The global pandemic caused by Covid-19 has forced populations into “social distancing” measures and economies into complete shutdowns (save essential services). To continue operations, businesses have asked their employees to work from home and move their communications online.

Unless you are a professional in an essential service; your organisation has probably requested that you work remotely. Remote working is effective beyond “flattening the curve” and keeping workers safe, it helps transform businesses into more resilient and adaptive organisations for a digital age.

It is difficult to navigate this new digitised workspace and it will take adaptation from all of us to meet this unique challenge. Here is some advice to make your adjustment easier:

Turning your job into remote work

This is a huge shift for all those involved to move their business’s operations online. Companies need to decide how they will function online, IT departments must manage those digital infrastructures and remote workers must shift their jobs to their homes.

  • Organise a distinct and effective work area and have the items you use most within reach.
  • Make sure to charge your laptop and phone overnight.
  • Have good WIFI and all the needed tools and software.
  • Create a to-do list (every night) of all the tasks you have to complete the next day.
  • On Mondays, create a list of all the personal and professional work you want to accomplish for that week.

Adjusting to your new environment

Adjusting means that we all need to turn – at least, part of – our homes into a new work space with the access, tools and comfort we expect from our regular offices. This means having a designated work space, not wearing sweatpants and having needed equipment and resources nearby.

  • Create distinct work and personal environments. Avoid blurring lines between personal spaces (like your bedroom) and work spaces (like your desk and computer).
  • Try to create physical boundaries and general rules; don’t underestimate how distracting children, pets and household chores can be.
  • Avoid social media and the news as much as possible in the day.
  • Take care of yourself: sleep enough, get dressed, eat well and stay active.

Digitising workplaces, maintaining communication and connecting with co-workers

The impact of Covid-19 has ensured that our workplaces and working relationships will never be the same again. There have been positives shown by our ability to evolve in a matter of weeks, but we still need to communicate or interact as much as – or more than – before “self-isolation”.

  • Schedule regular check-in meetings with your manager and team to stay up-to-date. Use tools like Slack and WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
  • Understand and download all the software your company is using.
  • Store work-related files, reference materials and supplies in your new work space or online.
  • Tools such as Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive or Microsoft One Drive can help you go paperless or your co-workers without printers.

Using the right technology, tools and apps

Investing in equipment that will help you perform your job as capably and efficiently as you did in the office should be a goal for all of us.  Since most of the work is online, the communication is via video calling and our access to tools is limited to our homes – we need to consider our hardware and software requirements, carefully,

  • Make sure that your workspace has good lighting, a posture-supporting chair and great wi-fi.
  • Work is done on your computer and it is transferred via the Internet, you should have the bandwidth, security, reliability and backup systems you required.
  • Make use of external hard drives, VPNs and direct Internet lines.
  • Consider software and online tools available, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype for virtual meetings (and keep those video backgrounds clean).
  • Your phone or computer can provide solid AV clarity, but a simple headset or earphones can greatly improve that audio quality.
  • Make use of FaceTime or WhatsApp video and voice chats to keep up with individuals and save on airtime.

Building routines, schedules, discipline and good habits

Remote workers can fall into the trap of feeling like they must over-deliver when working from home. You do not need to do any more than the usual and it is important to keep from overwhelming yourself. Planning out your days, taking breaks after completing tasks and getting enough sleep will help manage your workload and stress will help maintain a healthy work-life balance.

  • Set your work schedule and stick to it.
  • Get into a daily routine and start creating good habits from your home.
  • Take lunch or have a coffee break to recharge your batteries.
  • We cannot go to the gym, but take the time to exercise and stay active.
  • Practise regular handwashing and carry hand sanitiser and a facemask whenever you leave the house.
  • Implement “social distancing”, but maintain your closeness with your friends and family via the Internet and video calling.
  • Get enough sleep, eat well and take care of yourself.

And, finally…

Working from home is our new reality for the foreseeable future. It is vital to create an environment with all the supplies you need and comfort you should always feel at home. Be kind to yourself and to those around you. Family, friends, bosses and co-workers are all struggling to adjust to this reality and we all deserve the space and time to figure out what works best for us.

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