The New Normal: Working from home
By now, many of us are in touch with the realities of working from home and are doing what we can to survive. Now it’s time to talk about how to thrive in this new era. The reality is—as with many of the tech giants who’ve already openly said it—working from home is going to remain a viable option for the unforeseeable future. Companies that can, will likely be emulating this model in the interests of workplace safety and other concerns.
So what does that mean for you? A few things. First, it means you’ll need more than a solid internet connection and having Zoom installed on your laptop. You’ll need to proactively manage the realities of your particular work-from-home situation and adapt it for the long-term. Here are a few things that might help:
In the work-from-home dreamworld you might have pictured before this crash course in self-isolation went down, you probably saw yourself comfortably seated on your couch in your sweats with your laptop open, eating bonbons (no judgment on the latter). Yes, technically, you can work from your couch but you’ll be much more productive if you don’t. Experts agree that setting up an actual workspace—even if a makeshift one—is the best way to boost productivity and maintain momentum. So scatter the life-affirming mementos and make the space your own.
Sure, working from home has plenty of distractions (Netflix…laundry…dishes…disinfecting…more disinfecting) but so does working in an office, arguably more so, depending on your coworkers, office politics, meeting schedules, and eating bonbons brought in from said coworkers (again, no judgment). The truth is: you most likely had to limit distractions at the office to a certain degree in order to stay on top of your game and meet deadlines. If you can modify that same skillset to limit the distractions now presented at home, it will enhance your time management and enable you to get substantially more done. If you have a home office door that will close, close it. If the space you set up for yourself is part of a shared living area, that’s definitely tougher but not impossible. Wear ear buds to limit noise and communicate with your cohabitants on additional privacy issues. Ask for support when you need it—this is particularly true if you are juggling small children at home—and do what works for you.
Remember back in the day when the constant barrage of emails on your blackberry was a novel thing? Managing real time response remains a struggle today. The technology is such that you can be available 24/7 but as many of us have learned, that often leads to burnout and a nonexistent work/life balance. So most likely you have dealt with this subject matter before and simply need to adapt what was accepted practice at your workplace before all of this to your home environment. Set a schedule and stick to it. You need to be available but that doesn’t have to mean being chained to your desk. Use this time to enjoy some of the freedom and flexibility that comes with working from home. Take breaks. Walk around. Get outside if you can. Experts agree that physical activity enhances creativity and aids with both focus and retention.
While the line between home life and work life is certainly blurred right now, the reality is it’s been trending that way for quite some time. And making some subtle shifts to better navigate it might mean more time to enjoy what’s important outside of work. This is a collective moment for the rise of remote working and being able to do it well will set you apart as a valuable asset for all of the companies that will now be routinely employing it as the new normal.