Five tips for employees who are working from home during the coronavirus outbreak.
Michael my friend, who works in a bank, told me that he has been guided to work from home by his employer. He mentioned it’s a sudden change. His anxiety increased as for years, he has been working from the office. Are you also anxious, worried and tensed about working from home? Don’t worry, I have 5 tips for you. Please try this and let me know if it helps you to reduce your stress and anxiety of working from home.
Here are 5 my recommendations:
1. Know your goals.
A goal defines the means”, there is a saying. Your clients and your line of the business head (the person who pays for your job) have very clear expectations of your deliverables. Measurable deliverables that have quality.
For example, If I say, “I want to lose some weight this month” vs “ I want to lose 2 Kilo weight this month”. Which goal is more clear and achievable?
Are you very clear about your measurable deliverables? If yes, your job is half done. If not, I recommend you to set up a time with your boss and understand your goals. Understanding of goals will help you stay focused, aligned to your business and help your clients.
2. Be aware of time, it’s limited.
There are only 24 hours in a day. When you work from home, organizing and managing time can become challenging. For example, you might feel that you are working long hours. Your meeting is at the same time when your kid wants you to help him to do homework. You are getting tired because you are spending more time on the phone, to fill for office breaks and coffee table chat.
Being aware and arranging time in buckets will help you. Thinking, meetings and e-mails are three key tasks that you do to get your job done. Look at your calendar and measure what percentage of your 8 hours office time is needed for each of these tasks. Look at your next week's calendar now. Do you see time for these three tasks blocked there? If not, start blocking your calendar time with yourself. And yes, keep buffer of 5 mins between tasks so that you are taking required breaks.
This discipline will keep you away from distractions. Help you to be aware of the tasks where you are spending time.
3. Write more, to communicate, to stay connected.
Working from home might give you the feeling that you are working from “an island”. An island where you are not seeing your office colleagues and clients in person, you are not doing table talk for making quick decisions or not saying hello to anyone at the coffee break out area. Don’t worry, your colleagues, clients and people whom you use to meet at the coffee breakout area are also feeling the same loneliness. Remember the “castaway” movie?
Writing more solves this problem. Writing emails with actionable outcomes intent helps you take quick decisions. Writing text messages to clients and colleagues helps your relationship stay warm and help them. Writing the right questions in WhatsApp, slack or social community groups will help you to get answers quickly. Writing more will help you with outreach and stay connected.
Are you blocking recursive time in your calendar to write enough? Are you sending consistent text beacon to clients and colleagues who are on another island?
Your island is well connected, digitally.
4. Use the right tool, explore the right app.
Tools are invented to work efficiently. Remember, wheel? Working from home might require new types of tools and applications to make you efficient. For example, if you are now writing more e-mails, messages or responses in social groups, it will consume more time. If your job requires reading lots of texts, documents or emails, reading might make your eyes tired.
Consistent exploration of the right tools and application to complete your work will help you to be efficient while working from home. For example, the use of a voice-to-text tool like Siri, Cortana, etc. will reduce your writing time drastically. Using a text-to-voice tool will make you efficient in reading Long documents or messages. Text to voice tool also reduces stress on your eyes because of Long exposure to screen time. The camera on the phone is a great tool too. I have observed that receiving a video recorded message of 1 min is tremendously efficient than reading text messages for 5 mins. “Single sign-on” can save up to 50 hours in a year for just logging Into the device. As per venture beat, here is the list of TOP 10 productivity apps.
Ask yourself, do you have the right tools and apps?
5. Collaborate, but more importantly engage.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, video is worth millions.
Work from home brings the challenge of “engaging” collaboration. Lack of white noise, lack of surroundings visibility and lack of capability to read body language and gestures make collaboration less effective.
The use of audio, visuals, surroundings and gestures simultaneously can solve this problem. Most of the collaboration tools like zoom provide a platform to engage effectively. While the effort by the effort by the tool is to bring remote engagement closets to the real world, a lot depends on you too as how you use these tools. Switching on camera, the distance of yours from the camera, the background that you are using, whether you are standing or sitting when collaborating, the way you are dressed up, all of these factors play an important role in engaging collaboration.
Think of a person with whom you engaged in person. Think of the collaboration with the same person when he/she was working from home. What was missing in engagement? Do you see the gap? This is your answer. In your next collaboration meeting, try to minimize the gap that you observed, I can certainly say, your engagement will become more collaborative. I attended a course by Prezi Training 7 years back on this topic. You can learn more in case needed.
These 5 tips will certainly make you comfortable working from home. I look forward to your further inputs/ comments below. Share your work from home experience.