Working From Home Amid Covid-19

The sudden outbreak of the Covid-19 virus has forced many organizations to implement remote working strategies, obliging many people to adapt very quickly to full-time remote working. For many businesses worldwide, it is a mandate, and thousands — if not millions — of people are facing a steep learning curve.

I thought I had achieved my dream when I was able to start working from home in 2011. But after working in a very busy office environment, I soon realized that doing it right required many things, including the right mindset. To help ease the transition for those forced to work from home, I thought I would share the following areas that proved to be a concern for me — and how I worked through them.

Technology. Ensuring you have the correct tools in order to work from home is a must. Do you have hardware in place that is acceptable for company work, items such as a laptop or home computer, mobile or home line? Every tool that will enable you to work effectively from home will require a fast and reliable internet connect, email, access to the company VPN (virtual private network) and collaboration tools.

Creating your workspace. Not everyone is fortunate to have a separate room that can be a dedicated home office; however, try to find some area within your home where you can close the door and keep business in and family, friends, roommates and pets out. During these times, colleagues should be understanding of interruptions, but they still can wreak havoc on your concentration and productivity, so finding such a suitable space is vital, even if it’s in the corner of your bedroom.

And while you’re at it, keep comfort in mind. Health and wellbeing provider BHSF found that 37% of home workers reported suffering new back pain since working from home. And beyond that, employment and health and safety laws in the UK, for example, do not differentiate between workers according to whether they work in an office or at home. Hence, it’s important to seek help or guidance from your employer about how to set up your workstation at home.

MORE: Covid-19 Resource Center – Live links, general information and more, updated daily

Working day structure. It’s easy to fall into the trap of staying “on” now that you’re working from home. This is especially true if your workspace is not in a separate area of your home. While the beauty of remote work is not having to adhere to the 9-to-5, do set limits for yourself. You’ll find a natural rhythm to your day and when you’re at your most effective. And for other times, turn off your ringer. Close your laptop. You need the downtime, too.

Reclaim time. There’s no doubt that avoiding the morning/evening commute is a great advantage when thinking about working from home. Invest that time in doing something positive for yourself. And maybe spend some of that reclaimed commuting time on physical activities like yoga, high impact exercise or even meditation. There’s surely an online tutorial to help guide you. I hear even housework is considered as exercise!

Nutrition & take a break. If the current news reportings are anything to go by, it wouldn’t take much to send society feral, and it can sometimes feel this way working from home. Don’t bypass breakfast, lunch and dinner and binge on biscuits and coffee (although that could be just me). Try forward planning healthy meals and take the time to enjoy your meals away from your desk.

Communication. For those that know me communication is my thing, so when deciding for family reasons that I needed to work from home it was highly important I made the extra effort to continue to feel present and available to my colleagues. Most organizations will have readily available communication tools available — Zoom, Skype just to name a few — which are great; however, as a colleague once said to me, “pick up the phone and call.” Be proactive about reaching out to others. Communication, just staying in touch, is key.

Keep it professional. If I was paid each time someone commented that I can lounge around in my PJ’s while working from home, well, I don’t think I would need to work at all. In essence to make homeworking a success, I find that getting in the right frame of mind really aids general wellbeing and productivity. And that starts with dressing the part, so my best advice is to embrace a professional look not just when you are on video .

Enjoy it! A study from Ambius (via Workplace Insights) found that UK office workers spend an alarmingly limited amount of time outdoors each day, that almost 40% spend a maximum of just 15 minutes outside. This is even less than prisoners, who require “at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily,” according to UN guidelines. If you’re not currently self-isolating or on a mandated lockdown due to Covid-19, stepping away from the computer and getting outside out for some fresh air, especially during these anxious times, will do your wellbeing no end of good.

Francesca Profeta

Francesca Profeta
Francesca Profeta, CCWP, is a research analyst at Staffing Industry Analysts She can be reached at fprofeta (at) staffingindustry (dot) com

Francesca Profeta

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