With the pandemic’s top defense rule of Stay Home, Stay Safe, a lot of us have had to work from home (WFH) and I have a few tips on how to make it effective. First of all, let’s say a prayer of thanks if we have the opportunity and resources to WFH. Not everyone can, so let’s not complain and let’s be grateful for big mercies like this. Alhamdulillah. The tips I’ve put together are nothing new, but I’m sure they will help some, so here we go:
Forget the power suits and cute semi-casual outfits. Ain’t nobody got time for jeans and heels in confinement – unless that’s your speed. But don’t spend the day in your PJs. Get up, shower and throw something comfortable but presentable on. This goes a long way in getting your mind ready for a day of work, after all look good, feel good. Lounge wear, vest dresses or even cute bhatis or T-shirts will do – especially if you have a video call on your schedule.
DESIGNATE A WORK STATION
Having a dedicated spot from which to work is a huge hack! Sure, we can sit or lie in bed with our laptops all day but that’s not very good for the back. Trust me, I know! If you can, clear up a section of your dining table for work or set up a small desk. That is, if you don’t have one already. This will make working easier and ensure your notes and equipment aren’t strewn all about your home. If you cannot designate a spot, switch it up and move from the bed to the couch every once in a while to give your back some relief.
MAINTAIN WORKING HOURS
Just like with your regular office days, having working hours is essential. This not only has you glued to your work station all day but enables you to be available when the rest of your team is too. Synergy and optimization flow this way. If you have to put in extra time, you can plan for it or accommodate it accordingly. But just because you’re WFH it doesn’t mean you get to slack off, so sticking to your schedule will keep you on track. this also means making time for your other daily activities like chores, family time, me-time, self care, working out, socializing (while distancing) etc.
STRUCTURE YOUR DAY
Put together a to-do list like you normally would and work against it. There’s no difference to your work day other than location, so structure and delivery should not be compromised. Organize your tasks and communication the same way you would so things don’t fall through the cracks. Check things off your list as you complete them and this will keep you sane and make you feel accomplished.
ENSURE YOU HAVE INTERNET CONNECTION
A working internet connection is a non-negotiable here unless you operate solely off of calls. A reliable WiFi connection will ensure your emails and downloads/uploads don’t fail. If your connection is unstable or you experience a power outage, you can always tether from your phone. In cases where this is not possible, communicate with the relevant teams you work with so they are aware and don’t think you’re just not working.
KEEP OPEN COMMUNICATION CHANNELS
Whether you’re in a big corporation, an SME or a solo freelancer, you’re not an island. You have colleagues, suppliers, clients etc that you have to be in constant communication with. Keeping open communication channels in lieu of face to face interaction is important. Charge your devices, be connected to the internet and ensure your phone has airtime for calls. Make use of platforms like WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype etc for when conferencing needs to happen. Being reachable will make this whole process easier for everyone.
SET RULES WITH YOUR TEAM & HOUSEHOLD
As a lot of people will be WFH as well, distractions will be rampant. Especially for those that live with others or have kids in the house who also need to be supervised, educated (hello, homeschooling!) and fed etc. Some of us even have elderly people or invalids to take care of. So rules of operation need to be laid down. Work out what makes sense for you and be accommodating of what works for others – in your household and the people you work with. Limit unnecessary distractions like TV, chit chat and chores that can be done later and focus on work as much as you can.
DON’T SKIP MEALS OR SLEEP
It’s very hard not to pull away from work when you’re in the zone or trying to ensure nothing gets neglected in the madness. But make sure to carve out some time for meals and to get enough sleep so that you can be fresh and ready for the next day. WFH does not mean you should neglect your essential needs just to get things done.
It may be hard what with all the paranoia, uncertainty and worry, but be positive! Do not spend your time resigning to defeatist attitudes and hopelessness. Think positive thoughts and keep your spirits high. Check up on each other, check in with each other and keep each other going. Seek inspiration, pray, meditate and know that we will get through this!
At the end of the day, all our lives and lifestyles are different. We know what works for us, what doesn’t, what we can and cannot do best. These are just guidelines and not rules set in stone. Personalize them to suit your needs and situation and make the most of the time you have while WFH.
I can’t end this post without thanking all the amazing people who make it possible for us to do this like live in help and nannies, drivers who are still on duty, call center people who are always there to help, everyone still on the ground and of course, the front-line soldiers in this war! God bless you all! I hope this has been useful and that you’re all keeping well. Stay safe.