What is Work From Home
Work from home is becoming increasingly popular all around the world. More individuals want the convenience, comfort, and convenience of not having to commute to work every day. Work is traditionally done in an office. A company’s operations take place in a physical space, and employees conduct work-related duties there. With the advancement of digital transformation, this is changing.
Companies are discovering that many of their employees are no longer restricted by a physical workspace in order to work productively as software capabilities get more complicated and business processes become more reliant on them. Work from home has very efficiently taken over the old school and redundant thought process as we have experienced that digital services or telecommuting can be just as efficient.
COVID-19, the pandemic has been emotionally challenging and psychologically depressing for many people. The shift to this “New Normal” had been sudden and not gradual, making it more unsettling and changing day-to-day life in most unexpected ways. All sections of the workforce including full and part-time employees, their employers, agents, vendors and outbound staff were all derailed while playing a new role to protect themselves and each other in order to prevent further spread of the disease.
Break the Chain
To break the chain and arrest the spread of COVID-19, first of all, the schools and malls were ordered shut down across the country by the government and then due to stringent measures such as full and partial lockdown business establishments started asking their employees to Work From Home (WFH) where possible.
Of course, certain industries like steel and other metal manufacturing plants, mines etc were working under reduced staff as it is a continuous process and cannot be stopped or shifted. However, the office staff of such industries and all other industries such as in tech, customer service, in tele-calling, or if your entire work is on a computer, then for a better and larger interest to stay safe and to keep your near and dear once protected from the onslaught of the pandemic, there was no alternative other than to shift your work station from your office to home.
Work from home presents new challenges
Work from home presents new challenges, in this time of the pandemic, but along with these challenges lies the immense opportunity for new methodologies to emerge. With a positive frame of mind and with a bit of effort, you can stay productive while protecting yourself and your loved ones.
Initially, the WFH initiative was accepted with open arms as it was quite inviting from the largely monotonous life of waking up early, finishing the morning chores then running ahead to take the ride, often missing the breakfast, or munching a mouthful while travelling in the Local or in the Metro, finally going through the same ordeal after eight to ten hours of working heavily at the designated work station of your office.
However, this enthusiasm was to be short-lived. As it became routine, it started to appear more dull and monotonous than the standard set-up. This “New Norm” was becoming boring, as one was confined to its home, and was missing the liberty to meet their colleagues and the freedom to move out and roam with friends. Staying motivated under such circumstances and retaining work-life balance and video conference etiquette were just some of the new challenges being faced.
Working from home is a new concept for most of us. The new arrangement has its own merit and demerit. But to make it enjoyable and inspiring we have to implement certain principles which will go a long way to cut the dullness and bring liveliness and spirit to the surrounding.
Psychologists recommend getting decently dressed for work rather than working in your nightdress and joining those video calls in your Bermudas helps you to beat the morning slackness. More than just keeping up appearances, the freshness of getting dressed up helps to put your brain in work mode.
Often it is said that clothes can affect the wearer’s behaviour. In one such study, participants who wore a blue lab coat performed better in tests of their performance, than the ones without the blue lab coat.
It is not necessary that you have to be in the office dress code, however, it is better to dress as formally as you might for work. The psychology attached to getting dressed for work rings the bells in your brain and your brain gets activated and prepared to let you know it is work time and let’s get organised. Moreover, getting dressed makes you feel more confident and human. It automatically helps to kill the night’s hangover and lethargy.
Vibes can be felt
Certain things though unseen can be felt even from a great distance. The study reveals that while on a conference call or on a remote tele-meeting, one gets a feeling that who is in their casual attire and who is well dressed. This happens as the tone of the person becomes more professional when they are talking formally dressed than in their home dress. Besides, just because we are working from home it does not mean nobody is going to see us. In today’s world, we undergo several video meetings throughout the day.
Getting dressed also applies to some associated tasks as well, such as taking a shower, brushing your hair, putting on a little make-up as you would normally do before moving out for your office. Your appearance goes a long way to boost up your mental frame and makes you ready to jump-start the day.
2.BE YOUR ROUTINE SELF
Remember those not so long ago days before the pandemic, and the start of the WFH phase, when each night before hitting the bed you used to activate your cell phone alarm or your bedside watch alarm to wake you up at the specified time so that you reach your workstation at your office in time.
You have to maintain the same routine and discipline even though you are working from home. Extra sleep will not make you fresh, on the contrary, it will make you more lethargic. Resist the urge to snooze your alarm for another few minutes. Researchers in this subject have concluded that oversleeping can lower your cognitive function just like sleep deprivation can.
Stick to your schedule
While working, stick to your schedule as the one that you would have followed had you been working from your work office. This will make you deliver better and make you more efficient. Taking breaks for tea/ coffee should be as normal as it was earlier. To break the monotony of the home lag you can pick your cell and have a short chat or talk with your colleague and continue with your work with the same zeal and spirit.
