The country-wide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to another syndrome that is plaguing professionals working from home. We call it the WFH syndrome. This syndrome has one major cause – staying with your family 24X7.
We all love our families but staying with them all day long is taking the joy away from spending time with them. Let’s be honest! It’s driving us up the proverbial wall, especially during working hours. We have all had situations where our children needed a fight refereed during an all-important client call, or a colleague was made privy to our spouse’s agenda for the day, or someone thought that a review call was the right time to disconnect the Wi-Fi to connect their phone charger. Scenarios such as these can put you off your game.
During workhours, you need to be able to think and concentrate on your work. Here are a few simple rules to help you maintain your sanity, during working hours at least.
Rule # 1 Put that remote down.
Ask the rest of your family to watch TV on mute or while wearing headphones. Or they could just read a book, paint, knit, or use their mobile phone.
Rule # 2 Mark your territory!
Create an office for yourself within your home. Let your family know that they cannot enter this space during working hours unless it is an emergency. Make sure you clearly define what constitutes an emergency.
Rule # 3 No food/beverage around your workstation
Step away from your workstation for your meals. Besides the fact that it is a healthy habit, it also protects the gadgets that you need for work. You don’t want to be spilling orange juice on your laptop or on the expensive headphones you just invested in.
Rule # 4 36-inch!
Maintain a minimum distance of 3 feet between two people working from the same house. Have two separate tables or create two different work corners. That should ensure that your colleagues aren’t apprised of your spouse’s meeting agenda.
Rule # 5 Do Not Disturb
During this time, your pets and kids will need your time and attention too. Put down clear rules on acceptable behaviour so that your productivity is not negatively impacted. Train your kids, partner, pets, and parents to be self-sufficient and to occupy themselves. Ensure you spend quality time with them outside office hours.
Rule # 6 Dress up
Dress up like you are going to work. This will put in the right frame of mind. Don’t start working in your shorts and tees (unless that’s how you go to work). Also, you aren’t fooling anyone! It is evident that you are wearing a formal jacket on your regular-wear t-shirt.
Rule # 7 Find the spot
Set up your workstation where the Wi-Fi connection works best. Also, have a backup plan – a dongle, mobile hotspot, etc. – just in case you need it.
The WHO is asking all of us to sanitise your hands, home, surroundings. Likewise, you need to have a plan for mental sanitisation too to avoid side effects of your WFH syndrome.
Everyone hates being confined, restricted and staying put. But during this pandemic, across the world, we’ve all been bound to our homes, working for and from them. All the buzz on the social networks and news channels has been about the pandemic and how, as humanity, we are coping with these strange and uncertain times. It does seem like life will be divided into clear pre and post pandemic eras.
For the working world, there was a time when “WFH” was reserved for when we had unavoidable personal errands to run for part of the day – a doctor’s appointment, PTAs, vets appointments – or when we were working on something we needed to pay more attention to, for example a crucial project, an important presentation. So, WFH in pre-pandemic times was either a luxury or an aid for better concentration.
Now that we are forced to WFH, the concept no longer charms. We miss our buddies from work, the food we had to reheat before eating, and we definitely miss our office desks. And while everyone is wondering when this will be over, and when we go back to work, here are a few simple tips and tricks to make WFH more bearable.
“What gets measured gets managed”
Define your daily tasks and ensure you stay true to this list. Yes, a simple to-do list goes a long way. If you measure what you will complete in a day, you will be able to manage your day better. If you already do this, take it to the next level, by dividing your day into zones/slots and granularly divide your tasks into them. Check out tools like To-do list or Google Keep to help you manage your tasks easily.
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four-hour days.”
Although WFH gives you the benefit of flexible hours, it may help to stick to a defined work timing to help your body clock cope with this change. Stay disciplined throughout the day by consciously thinking of yourself being at work. Start the day early so you can wind down in the evening and relax with your family or do household chores. Don’t delay the start of your day thinking that you can make up for it later in the evening or at night. Remember that your body is not used to so much inactivity, and so adequate sleep and relaxation will be needed to keep your immune system healthy.
“Distracted from distraction by distraction”
Let’s check Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and even Linked every 15 minutes! Unless you work in marketing or handle your organization’s social media account, put a pause on the entertainment folder of your phone during the workday. One episode on Netflix does not hurt, but it does not help either.
“Don’t get bent out of shape”
Now that you are WFH, respect your office space. At work, you have a desk and a chair that keeps you comfortable. The office space is usually designed to keep you in ‘Good Form’, ‘Good Function’, and ‘Good Health’. Try to create office-like ergonomics at home, till the lockdown lasts. This will help in reducing all those aches and pains that result from sitting in bad postures through the day. Avoid sitting on your bed with your legs outstretched or on your living room furniture with your laptop on your lap. Elevate your laptop to just below eye level to help your eyes and your shoulders.
“Invest in Quality Technology”
Yes, setting up your home office or workspace may require a small investment. Much like starting a new business, you may have to purchase the right hardware or software, such as a desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone system to do your job every day.
A high-performance router will save you many a frustrated moment. Since working from home often requires more than chat messages, you need a router that will keep up. A router from several years ago might be prone to common network issues.
“Communicate with your co-workers, buddies, and Boss!”
Well, you’re all in the same boat, so no one knows what you’re going through more than them. Over communicate with your teams if you are a manager and speak to your Boss at least 2-3 times in a day. Sound them off on work status, discuss issues that you are facing, and inquire what they’re up to at home. Be approachable to all.
Besides the ones we’ve mentioned above, there are many tips and tricks that can help your WFH be more effective. Read as many articles as you want, but you will need to find your own equilibrium of what works for you.