Amid the coronavirus outbreak, things have changed around the globe, and they seemingly changed overnight. One minute we were laying out clothes for the next day at the office and the other we got collectively struck by a WFH requisition. Once mandatory remote work was rolled out around the globe, we knew it was serious. At the time (and this was barely a month ago), not everyone had a lot of or any experience working from home, but we knew we'd have to adjust and adjust fast.
In response to company closures, travel bans, and recommendations to keep our distance from each other to limit the spread of COVID-19, digital tools and platforms have grown to be our reality more than ever before. Organizing our lives in limited spaces has quickly become overwhelmingly challenging, but there was no backing out.
To be able to operate effectively, we had to learn how to transform parts of our homes into functional places of work, in a condition no one’s ever faced before. Proper organization imposed itself as an imperative to staying sane, so – we're sharing useful tips to staying productive while working from home indefinitely.
Be Prepared for Misunderstandings
Sensitive times require sensitive measures, and we can't think of any situation more sensitive than CORONA-19.
People are getting anxious and frustrated and it's taking a toll on their everyday moods, performance, their relationships, the tone they speak in with their colleagues and everything else in between. If you are calm and not as affected by COVID-19 circumstances, don't think other people are calm, too. Be compassionate and understanding and know there'll be times when you'll have to give it your all to cool down and not take things personally.
Anxiety and fear in people are emphasized right now, and they still haven’t reached the peak yet. So, be prepared for a lot of misunderstandings, touchy spots and miscommunication. It's all part of working from home during COVID-19.
Find a Dedicated Place of Work
Working from home in general, let alone in an extremely vulnerable situation like COVID-19, can be unexpectedly distracting. If you are not checking group chats and portals for the latest COVID-19 information, you are either aimlessly going through TV channels or suddenly getting the urge to cook, clean, re-organize your wardrobe or God-knows-what-else. Hey, we've all been there, and we get it. But, this is not the time to abandon discipline – not only because such behavior can affect your performance at work but also because it can seriously affect your mental wellbeing as well.
Naturally, your company understands the situation you are in (because they, too, are in it with you) but you still need to deliver results. So, to avoid getting even more stressed by being called out on poor performance, find a dedicated place in your house to work from, and stick to it. During your office hours, pretend you are at work; sit at your desk and focus on your tasks. You may not follow through a 100% but you will at least 70% which is, in this scenario, more than great.
Change Your Clothes and Show Up
Lounging around in your pyjamas as you work your day off may sound like a dream come true, but only until it turns into your worst nightmare. While comfy clothes are and should be the benefit of working from home - if you want to stay productive, try not to get too comfortable.
Treat your WFH quarantine time like a real job – take a shower and get dressed for it! Make your bed and get up at a time you usually would for office. Put your phone on silent during work hours and leave it in a bag. Otherwise, you'll be checking it every few minutes, and your workday will leak with no positive results. Don't abandon your everyday routine just because you are quarantined. Your going out span may be limited, but your indoors activities shouldn't be.
Having a structure while working from home is essential because if you don't – you can quickly fall into your own commodity trap. To function properly, you need to "know" there is a home to "go back to after work" even if you are not leaving the house at all. Leave your dedicated place of work at 5 pm (see the paragraph above) and put your pyjamas back on like God commands.
If you don't live alone, you need to create some boundaries within your home as soon as possible.
Assuming you don't have a home office, turn a bedroom into your office space. Have a conversation with your housemates to explain the severity of the situation. Communicate that a closed door means you are not available, and ask not to be disturbed during office hours.
In case there isn't a room available for you to go to, dedicating a corner of your living room to yourself can work, too. This is when you need to stress the boundaries with your family members even harder and help them understand how important it is for you to stay focused.
Couples that both work from home can even create a home office together and turn a stressful situation into a fun venture.
NOTE: Creating boundaries goes both for your family members and yourself. Many cite the inability to unplug after work as a major disadvantage of WFH. So, be disciplined through your 8 hours so you can bookend your day when you should.
Crank up the Communication
Coronavirus or not, having open, clear communication with your teammates and your boss are the key to successful working from home.
Normally, working in an office means being in close proximity with your colleagues and superiors, meaning communication is a) easy b) clear and d) effortless. Misunderstandings are handled on the spot, and the immediateness of response is unquestionable. Unfortunately, online communication is, for the majority of time, everything but that - so, it's up to you to structure it up.
If you managers haven't proposed it themselves, ask them for a 5-minute call to kick off the day. When things need clearing up, give your colleague(s) quick calls for consultations rather than type endlessly. What is more, with COVID-19 tailoring our everyday, working from home can feel isolating more than ever – so, turn your mic and camera on and wave to your colleagues through Zoom, Slack, Skype or any other app your office uses to make communication closer, warmer and richer.
Don't Abandon Your External Projects
Private projects have been dropping like flies, the latest business reports say. Freelancers have been the first one to take the hit, as most projects are either being put on hold or entirely cancelled. The panic is real as marketers can't predict what's the next thing to happen with COVID-19. Luckily, not every business is giving up; some are taking this situation as an uncomfortable lesson that needs to be stormed out and learned from.
If you are working independently on your own projects or are paired with businesses that haven't still given up, use this time to learn to work in strange circumstances and strengthen your resilience. Continue showing up with quality and have no doubt it'll pay off. Plus, there’s more unlocked online content than ever, so use it to learn everything you didn’t have the opportunity to learn before.
It's Your Turn
The COVID-19 situation took everyone by surprise; if you are struggling and your performance is dropping, know you are not the only one. It’s expected and normal, and you’ll get back on your feet quicker than you think - all it takes is a little bit of structure, and you are golden.
We hope things are working out, and you are finding ways to do right by you. Aside from the advice we've shared in the paragraphs above, we hope to hear some from you – there's no such thing as too much helpful advice for working from home. Please share and stay composed – we'll get through this.