As region after region reels from the impact of the Corona Virus, employers are encouraging their teams to practice self-isolation and adapt virtual alternatives to onsite productivity. For remote workers, there is nothing new in social distancing. But for the newly initiated, learning to work from home without getting stressed out is proving to be a challenge. At Xperti, we offer some simple, practical advice on getting started from the technology professionals who’ve mastered their WFH as a shield against the Corona Virus pandemic.
Surprising as it may seem, work from home has its detractors! And the arguments are well-founded: Managers cite domestic distractions, the inability to maintain work-life balance, and practical hiccups like connectivity and clashing time-zones as the reasons adapting to a work from home routine is more trouble than it’s worth.
But is that really the case?
Studies show that employees who work from home are more productive, experience better morale and focus. At a time when self-isolation is being so strongly advocated, the choice to work from home is in fact a socially responsible decision.
Working from home offers wins on both sides: No time lost in commuting. No daycare expenses. Flexible meals and breaks. And the ability to balance responsibilities instead of juggling them.
With that said, otherwise productive, dedicated employees still face problems when setting up at home. And we’re here to help!
Hiring managers and top technology talent both report to Xperti that the number one cause of stress during their WFH routines is the lack of visibility. Ergo, Item #1 on your WFH to-do list is: Develop a disciplined schedule and stick to it.
While it’s true that work from home offers more flexibility, there’s a difference between flexibility and chaos. Schedules don’t have to be rigid, but they must be orderly. Don’t stop preparing breakfast on time just because no one needs to be driven to school or you don’t have to beat the 8 AM crowd. Skip the makeup and heels but get dressed. Sticking to some old rituals sends a signal to your subconscious to take this new routine seriously.
If you’re a manager overseeing a technology project, lack of visibility can trigger stress many times over. Identify goals and targets preemptively. These should be communicated to teams beforehand. Once you’ve set these measurable goals, assign a daily checkpoint, in which teams can discuss updates, any problems they’ve come across and/or new ideas that can be addressed in the coming week. We’re very lucky that as technology professionals, we’re already on top of most virtual tools, which makes self-isolation that much less isolated.
By the way, we’re not just referring to communication tools. Every team that needs to work from home needs project management software, spreadsheets and repositories to make the flow of information transparent and timely.
One of the most frequent “anti” work from home concerns we hear is that the self-isolation isn’t just about healthy social distancing. It’s making people lonely.
We understand how upsetting this can be. At Xperti, we emphasize a strong sense of community. That’s why we’ve created an opportunity for technology professionals to be part of a community of elite technology talent.
One way of breaking the ‘isolation’ from self-isolation is to be proactive in unusual ways. Just because (thanks to the Corona Virus) there aren’t any ‘office birthdays’ with candles and cake, doesn’t mean you can’t send over an e-greeting card, or organize a surprise Zoom Party. (It’s a thing, really)!
What would you be talking about if there hadn’t been work and COVID-19? Trade funny stories about home. Make post-social-distancing plans. Dropping by with a virtual hello is good for your colleagues and for you.
For parents with young children, the struggle to focus in a work from home situation is real. Keeping an eye on an active, curious toddler is hard enough. To that, add cleaning and feeding schedules, breaking up sibling squabbles and struggling to keep the noise down in a meeting as your six-year-old discovers a new nursery rhyme, and plays it on full blast.
As one scholar put it, due to the Corona Virus, “We’re all BBC Dad now.”
Allocating a dedicated workspace is important because it sets healthy boundaries not just for yourself, but those around you. Seeing Dad or Mom at “The Desk” is the unspoken “Do Not Disturb” sign you need to get work done.
It’s helpful in adding more ‘life’ to your work life balance. No more documents strewn on the kitchen counter, no more reaching out for your iPad on the dining table. Work is at the workstation now.
While self-isolation is still voluntary in the USA, there are regions where governments have imposed lockdowns and entire communities are under quarantine. Use your relative personal freedom responsibly. Don’t do panic buying, but stock up on items your family frequently needs so that emergency trips to the store don’t interfere with your work routine. Having said that, also regular prepare data and power backups, make sure your devices are charged and nothing overruns.
Life under the Corona Virus shadow is intimidating. It needn’t be. As we settle into our work from home routines, let’s remember this was a privilege we dreamt of with every late night at the office and every weekend spent in our cubicles.
Make sure you truly enjoy being surrounded by your loved ones. Compartmentalize work worries to focus on family during family time. Recognize that in these times, having fun is important.
We sincerely hope that we flatten the curve as soon as possible. Even so, there have been lessons in this Corona Virus scare that leave much in their wake: It’s time to popularize remote work, even without the threat of a pandemic. It’s time to acknowledge that work and life aren’t options to be juggled, but strengths that enrich each other every day.
Nayyara Rahman is a management and technology professional with a focus on digital services. Her work in integrating marketing and technology is aimed at making organizations more efficient, accountable and transparent. She is also an award-winning author and researcher whose contribution has been acknowledged on several prestigious international forums.
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