Create a digital schedule or jot it down with pen and paper, for ease you may use stick-paper and paste it along with the side panel of your desktop or you may stick it in a visible place. You may also come up with a detailed to-do list that’s broken down into categories based on either time or importance.
Even though you are working from home, nevertheless you are earning your salary. So always stay committed with full dedication towards your work. Working from a remote place does not mean that your contribution or performance will not be assessed or reviewed. Avoid home chores or personal work during official hours. Lack of an office atmosphere will make you more prone to drifting from your work to the social media counters.
Distractions are deadly productivity killers
These types of distractions often turn out to be deadly productivity killers, particularly when there are no colleagues around to pull you back to work. It is much prudent to avoid such misadventure by switching off all notifications in your cell phone or your working laptop or desktop. Sometimes you may also remove your social media extension temporarily while you are working.
You have to work upon the distractions by making some ground rules with your family members. Also at certain times, you have to make them understand that any kind of disturbance will affect your productivity at work. Talking loudly or gossiping with neighbours in and around the vicinity of your working space may invite a lot of disturbance and interruptions. Use of headphones or wearing a hoodie may be of some rescue.
3.DESIGNATE YOUR OFFICE SPACE
Not everyone has a spare room at their disposal nor they have the luxury of large empty vacant space to recreate it into an office at their home, and keeping two machines isn’t always as realistic. I am currently working from home and am writing this blog from the balcony of my condo, which I have converted into a mini office with a small table to house my laptop and a writing pad with a straight chair.
A designated workplace is very important to create an atmosphere of seriousness and dedication. You can cut the disturbance to a large extent because when you are at your designated table a message is automatically being conveyed to the other members of your house including your puppy that now you need no disturbance or distraction now.
Even unknowingly it signals your brain that now you are into a working mode and which helps your brain to know that you are on your routine track. As soon as you’re off the clock and leave your workstation, again the brain receives the impulse and accordingly this helps contribute to better work-life balance. It is like when you enter your workspace it will help you turn “on” the day and get down to work.
The other side
On the flip side, leaving your workspace will also help you turn “off” when you call it a day and fully disengage. That’s why it’s also important not to spread yourself across your home—while it might seem great and motivating to be able to move to your “Drawing Room”, “Guest area” or shifting from desk either to your couch or to bed.
Hopping around your entire house will not cut your boredom per se but will definitely cut your concentration level. If you let your laptop creep into your bedroom space, it makes it all the way harder to keep your work separate from your home life.
Not a suitable work from home the condition.
As far as possible it is pertinent to make your workspace comfortable with a chair you can sit in for eight hours a day and a few decorations. Set your office table in an area with good natural lighting. A large window by the side with greenery often promotes life in the area. A view of trees outside or even a picture of scenery on your wall can help.
All the better, a room with a view of nature has the ability to reduce blood pressure and the circulation of stress hormones, thus, increasing the capacity for directed and improved attention, which enhances the ability to focus.
4.PLAN SCHEDULE AND COMMUNICATE
Working from home or remotely is not as easy as it appears. It is of paramount importance to stay positive in these conditions and for that, it is equally necessary to communicate and keep communicating as much as possible. But First proper planning and scheduling the day’s work is mandatory and often regarded as the starting point.
After planning, talk about your schedule to your colleagues, your upline and your downline to efficiently roll out the day’s work. If meetings are an essential part of your working structure then convey the meeting schedule to the joiners.
These types of initiatives will open up avenues to communicate and the more you communicate the more lively the atmosphere it becomes. It not only helps you be more efficient and your productivity increases but here the emphasis is that if you communicate, and the more you communicate the better you are in charge.
If there’s not much communication, within no time you will find yourself bored and have to pull on the rest of your working hours in the most lonely and dejected circumstances. The other aspect of communication is that the one who needs to know about your schedule and availability might have forgotten. When you finish a project or important task is to convey it again to the people concerned.
Over communicating doesn’t necessarily imply that you have to write a long paragraph to explain your every move, but being repetitive often helps. Some little jokes add flavour to the surroundings and the dull atmosphere. You can talk about how you must have mentioned your upcoming vacation with your would-be six times already, then mention it again to create a laughing moment.
While prioritising your projects you may discuss them with your co-workers and by following this you are engaging all of them so that none feel neglected or out of the office alignment. Try to maintain a meticulously approached connectivity by allowing some in-between small chats to make the working area fresh.be extra careful while communicating with written messages.
Accept challenges on your way
The writing tone in written messages is really difficult to judge and can convey alternative meanings. The more face time you have with people, a far better clarity emerges while an un-intentionally concise message can come off as brusque and ill-tempered.
