During the COVID-19 outbreak, many companies are suggesting—even requiring—that more employees work from home. Not going into the office is an effective way of preventing the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, because it minimises the risk of you coming into contact with someone carrying the disease.
For those who are not used to working at home or who don’t have an organised work station, distractions can disrupt your productivity. After all, you’re in your personal space, not your usual professional environment.
You might think blasting the latest Sungura hit is the most productive way for you to work. Or loud noises could be the worst thing for you to stay focused and get work done. Everybody is different. Regardless of your personal preferences, here are some tips to help you adjust to working from home in the era of social distancing.
1. Designate a workspace
Confine your work space to a specific area in your home so your job doesn’t intrude into the lives of other household members and you can concentrate. Have a space that you designate as your workstation instead of checking emails, voicemails or texting in front of TV or spreading work out on the kitchen table. Make your space a stress-free zone of quiet and solitude where you can concentrate. If you don’t have a separate room, find an area with minimum traffic flow or a corner of a room off from the main area.
2. Stay connected with colleagues
Online tools like Slack not only help workflow but can also serve as social outlets. It’s even better to actually speak to another human being, so make some phone calls to check in with people. Teleconferences add another sensory element to your interactions. Experts say video conferencing while working from home helps fight isolation while enhancing team unity and productivity.
3. Discourage personal intrusions
If you’re a teacher or doctor, friends don’t just stop by the office to chat, hang-out or interrupt your work. But sometimes well-intended friends, family members and neighbors think working at home is different. Interruptions and drop-ins can cause you to lose your focus, procrastinate or get behind on a deadline. It’s important to prevent intrusions into your work space by informing others that although the location of your job has changed, it is no different from any other profession requiring privacy and concentration. Notify others that during at-home work hours you’re unavailable and cannot be interrupted. And let them know the after hours when you’re available to connect.
4. Remember to switch off
At the end of the workday, stop working. After a reasonable day’s work, put away your electronic devices and work tools just as you would store carpentry tools after building shelves or baking ingredients after making a cake. Keeping work reminders out of sight keeps them out of mind and helps you relax and recharge your batteries.
5. Avoid cabin fever
Now that you’re spending a disproportionate amount of time at home, get outside as much as possible with gardening or walking around the block. Research shows that spending time in nature lowers stress, helps you relax and clears your mind. After work hours, enjoy other areas of your home: watching a good movie, reading a book, or cooking a fun meal. And lead as much of a full social life as possible such as having non-symptomatic friends over for dinner. The new normal is not to limit social devices but to take advantage of them. Use Facetime, Facebook or Skype with friends and family members so you feel connected to the people in your life that you care about.
The bottom line
If you’re new to working remotely 100% of the time, this could be a significant adjustment. You may not have been prepared to turn your living space into your workspace for the foreseeable future. Suddenly that spare bedroom, dining room, kitchen, or closet has turned into a home office, and you find yourself leading conference calls in your new uniform—a robe and pajamas.
Your best ally is to find the opportunity in the difficulty during an uncontrollable situation instead of the difficulty in the opportunity. Take advantage of this restrictive time to clear clutter out of your basement, pull weeds in the garden or get caught up on fun hobbies you’ve neglected for a while.