Has the novelty of working from home worn off yet? Yes, it’s nice to skip the commute, spend an extra hour in bed each morning, and spend more time with family. But this COVID-19 lockdown is starting to make WFH feel more like groundhog day. You see, working from home presents a raft of new and sometimes unexpected challenges to navigate. But the good news is that we’re all facing the same battle in adapting to a new normal.
Forcing the hand of employers who have previously shown reluctance to embrace an agile, remote workforce, the COVID-19 lockdown has inadvertently given us a glimpse of the future of work. By 2030, it’s predicted that 80% of the global workforce will be made up of freelancers chasing the freedom and fulfilment that comes with working for themselves. Be that from home or wherever in the world they nomadically choose to exist.
But whether it’s through choice or lockdown, working remotely can throw up a lot of challenges. Like the communication issues of not physically being with your team. The everyday team chit chat and camaraderie that keeps us all sane and connected gets lost. Not to mention the myriad distractions of just being at home, and of course, the impact of isolation on our overall wellbeing. So what is the trick to staying sane, boosting productivity, and emerging on the other side emotionally intact?
We caught up with Tash Menon, Founder & Director at MASH Brands, (a creative agency alternative, that houses a global network of independent creative talent that can be plugged into organisations as and when required) to learn more. Because who better to ask about agile working than people who do this day in day out and thrive. After recently expanding into Asia, the MASH Brands team learnt a thing or two through trial and error about how to manage and run remote teams successfully across different continents. Here are the perks and perils of working from home or remotely, and how you can maintain your wellbeing and boost productivity while you’re at it.
Check-in with colleagues
Once the novelty of avoiding your commute wears off, it’s surprisingly easy for feelings of isolation to kick in. If you previously started your morning in the office with a coffee and a chat with colleagues, do the same at home. Just from the comfort of your sofa via Zoom. Keeping these little daily rituals will ensure you feel connected and part of a team. Team camaraderie is hugely important, so don’t forget to check-in.
Replace don’t replicate
It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to replicate your office working life at home. But, it’s an entirely different environment, and that doesn’t always work. Be transparent about it; if you’re taking a client call from a taxi in between meetings, that’s totally fine. Or if you’re speaking to colleagues while going for a walk, that’s fine too. Don’t hide how you’re working and let the quality of your output speak for itself.
Focus on productivity, not hours
The pressure to be hyper-productive at home is real. And let’s face it, when you’re working in an office, it’s easy to act like you’re always busy. But this new-found freedom at home can be distracting. Try setting time goals or deadlines – where you’ll work on a particular project or complete a task within a set time frame and then take a break. And if you’re a business, focus less on working hours for the sake of working hours and instead think about productivity.
Environment is key
There’s a lot to be said for creating the right environment at home to ensure peak productivity. Create a soothing space that you want to spend time in. Pick a space in your home with lots of natural light. Light a scented candle. Bring some plants into the area. And if you don’t have one already, invest in a decent speaker. A playlist of chilled background tunes is essential. If you enjoy being in your workspace, you will find it easier to focus and be productive.
Speak to people
It’s easy for cabin fever to set in if you don’t speak to people. Make time for informal team meetings and catch-ups, try to check in with others to see how they are doing too and call your clients. Remember that this is a new experience for a lot of people. Working from home can be really isolating and making an effort to connect with people, albeit virtually, will help you stay sane.
Figure out new communication rules
Think about the different communication channels you have with your colleagues and how best to use them. Remember those quick little conversations you’d have while walking between meetings or the questions you’d bounce off of each other over coffee? These opportunities no longer exist. But constantly interrupting colleagues at home can be distracting and is not an effective way to communicate. Think about the different channels you have with colleagues and how best to use them. For example, use Whatsapp chat for informal banter. Use Whatsapp voice messages when you need to discuss something work-related quickly but don’t need to have a full conversation. Use things like Slack to manage team projects. And reserve email communication for clients.
Utilise your time efficiently. If you know you’re prone to hitting a 3 pm slump, don’t try and work through it as you might in the office. You won’t be productive. Book a yoga class, or something energising instead. Treat it like a meeting and go to it. When you return to your desk, you’ll feel ready to crank out another couple of hours of productivity. And don’t, whatever you do, feel guilty about it.
Prioritise your mental health
Let’s face it; this is a weird situation. And we’re all just trying to get through it the best way we can. You might find that some days you feel motivated and productive, but other days are a complete write-off. This rollercoaster of emotions is to be expected. But what you can do is prioritise your mental and physical wellness to ensure you can manage the highs and lows. Take time between meetings, give yourself breaks, spend time outside where possible, and utilise all of the free online resources that are springing up. Create a new routine and explore incorporating yoga or meditation sessions into your day.
See the article here.