How to survive working from home: advice from a long-time remote worker
As more and more people find themselves working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bayside Group turned to one of its long-standing remote employees, Jessica Wilson, to hear her best advice for those moving from the workplace to home.
When I was asked to write about my experience of working from home, to be honest I wasn’t sure where to start. From the outset, my choice to work from home was a conscious decision made due to my personal circumstances, but I know that many people, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have had the choice to work from their office taken away.
I’ve been working remotely as a Bayside Group Consultant for 12 years now, after having two children lead me in search of a job that allowed me the flexibility to work from home, so I could spend more time with our children. While I enjoyed my office-based work in the garment manufacturing industry, once I settled into my new remote work routine I discovered it was much better suited to my new lifestyle.
After navigating the world of working from home for over a decade, I have some learnings I thought I could share with those who are now finding themselves, perhaps for the first time, transitioning from the workplace to working from home.
Working from home doesn’t only affect you
When working from home, it is important to remember that it not only impacts you, but your family members and others living in your household.
It can often be difficult for family members, especially young children, to understand the need for quiet when you are on a work call or video chat, because their home has always been a place where they can play and make noise.
To ensure that you are given the time you need to focus, it can be helpful to set boundaries from the outset, so those around you know when you’re working. This will help to avoid hurt feelings on their part and frustration on yours.
Know when to switch off
Working from home takes time to adjust to, and at times it feels as if your working life and personal life have collided. For this reason, I’ve found it really important to close the laptop outside working hours, and if you are working from a temporary work station (like the kitchen table), put your computer out of sight, and make it the communal family area again.
This will help to ensure you don’t begin to feel burnt out, or like you’re constantly working, which can impact on your mental health and productivity levels.
Maintain a healthy routine
Routine is also very important and assists with self-motivation – try to follow the routine you have already established for yourself when working in the office: still wake up at a reasonable time, shower and get dressed as though you are going to work, and once you’re sitting down at your desk, get into your work mindset.
Ensure that you take your breaks and have a breather when needed, just as you would in the office. But try and give yourself a time-limit, so you don’t get distracted.
At times, working from home can feel quite isolating. This is because you’re not experiencing the social interaction that you would normal receive on a day-to-day basis in the office. This makes it extremely important to make a concerted effort to stay in touch with your colleagues and/or managers.
If you are feeling isolated, call or facetime a colleague and have a discussion as you normally would in the office, or aim to touch base with a few colleagues each day that you would normally interact with. Chances are they’ll appreciate it too, especially if they’re also working from home.
Create your own space
Due to the COVID-19 situation that has forced many people to work remotely,many households will now have not just one person working from home, but two. If possible (depending on your space), try to create separate work stations to ensure that you’re both getting the space you need to work effectively.
Trust in your team
Managing a team remotely presents a whole new range of challenges, however it is important that you trust in your team to perform their roles competently, even if from home.
It will be important in these times to establish regular meeting patterns, keep the channels of communication open and ensure that each of your team members knows what is expected of them. Do this, and your team should be able to run just as efficiently as it did within the office environment.
Above all, remember that while working from home can have its challenges, there are also many benefits. Once you settle into a rhythm, you’ll likely find that your work begins to flow naturally once again.