When life gives you lemons…

The battle between working from home and being at home.

“I can’t wait to get home.”

 I’m sure many of you have said that during a long day at work- I definitely know I have but what about when you say that sentence and you’re already at home; what do you do then?

So it has been 5 weeks since the DataU team have been working from home and boy has it been a rollercoaster of emotions; some days I think I got it and others I’m like…”I’m not a celebrity but get me out of here.” I suppose we now know how animals in zoos feel – but that’s another topic of conversation.

Millions of us around our mighty globe have been forced to stay indoors and become accustomed to a new routine, whether that be a marathon of Netflix binging, homeschooling your children, reading or all of the above. For many of us, this is a completely new realm to deal with and it has taken me a little time to adjust and I am someone who enjoys their own company (well that’s what I thought).

For those of you who are working from home, which is probably most of you – how are you dealing with maintaining employee productivity but more importantly how are you switching off? The lines between office time and home time can be blurry, I found this to be the case for the first few weeks – only now at week 5 am I finding a balance and actually enjoying my new normality. Like many, my main concern was, am I doing enough? Have I responded to every message, am I available for every phone call? Have  I got time to go to the bathroom – no joke, I felt guilty for having lunch or moving away from my laptop – the struggle was real. 

Harvard Business School research suggests; that workers often unintentionally make it hard for their supervisors, colleagues, and employees to maintain boundaries. This could be by sending work emails outside of office hours. In five studies involving more than 2,000 working adults,they found that senders of after-hours work emails underestimate how compelled receivers feel to respond right away, even when such emails are not urgent. I feel like I have worked harder at home than I did in the office (but I kinda knew that anyway).

So what do we do about it and what can help us through this unprecedented time?

At DataU we encourage all our trainees to set boundaries between work and home life – yes this may be difficult when you have a deadline but it’s important to have a break as burnout is inevitable if we continue to work at this rate, I should know it’s happened before and it wasn’t a pretty site.

To help here are 10 top Top tips for an effective WFH routine:

  1. Set a routine

Setting a time/routine is extremely important. This will allow you to know when you are working and when it’s time to pack up and revert to home life. One of the benefits of working from home is the advantage of flexibility so if you are in the middle of something and you’re in a groove, work through it.  

I started using the https://clockify.me/ which gave me a free 7 day trial – it tracks how productive you are in the day/week.

  1. Find a suitable studying environment. 

This can be extremely difficult if you have a house full of people. But if you can try and make a spot in the house (preferably not your bed).

Find a nice, quiet place with a large, comfortable chair, like your sitting room, preferably without a television, a computer or a mobile phone within your reach and try staying away from social media. 

  1. Take short breaks. After 60-90 minutes of studying, take a 15 minute break and do something different. Try to get back to your studying after the break; the break shouldn’t be longer than 15 minutes.
  • Plan your breaks out with alarms. If your break is planned, you’re less likely to miss them in the first place, and more importantly, less likely to “accidentally” take more time than is needed.
  • Why take breaks? Your brain needs time to recharge after it processes a bunch of information. In some studies, taking a break and walking around improved memory recall.
  1. Get Motivated. Set a goal for yourself, even if it’s a bit unrealistic. Push yourself to do better than what you think you can do, and who knows, maybe you’ll surprise yourself. Motivate yourself with a reward. Give yourself a reward if you complete a task. 
  1. Socialise With Colleagues

Loneliness, disconnect, and isolation are common problems in remote work life, especially for extroverts. Companies with a remote work culture usually offer ways to socialise. 

  1. “Show Up” to Meetings and Be Heard

If you’ve not been on a video call yet then are you actually WFH. Be sure to speak up during the meeting so everyone knows you’re on the call. A simple, “Thanks, everyone. Bye!” at the close of a meeting will go a long way toward making your presence known.

  1. Over Communicate

Working remotely requires you to over communicate. Tell everyone who needs to know about your schedule and availability often. When you finish a project or important task, say so. Over Communicating doesn’t necessarily mean you have to write a five-paragraph essay to explain your every move, but it does mean repeating yourself. Joke about how you must have mentioned your upcoming holiday six times already, then mention it again.

  1. Be Aware of miscommunication

My husband always jokes with me that I am blunt and straight to the point in a text message. Short and sweet messages can be misinterpreted especially if you’re not seeing them face to face. So ensure that all messages are answered and your reply is overly positive. This will ensure staff motivation as who doesn’t like praise.

  1. Take advantage of your new work environment.

Working from home means you have more flexibility in your routine, so if you fancy taking a walk in your lunch break – do it. If you fancy making some protein flapjacks – do it. How many times have you said, if I was working from home I would have done….x, y and z. Now this is the time.

  1. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Like I said before, working at home is extremely difficult, especially if you’ve never done it before. You have to be disciplined in order to complete tasks. Some days you may feel less motivated than other days and that’s ok – it’s normal. So remember to not beat yourself up about it and remember you can be flexible in your working day.

What I have realised during my time at home is how resilient and adaptable human beings are. Who would have thought that 6 weeks ago we would all be working from home, teaching, making business deals, cooking and working out all from our living rooms. I have also realised that we’re all in it together and somehow that makes me strong and ready to face the challenges yet to come.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”  Charles Darwin

By Faria Arshad

Source: Harvard Business Review