If you do not have access to a room with a door, then set up an area in the house that is off-limits to others for a few hours a day.
Set yourself up for work
When your work place is also where you spend your free time, separating the two can be difficult. You should keep in mind that remote work is still work: set an alarm, wear clothes, and arrange yourself a relatively quiet spot (a separate room is ideal, but a luxury not everyone has) where you can sit comfortably through the day. Wear noise-canceling headphones to block out distractions.
The current turmoil is not a typical home office situation; many of us have children to look after now that the schools are closed, and we do not necessarily want to go out for a nice, refreshing walk during our lunch break. It is going to take some creativity, flexibility and empathy to make sure we all stay on board and connected.