The Coronavirus has brought months of untold suffering for people around the world. By now, most of us would already have engaged in unfamiliar and inconvenient practices like social distancing, self-isolation and work-from-home (WFH), which may continue to be part and parcel of our life in the near future.
If you’re part of the WFH brigade, the good thing is that you no longer need to go through the mad rush of getting to the office on time, since you’re working and living in the same space.
But even if you may save considerable time not having to commute to work, one of the biggest pitfalls of working from home is that your productivity is likely to suffer. With no one looking over your shoulders throughout the day, how do you resist the temptations to stay in bed “just a little longer”, stop yourself from lingering over breakfast or lunch instead of getting right into work mode, or take “breaks” to do stuff other than work more often than you should?
Conversely, since there’s no distinct separation between working hours and personal time, would you find yourself glued to the screen and toiling over a project long after you would have called it quits at the office?
Here’re some tips to help you face the challenges of working at home, and stay disciplined, focused and physically and mentally fit to increase your productivity:
1. COMMIT YOURSELF TO 8 HOURS OF HIGH-QUALITY WORK
- Make use of online tools such as video-conferencing applications and/or video chat functions to ensure that you get the same level of support as when you are working with your teammates in the office. For instance, if your role requires frequent collaboration with your fellow colleagues, you can set up regular online catch-up sessions to replicate the face-to-face interactions you would have with them in the office.
- However, technical challenges like unstable Internet access to con calls and inefficient online meetings could negatively impact your work efficacy. If you are facing such issues, Shun Hou, Practice Head of Consumer and Corporate Finance, RGF Professional Recruitment China, Shanghai, suggests you give instant feedback to your immediate supervisor, in order to get the technical support you need and improve your WFH productivity.
- Coordinate and schedule fixed core working hours with your teammates to ensure that they are contactable as and when their presence and input are required. For instance, you could arrange time slots with participating members to hold meetings, update progress reports, answer queries, or address any urgent needs.In this respect, Shun Hou recommends: “You should cautiously manage the intake of information from all channels to prevent yourself from ‘empathy injury’ arising from emotional negativity due to various causes, which without proper intervention, could result in lower team morale and poorer productivity."
2. SET WORK EFFICACY GOALS FOR YOURSELF
- Get clear specifications on your work expectations and goals from your supervisor/s in advance.
- Make major work goals more manageable and achievable by breaking assignments into daily or step-by-step tasks.
- Proactively engage your supervisor via one-on-one video chats or telephone calls to discuss or specify key milestones for goal attainment, update each other on the current status, and give timely feedback on your work progress.If your regular KPIs, deliverables and targets cannot be achieved, Shun Hou advises: “Do not be afraid to initiate a transparent discussion with your supervisor to align the expectation of your performance. This action of reasonable bargaining and negotiation helps employees and their supervisors to get on the same page, ensure effective communication and contribute towards the enhancement of productivity.”
- Be more proactive in communicating with your teammates to ensure the smooth progress of any ongoing projects or plan forthcoming ones.
3. DEDICATE PROPER TIME FOR WORK, REST AND PLAY
- Stay productive by being disciplined in differentiating between work, parenting (if any) and home maintenance duties. For a start, set daily routines, draw up schedules and assign priorities to better manage work and personal activities.
- Make it a point to get out of bed at a regular time, charge up and get to work. Stick to a regular work schedule. Unless you have a flextime arrangement with your employer, try to maintain the same hours as you would log in at the office. Also, remember to separate working and off-duty hours, and avoid stressors like Zoom fatigue by switching off when it’s time to do so.
- Try to discourage intrusions into your working space and time. Constant interruptions can cause you to lose your focus, procrastinate or get behind on a deadline. So notify members in your household and friends when you do not wish to be disturbed and when you would be available to connect with them. This might be rather challenging if you have kids to homeschool or care for. A solution is to set rosters for them – allocate time slots and set the alarm for work and break periods that coincide with your own. Another solution is to get resourceful in keeping them fruitfully occupied for as long as possible.
4. WORK OUT TO STAY PHYSICALLY & MENTALLY FIT
Prolonged confinement and the lack of human interaction can adversely affect both our physical and mental health, which in turn diminishes productivity.
Exercise has been proven to enhance wellbeing, perk up energy levels and refresh mental faculties, so flex those body parts and get your heart pumping. Those trips back and forth between your “workstation”, the fridge and sofa aren’t going to cut it. What you should do is to schedule regular exercise sessions into your weekly routine.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Go for an early morning walk or stretching session – it’s a great way to rev up for the new workday.
- Make your exercise session a fun group activity by getting your children and/or other members in the household to join in. There are loads of exercise videos available to get you moving.
- Unglue yourself from your seat, and get your circulation going and brain fog cleared with a 15-minute on-the-spot workout at regular intervals.
- Work out with improvised equipment – you could make use of simple props like elastic bands and dumbbells, or things like staircases and sturdy fittings, that can be found in your home.
- Tear yourself away from the screen, shut down and go for a run at the end of your “workday”.
The likes of the coronavirus crisis is something we’ve never experienced before. The uncertainty can be unnerving, and the prolonged isolation during a lockdown could negatively impact our productivity. But, thankfully, the wonders of digital technology now allow us to sustain the high levels of productivity that we are expected to fulfill even when confronted by the numerous challenges of working from home.
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