9 Ways to Master the Skills of Working from Home
The world has never looked at the concept of Work from Home so intensely till the Coronavirus pandemic hit humanity globally. There were people before, who worked from home. But mostly they used to be greeted with “so you chill at home all the time” remarks! Not anymore.
Work from Home is perhaps one of the most talked about topics today, with staying home not an option but an imperative for the majority. If you are in the process of figuring out the tricks and hacks of working remotely —also known as telecommuting or e-commuting, here’s what you need to be mindful of when it comes to the perks and pitfalls of working from home.
- Flexibility comes with a price
Working from home definitely gives you a lot of flexibility. You can work in your pyjamas, any time of the day. Commuting to work is not on the roster. You can take a break whenever you need, and your break can extend from 5 minutes to 50 minutes. You don’t have a boss monitoring your every move. And so on.
However, Work from Home also demands a lot from you in return. Flexibility comes with much responsibility. If not done the right way, there is a risk of jeopardising your work reputation, losing your mind and having a negative impact on your economic, physical and emotional wellbeing.
- Self-motivation and discipline are crucial
When you Work from Home, you are your own boss. You are on your own. Hence if you are not self-motivated to work, there is a high chance that you might while away your time doing nothing. And that’s why people often don’t believe you are actually working.
Understand that just because you are not going to an office, you are not on vacation. Work from Home does not mean you can chill all day, binging on Netflix and popcorn. It doesn’t work that way.
You have to make it professional. Only a generous dose of self-motivation and discipline can make you fight that urge to take a nap or resist the temptation to scroll through Instagram or talk to your BFF on phone for hours. Discipline matters. Otherwise, your work suffers.
- Time management is the key
For effective time management, it is important to prioritise. Also, it doesn’t have an ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. Just because your colleague finds it easy to work in the middle of the night does not mean it would work for you. Find out your most productive hours in a day and work around those timings.
Working from home means you also have to respond to the needs of your family members as well as do household chores and engage in activities that one won’t find in a corporate office setup. So, it is very important to set aside particular periods in the day to take care of everything other than work.
- Scheduling is a skill
For the first few days of working from home, minutely observe your morning-to-night activities and then create an effective schedule. Gift yourself a routine. Then follow the routine diligently. Define your work hours and stick to them sincerely.
Make a to-do list daily. Get the to-do list ready the night before. So that you go to sleep knowing exactly what you have to do the next morning. That way you remain focussed and motivated for work, and not wake up clueless about how the day would roll out and waste half a day figuring that out.
Remember, timely completed deliverables are more important than showing up in your blazer.
- Boost your work vibes
Yes, you can work in your pyjamas, from the comfort of your bed. But more often than not, such a work style proves to be counter-productive. So, create your work zone to stay motivated.
- Designate an ergonomically comfortable space for work. If the chair or the cushion is not comfortable enough for you to sit for hours, then chances are you will actually avoid work.
- You can even design yourself a standing work station. That way, you remain active, and prevent yourself from dozing off.
- Make the work space a bit private. Separate the work zone from the rest of the house. Create a separator using potted plants, a book rack, a curtain, or simply by using upholstery of a contrasting colour pattern from that of the rest of your home to create that zoning effect.
- Try and avoid working from bed.
- Dress up as if you are going to an office. If not crisp formals, at least get out of your sleeping suits, do you hair and put on something comfortable and proper, especially if you have a team or client meeting over video call.
- Decorate your work station for that feel-good factor. Make the work space inviting enough. Working in the middle of a mess might actually put you off in the first place.
- Don’t work in poor light. Make sure you are utilising natural light to the optimum. If you are working at night, use lights that are soothing for your eyes and less jarring for the rest of your family members, who might be sharing the room with you.
- Create the environment. To work. Put on some music. Spray some room freshener. Get the right light on. Decorate the space. Now don’t sleep or start dancing. Work.
- Team game versus working alone
Remember you are on your own. The onus is on you to be responsive. Keep a tab on your work and communicate effectively with your co-workers. When you work remotely, the challenge is to keep everyone else in the team updated about each other’s work flow.
Hence, make it a point to regularly engage with your team members and keep the communication flow unhindered. In fact, you need to be more communicative than usual.
Do your best to be available for one-on-one as well as conference calls and other online collaborations that can add value to the work.
- Technology helps
Work from Home demands you to be extremely tech-savvy. From video conferencing to sharing of data on clouds, from accessing your company’s resources over a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to using only encrypted Wi-Fi for business and keeping your data secure — technology plays a major role in ensuring a productive and safe Work from Home arrangement.
You can also consider investing in some smart gear like a good headphone, a WPA-2 Wi-Fi router, and the likes.
- Kill distraction
While you can save a lot of time as you don’t have to commute daily, you can also lose time quite easily because of the distractions at home. To be productive, you need focus and concentration. So, do away with distraction.
- Let your family know about your work timings. Make it very clear that nobody should disturb you and consciously make yourself unavailable for household chores during your work hours.
- Avoid phone distractions. Limit your usage. Set specific time for checking WhatsApp messages. Check emails at certain times.
- Don’t eat while you work. If you feel like snacking, pause your work, finish eating and then go back to the work station.
- Don’t allow family members, especially kids, to use your work devices. Lock your device if you have to walk away to the kitchen or washroom.
- Work-Life balance
Work from Home can be a great opportunity to strike a healthy work-life balance. But be mindful. Since there are no specific work hours, the risk is that either you end up over-working and thus burn yourself out, or you become hopelessly unproductive.
- If you are not working enough, you know you need to pull up your sleeves, get disciplined and self-motivated.
- If you are working too much, then try and be the tortoise. Slow, steady and smart is always a better option.
- Give yourself breaks. Stand up. Walk around. Drink water. Go to the washroom and wash your face and neck, freshen up once in a while. Do some deep breathing and free-hand movements, if needed.
But don’t let your work life blur into your home life. Do remember to clock out. And clock in. With regularity, sincerity, discipline, motivation and the joy of being your own boss.