FIRST SECRET OF WORKING FROM HOME:
Working from home is like money, sex, or leisure time: you need to have way more than you need for a long time in order to learn how to handle it correctly.
Working from home is difficult because it requires:
– a daily routine,
– good habits not defined by your environment (What does this mean? Lots of our habits depend on the environment where we practise them. So far, your work has been tied to your office and your home to your personal life: I’m in the office = I am working, I’m at home = I am relaxing or having fun with my family. Well, all this is gone. Suddenly, you’re being asked to switch to work mode in your relaxed/family time environment. No wonder it’s a problem for you!)
Working from home is additionally difficult because:
– you no longer have the moral support from your colleagues in the office (working feels better when there are people around working as well),
– your time schedule falls apart,
– you can’t work elsewhere (lots of freelancers work in cafés, tea rooms, shared spaces, hubs, etc. – all of those are now closed, making the current situation difficult even for well-established freelancers).
Working from home is a shift we were all suddenly forced to make that is made more difficult because:
– something exceptional is happening and people tend to follow the news more than usual,
– your family is at home as well,
– the weather is beautiful,
– it all happened so fast that we had no time to prepare.
The media offers lots of advice on how to work from home. Feel free to try out all of their tips, but odds are you’ll still have to find and go your own way.
Because, and this is THE SECOND BIGGEST SECRET OF WORKING FROM HOME:
Working from home is a lot like trying to lose weight: despite some basic rules, every person is different and results vary between people and methods.
It makes sense if that explanation gets under your skin – people always want simple instructions for everything. Obviously, the simplest way would be to provide some tips for you, such as stick to your routine just like you would in the office, don’t have lunch in the room you work in, put a nice vase on the table… Eventually, though, you’ll simply need to find what works for you.
Tips for employees to think about:
- Don’t view this situation negatively – as something you have to suffer through. Instead, consider it a fantastic opportunity to gain a brand new skill – to be able to work from just about anywhere. If your employer let you work from home one day a week, it would take a long time to create a daily routine. This way you have an opportunity to master it much faster. Despite all the troubles, try to see this situation positively – as a challenge, not a complication.
- A new routine is a must, just expect it to take a little while. Don’t be nervous when you fail, don’t get angry with yourselves when you find out you’re not as efficient as you would be in the office; don’t expect the impossible in this difficult situation! Usually, it takes around a year for freelancers to create and stick to an efficient work routine that suits them. Don’t expect yourselves to do the same in just ten days.
- In order to successfully work from home, it’s absolutely essential to set some rules with your family. But you’ve figured this one out already, right? Honestly, setting and sticking to the rules with those closest to you who think that since you’re at home now, you aren’t doing anything may be the hardest part ahead of you.
- Try out various work modes. You can stick to what you already know from the office: turn on your laptop at 8 am and turn it off at 5 pm, with a lunch squeezed in there somewhere. However, there are numerous reasons why this may not work. In that case, don’t panic and look for a more suitable system. Three hours before lunch, a break, three hours after lunch, three more in the evening. And you may even learn that you’re most productive at night… Go find out!
- If at all possible, be absolutely honest with your boss. If you aren’t managing to work from home, tell them, so you can work together to find a way forward.
- If possible, don’t start anything new now. Postpone that new project a few days or weeks. There’s a lot of new stuff happening all on its own and we need to take time to come to terms with that.
- There are days when you’re not really productive in the office either. And then there are days you just finish it all, right? Just remember that this gap will widen a lot more when you work from home. There will be moments when you won’t feel like working at all, while sometimes you’ll work hard like a maniac. Just see the list of reasons above.
- And what if a really bad moment comes when you REALLY, BUT REALLY CANNOT GET ANYTHING DONE? Well, give it another ten minutes. Ten minutes is a MUST. Work for ten minutes, then get up and do something else entirely. Then get down to it for 15 minutes. Get something done, seriously… anything! And don’t worry, it will pass one day and you’ll start getting things done again. This is how it works.
- Establish new rituals, both personal (a cup of coffee at the same time every day, a ten-minute walk after a two-hour block of work, etc.) and with the team (lunch online together, ten minutes online together in the morning). These will bring some regularity to your days, as at home it’s much easier to just waste a day than in the office.
- There are numerous methods, apps, and tools for working from home: Brain fm app, White Noise into your headphones, the time boxing method, the Pomodoro technique… You surely know lots of these already. Again – keep looking and exploring!
THIRD BIGGEST SECRET OF WORKING FROM HOME:
Working from home is no bonus.
Or rather, it wouldn’t have to be! Actually, it could be a fantastic tool for companies to improve their competitiveness and enlarge the skillsets of their employees. Imagine we are all able to perform at 100%, anywhere at any time. We’ve established good habits, stick to our work routine, and respect the importance of self-discipline in order to make this work… work. Wouldn’t it be great?
Now, with the quarantine and all the restrictions, we have a unique opportunity to start working on all this. It turns out that the companies employing people able to work from anywhere gain a competitive advantage and, eventually, survive and even come out stronger from all kinds of crises.
May you come out of this crisis stronger, as individuals as well as companies!