Amid the COVID19 threat, employees globally have been asked to work from their own nests. Here are a few tips from someone who’s been doing it for a year.
Okay, so you've been asked to work from home. And your first reaction is similar to that of a little toddler being set free in an amusement park. You think you're on holiday. Till of course, it dawns on you that work from home is exactly what the name suggests - you have to work. From home.
And suddenly, shit hits the ceiling. Because your carefully manicured life isn't equipped for this. You're used to an 'office', and colleagues and god-awful coffee and cigarette breaks and meetings that are more often than not, useless and banter.
So you think to yourself, it's just for a couple of weeks - you can wing it. You get your laptop to your bed, get your cup of coffee, and get to it. But because you're at home, you're easily distracted. You Netflix a little (what harm can that do?), you pour yourself a beer (work from home is awesome), you take a little nap (you could get used to this). Till you realize that your output is basically shit, and you're not really working. You're using this as an excuse to chill.
So here's the rub, my friends. (Not that anyone asked), but my golden, silver, and platinum rules for working from home, in no particular order.
Lying down and working is going to send you to hospital - The bed is great for many things. Working however, is not one of them. So get yourself out of your bed, in the exact fashion as you would have, had you been going to office. Either build yourself a temporary work space, or use the dining table. Find yourself a comfortable chair with lumbar support. If you don't have one, buy one - it's not expensive. This chair will be your best friend in the weeks to come.
Pretty up the place - Remember all the times you used to bitch about your office space looking like death? Well, here's your chance to make your space look pretty. And while there's no rule on how a work space should look, plants are always nice. Get yourself a lamp, a pen stand, maybe a couple of coasters. It should look warm and inviting. You should want to sit in this space for close to eight hours in a day.
Be accessible during work hours - Which means your phone has no business being on silent, or worse, off. You need to be online, you need to respond as quickly as you would have, had you been at office. Lunch breaks can be slightly longer. Enjoy a leisurely lunch, watch an episode of The Office, but come back. The world needs you. Or, your office, at any rate.
Eat healthy - This is perhaps the only chance you'll get to give your body some healthy food. Most offices, unless you're working at Google or Facebook, have shit food. So if you have a cook at home, ask her to make you something light and delicious for lunch - maybe a salad, or a fruit bowl, a chicken roll. Look up some quick, healthy meals on the internet.
What if your home is basically a zoo? - Some homes aren't conducive to working. There are kids, parents, in-laws, maids coming in all the time. And nobody understands that if you've been asked to work from home, it doesn't mean you're on holiday and accessible to everyone. So the simplest thing to do in this scenario is work together with a colleague at a house that's quieter. Or, go to office. If everyone's working from home, then the office should be safe for you. Kidding.
Suit up - Okay, don't actually get into a suit, but you get the idea. You can't work wearing boxers and a t shirt. The brain is a funny little thing. If you're dressed to relax, the brain thinks it IS time to relax. As a result, you're going to feel lethargic, sleepy. So get into a pair of jeans, a comfortable T shirt, take a shower preferably, and get to business.
Try and set a basic schedule - Remember how we used to have time tables as kids? Pretty useful tool for work too, as I've realized. Chalk a basic one out - huddle with team at 10 AM, chat with boss at 3PM, see progress report at 5PM - so on and so forth. This will help everyone on your team be on the same page, and set expectations clear.
Invest in a good wifi - Wifi is going to be your best friend, lover, bae all rolled into one during this time. So depending on where you stay, and how big your house is, and which part of the house you're using as your work space, do a bit of research and find out what will give you the best speed for video calls and downloads. A large chunk of your work now will entail downloading presentations and getting on video calls, and you need bandwidth for that.
Just because you're working from home, doesn't mean you're accessible all the time to your colleagues - Just like you're not accessible to your family, you're not accessible to your colleagues too, during non-work hours. So make that clear to them from the start. So if you're asked to work on something (say) post 7PM, tell them it'll be done the next day. Evenings are for yourself.
I'm sure there are a few other things that should go on this list, but it's 8:27 AM now. And I start work at 8:30. So I better get to it. To wrap up, working from home can be a lot of fun, if you do it responsibly.
Stay safe people.
(The author is founder and intern at The Voice Company, an advertising agency.)