The switch from office to working from home
It’s expected that more employees will be self-isolating since the rise of the Covid-19 virus and let’s face it working from home seems a logical and sensible precaution if you can do so, but what if you have never worked from home before? This may be through choice or necessity but how prepared mentally to make the switch from office to home are you?
During my career, and some years ago as I have left the corporate world, I was fortunate enough to be able to do both. I believe working from home requires a psychological shift if it is to be effective and productive. In corporate I found office working to be a “bums on seats” mentally that prevailed – a micro-management experience; where one is watched over and nudged along for productivity. At home it was a paradigm shift. You may need some new rules to make you productive.
Perhaps not everyone has the desire, but I hold a belief that it’s possible to create a productive environment at home just by following a few simple rules.
You should be staying on top of any projects you have to work on and communicating with your team. It’s really not that difficult to tell when someone is supposed to be working from home, but they aren’t doing anything. Even if it doesn’t come to light that day, eventually the gap in your deliverables will be obvious. You want to make sure you don’t abuse your company’s work from home policy. If you do, you risk yourself and others losing this privilege. You don’t have to be glued to your computer screen all day, just keep in mind to be as responsive as you would if you were in the office. Being contactable by management is seen as important. Out of sight but not mind.
It’s quite easy to be distracted at home I hear a lot, but I didn’t find that myself. In fact, it was the opposite. Being able to sit and concentrate on one task at a time without being distracted by work colleagues actually improved my productivity. In the office you might be clock watching for the end of the day, yet at home one becomes so immersed in work that time becomes second to it. However, you should still manage your time (check out another one of my blogs How can you use your time more effectively for the detail).
If you haven’t one already, I would recommend a space at home that becomes your office area. This is where you work. In contrast the rest of your home becomes the place you rest. Separate these two domains. The reasoning is that by distinguishing the two apart will help you know when you meant to be working and when not. Your office space is “at work”.
Understanding your organisation’s culture is critical to your success. If most of my organisation is in the office and I work from home, it would be up to me to make the extra effort to stay connected. If you’re close enough, consider going into the office one or two days a week. I did this myself and worked from two offices with different sets of colleagues.
Setting yourself up for the day with an early morning run or visit to the gym certainly helps the mind settle into work mode when you arrive back home I found.
Plan and structure your workday just as you would in the work office. This helps meeting targets.
Schedule time for frequent breaks throughout the day. Rise from your desk, stretch or walk around the house or down the street. Take a lunch break and enjoy a midday meal.
If you feel lonely working from home don’t forget the coffee shop. There’s nothing better than having the freedom to take your laptop out for an occasional spin down to the local. Just having people around helps dampen those moody feelings.
What you do at home in your workspace is primarily about productivity. If you are productive daily, you just must be doing it right.
I would imagine that by the time you are reading this the directive as to when and how often we work from home may have changed further. Stay safe.
What are your thoughts on working from home? Do you prefer the office, home or a mixed environment? Where do you find you are most productive?
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