As we try to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, chances are you have been encouraged to migrate your work schedule from your office to your home, turning your quarantine into a “Work From Home” situation.
Here’s the reality; you have all the comfort of pyjamas and lounging while tackling your professional schedule at your pace. The relaxation feels great, until you’re remembering deadlines and due dates while you’re playing with your pet or you’ve misplaced the notes you were taking during the last conference call with your boss.
It’s not your fault; while venturing into uncharted territory it can be difficult to prioritise. The shift from your office space to your home will take an adjustment period and a commitment to being productive.
Here are some factors to consider while customising your work from home mission to your environment. Ensure a smoother, more successful adjustment period by;
- 1. Understand YOUR Needs
- 2. Find the Right Space
- 3. Factor in the Nuances
- 4. Implement a Dedicated System of Communication
- 5. Keep Sensitive Documents Safe
- 6. Watch Your Procrastination Enablers
- 7. Drawing a Firm Line between Professional and Personal
- 8. Maintaining Timings and Schedules
- 9. Dressing for Success
1. Understand YOUR Needs
While you may not be able to replicate the tools and utilities available at your office space, you must take some time to zero in on what you need to make your space the most useful to you.
Art creatives and graphic designers would require larger areas to work in along with physical and virtual tools to craft their visions. eCommerce entrepreneurs may need just their laptops and a quick to run internet connection.
Those working for MNCs or operating with sensitive information may be allocated designated tools or devices to execute corporate instructions.
Understand what you would want in close proximity to feel like dedicating yourself to your work. List down what you need to ensure a successful work day and procure the same. Make sure you’re not looking to clutter or overpower the space.
Keep the tone as professional as you need it to be; use your office as a benchmark to understand what you need to work v/s what could possibly be a distraction.
2. Find the Right Space
Capitalise on the flexibility of your home. Look around your space and understand where you would be able to allocate privacy and comfort to your new “professional at home” undertaking.
Look at what conditions make you feel the most incentivised to work. If seclusion helps you work, look for a more isolated spot in the house. If you feel looking at a nice view through a window helps, adjust accordingly.
Keep in mind your professional interactions either via phone calls or video conferencing. Does your space offer enough quiet? Does the overall look feel clean and acceptable on corporate video calls?
If possible, allocate yourself a room where you can conduct your business from. A door segregating the space from the rest of the house could help your mind adjust to the new space if it feels more like a working space and less like an area to unwind.
The best home office setup for productivity factors look and feel. Experiment with different spaces till you find the one that feels “just right”.
3. Factor in the Nuances
Now we’ve located our space and identified our requirements. Fortifying the space with the environmental factors that help a working environment further ensure you are able to make the decisions you need to.
Inadequate lighting directly affects the strain your eyes put on reading information off your screen or paper, especially when this occurs day to day. Maximise your space by ensuring a well lit atmosphere that can transition from day to night with you. Allow for a well ventilated space with adequate neck and back support. Segregate the importance of documents and folders with systems that free up the general work space.
Keeping your space comfortable leaves you with fewer reasons to abscond back to your couch or bed, especially when you’re keen on making your work from home a habit.
4. Implement a Dedicated System of Communication
If you have children, the last thing you need is a business call answered by a toddler saying “hello” repeatedly. If you live alone, imagine abruptly answering your boss with a “WHAT?” when you don’t have the time to look at the screen.
Segregation is key to understanding when to work and when to relax. Allow yourself an entirely different method of communication with your professional stakeholders by using separate phone lines and emails to conduct business.
Let clients understand the seriousness of your business even while being executed from home. Allow them to feel the comfort of being able to reach your business entity with assurity through your dedicated work only lines of communication.
5. Keep Sensitive Documents Safe
While we would like to say we work entirely paperless (and props to those that do), chances are important information is jotted on paper or proposals/accounts are printed for your perusal.
Some of these documents are critical to long term operations while some critical to the day to day. How are you organising and storing these documents?
If you don’t have an answer, the disorganisation is probably making the work from home situation harder than it is.
Whether using a physical filing cabinet or a system that works for just you, implement a method of ensuring all documents associated with your business are safe, secure and protected from clumsy mistakes.
6. Watch Your Procrastination Enablers
The biggest threat we face in our homes while trying to concentrate on money making activities is without a doubt, ourselves. The tendency to procrastinate or allow ourselves to get distracted especially in the place we tend to relax and have fun can get overpowering.
While sitting in your segregated work space, one of the biggest favours you can do for yourself is ensuring your non-work devices are safely put away and your work devices don’t carry distractions.
Modern technology has allowed us to place limits on our interactions with certain applications or websites on our phone. Enable soft locks for yourself. There is nothing wrong with a 15 minute Snapchat or Whatsapp break; however, don’t take these breaks in 15 minute intervals because there is no manager or boss watching over you.
Put away the distractions!
7. Drawing a Firm Line between Professional and Personal
A lot of the tips listed above are practical examples of the title. Drawing a firm line of difference between professional and personal activities can help both systems flow with ease.
Ensure all bills, receipts, documents, budgets, mail and records are maintained separately but simultaneously. The transparency helps account for all business related assets, liabilities and activities conducted. At times of audits or tax filings, having uninterrupted records could save from heavy fines or the appearance of misdemeanors.
If you’re looking at making your work from home arrangement permanent, confer with a lawyer or a government body to confirm the criteria to be met before declaring your home a valid place of business.8.
8. Maintaining Timings and Schedules
Give your days more purpose by setting work timings you feel you can stick to. Unless the organisation you work for has left you with strict work timings, feel free to customise your work days to your household chores.
Start by noting the work or the number of tasks that need to be accomplished daily, weekly, monthly and so on. Use these tasks as a benchmark to determine your working hours.
If you feel like you can do the work for the day within 4 hours, make sure those 4 hours are put aside and dedicated to completing your work efficiently and effectively. If you feel you would rather spread the 4 hour work over 6 hours to tackle at your leisure, do as you will.
Set realistic hours to accomplish your goals daily, that way when you get to crawl back into bed and realise your office day was accomplished with less stress and more comfort, that sleep will feel even more rewarding.
9. Dressing for Success
While this may be the period our sweatpants truly shine, keep in mind an impromptu check in call with your boss may be around any corner. When you get up to start your work day, try wearing something that sets the tone of the tasks you want to accomplish over the course of your work hours.
It doesn’t have to be a suit and tie (or it can if you’d like). Venture into smart casuals that feel like weekends at the office. Looking professional will help you stay focussed on your work and prepared for video conferences with your co-workers.
Maximise your at home comfort to churn out new ideas and directions to take your business activities. Use the ease of pace to your mind’s advantage and reach new professional heights. The work you put into your company during a time of crisis, could be what guides it toward success once the storm subsides.