There might be changes to the plan and some unavoidable changes might crop up suddenly as you go. And that’s perfectly OK. This is a new situation for all and everybody is trying hard to cope with the hidden uncertainties which come to your way un-announced. So make sure to circle back and get started by changing the plan according to the revised requirement. You will also encounter unique challenges as you try to do your job remotely.
Be prepared to take things in your stride with a positive frame of mind and you will see greener avenues in front of you. Otherwise, it will be quite difficult to meet the challenges, and the task will drive you nuts and you will land up frustrated. Communicate with your seniors as often as required. It will lessen your burden to a large extent and increase greatly your satisfaction level, which will let you steer out the day’s work towards the completion of work satisfactorily.
5.LEARN TO CALL IT A DAY
Working from home comes with some inbuilt ills as well. While working at your outdoor office you have a cab waiting for you at a stipulated time, towards the end of your scheduled working hours, or perhaps you will miss your last metro train if you linger on, so you are apt in calling it a day and rush out to catch the last train back home. It is exactly the reverse of the morning commute, a religious routine to follow but gives you enough vitamins to reinvigorate you from the office hangover.
Give yourself something that will signal the end of work and serve as a buffer. For example, set your clock with an alarm to let you know that it is Yoga time and the time to call it a day. Set a desktop to prompt the time for some other activity like watering your home plants or your outdoor garden. When I worked from home, I made it a habit to take my dog for a long walk as soon as I was done for the day.
These types of activities help you to decompress with something physical and fun. My dog would lie in front of the door when it was time to go or would come looking for me if I was taking too long. This created the habit of self-enforcing discipline which enriches your life and energises you to a large extent.
Avoiding cabin fever
Avoiding cabin fever or monotony is a prerequisite towards a healthy work-life balance. Now that you are spending an inordinate amount of time at home, you should take yourself out as much as possible. Walking around the block, cardiopulmonary exercise down the lane or visiting a nearby “Temple” can facilitate to scale back the stress significantly.
A great amount of research and excellent analysis on the subject shows that spending time in nature lowers stress, helps you relax and clears your mind. After work hours, enjoy other fancy areas of your home, like reading a book, watching a good movie, cooking your favourite meal, or hitting your favourite album full- blast.
Lead as much of a full social life as possible such as having social or family friends over for dinner. The call-in this new normal is not to limit your social devices but to take maximum advantage of them. Use Instagram, Facebook, facetime or Skype, with non-symptomatic friends and extended family members so you feel connected to the people in your life that you care about. Connecting with friends and near relatives entertains your mind and oxygenate the cells in your body.
Your behaviour in check
Keep your behaviour in check. A very vital point is to be creative and doesn’t let your new-normal or the suffocation of a confined situation lessen your happiness, productivity and bliss. It is your perspective that will define your success, It will either victimize you or empower you. The choice is completely yours with the steering in your hand. Do not try to stretch things that are out of your reach. It won’t help you look for the upside in a downside situation, rather figure out what you can control and what you can’t.
Take advantage of this restrictive time – A time to give you a space to think otherwise, a kind of a new approach will suddenly embrace you to think out of the box, and such abilities will only come to you when you are relaxed and in a clutter-free mind. Few more out of the way activities like to clear out of your basement, mop the porch, get caught up on your fun hobbies you’ve neglected for a while, or to pull out weeds in the garden.
THE LAST LINE
Making your workplace interesting and comfortable irrespective of whether working from an outdoor office or a home make-shift, is all that matters. This article to a certain extent has highlighted how to make work from home more interesting, particularly when going out otherwise is restricted to a large extent due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
We have already dwelt on that working from home has both advantages and disadvantages, as for some it might work as a blessing in disguise while for others it might turn out to be a curse. It has been a lot more comfortable for many people who had to travel long distances for work, thus saving a lot of valuable time which was otherwise lost in commuting.
Many other hassles like waking up early, finishing the daily chores in a limited time, making breakfast for the remaining lot, etc have considerably helped many toward a better life. It has also been a boon for the employers, as they have saved a great deal on expenses like rentals for premises, huge cuts on electricity bills, cafeteria cost and stationery expenses to name a few. Saving “Time” has led to an increase in productivity in many cases.
However, there are a few cons as well. In many cases working from home has lowered the personal relationship to some extent. Face meetings did add more value and drive results faster, helping to meet the objective profoundly. Besides, the outdoor office atmosphere helps to keep the mental balance and a feeling of freshness by meeting various people across a wide spectrum.
Working from home does not mean staying inside all day long. To make it more interesting and to cut the boredom, people can choose to work in their garden or backyard, wherever makes them feel convenient to work. Moreover, employees are under less stress since they get to decide when to work and when to take a rest with a flexible working schedule.