For some companies, before the COVID-19 crisis, telecommuting was already a reality. For others, the current situation is causing a reorganization of professional activities, now being conducted entirely from home. Telecommuting has its advantages (no travel time or costs, flexible hours, less strict dress code), but no doubt it can also lead to problems altering its effectiveness. It is therefore important to establish boundaries between work and private life.
A few simple tips are enough to make working from home productive and keep everyone motivated.
CREATE AN OFFICE IN YOUR HOME
It is not easy to separate family and professional life when they both take place under the same roof. Working from a dedicated space is the best advice we can give you. Always sit in the same place and arrange it in such a way as to limit the distractions of the home. Do as many of your work-related activities as possible in this location. Also, let your family and friends know the time you will spend at work, to limit interactions that could affect your productivity.
ESTABLISH A SCHEDULE AND STICK TO IT
One of the advantages of working at the office, is that the time spent on professional activities is clearly defined. While telecommuting, establishing a routine is essential, as much to get through the various tasks as to maintain your motivation. Determine a specific time slot for work, if your employer has not already assigned one, and try to stick to it. During the hours that you are “on duty”, maximize your time management to cover all these tasks. Start by planning your day and follow your schedule as much as possible. Do not forget to take the breaks that you would be entitled to at the office – and don’t forget your lunch time- to recharge your batteries. You will have clearer ideas and be more productive in the afternoon. Also, avoid undertaking personal tasks (household chores, personal emails, etc.) during the time you’ve allotted for your office work. You will be more efficient if these different tasks are compartmentalized and have a period of time allocated to them.
KEEP IN TOUCH WITH THE MEMBERS OF YOUR TEAM
Technology, essential to the success of telecommuting, will never completely replace human contact (phew!). Email or text can be convenient and quick. But speaking verbally, by phone or videoconference, will bring clarity to the instructions and break feelings of isolation. Organize meetings on a regular basis to catch up with team members. Take the opportunity to discuss the progress of the various projects and take the time to validate everyone’s workload. This will allow the employer to maintain some control over the work accomplished and allow team members to effectively share advice and support. Ask everyone for a progress report at the end of each day, to check in on the progression of tasks and make sure nothing gets overlooked. Communication will always be the key to the success of any business.
KEEP IT PROFESSIONAL
Although telecommuting allows us some relaxation which can be pleasant (like writing this article while wearing a Batman t-shirt), working “soft” can soften productivity. Even if your pajamas are more comfortable than your office clothes, it could destroy your motivation and your professionalism. Just like sticking to a work schedule, casual but appropriate attire will help you guard your motivation and maintain a sense of work vs home.
FIND THE SILVER LINING
Opportunists know how to find the positive in each situation and adapt it to their reality. Gratitude goes a long way. Admittedly, home confinement can be heavy at times, and going out to work may end up being missed. You must realize that this is an opportunity to gain new insight from your telecommuting experience. Explain to your children, your partner or your friends on FaceTime what you are doing, get them interested in your job. Ask them to assist you with a few simple tasks, if possible. Treat yourself, reward the progress in your tasks with something you like: a latte coffee, a piece of cake, a stroll around the neighborhood. It is not always easy, but you will be happy that your work gave you a chance to keep your health during this crisis, even if it tested your sanity at times.
KEEP YOUR OPEN MIND AND YOUR SOLIDARITY
There will be difficult days – not every day was perfect when we were at the office. The feeling of isolation and the difficulty of organization can weigh heavily on some. Take the time to listen to your colleagues, ask them regularly how they are, how they are managing their workload. Be understanding if the tasks are not done as quickly, offer your help if your agenda is free more quickly.
Adapt, work together.
And if your telecommuting day has been a disaster, tell yourself that someone else’s has probably been worse than yours.