Working Remotely during COVID-19

“Work-from-home” was a coveted perk, that is, until the pandemic struck. Now that more and more people are experiencing periodic cycles of voluntary and involuntary ‘work-from-home’ arrangements, some for the very first time in their lives, many are being hit by the bitter realization that it is not all that of a dream experience they were anticipating it to be all along. 

Has the routine of getting under the covers with a housecoat on and staring at a laptop screen all day with a Chocó latte in one hand become a domestic drudgery you are dreading to confront? Well then, you’re not alone. LinkedIn conducted a research to get insights into the current working conditions of employees in Ireland. The results? A whopping 56% of the respondents admitted to feeling more anxious and stressed with the work-from-home setup. If that wasn’t misery enough, many even reported working 38 hours more per month on an average as opposed to the pre-lockdown situation – that is almost a whole week’s worth of work! 

Mentally taxing and emotionally challenging as it may be, work-from-home seems to be the new normal, at least in the foreseeable future. With that being said, if social isolation and work/life disequilibrium are taking a toll on you, the only way out is to learn to cope with it the right way. 

Making the Most of the Situation: Useful Tips to Cope with the ‘New Normal’

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, but since the work-from-home ‘culture,’ as it is presently called, doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, Jack needs to manage his schedule and emotions well to overcome these trying times. Given below are some tried-and-true tips to help cope with the ‘new normal.’ 

Tip#1 Always Structure Your Day the Very First Thing in the Morning 

This is especially crucial if you have little kids to take care of. Juggling work and home commitments while you’re at home requires a bit more ingenuity and careful planning on your part. Make a list of your daily tasks in order of their priority. This includes the various webinars and video conferences scheduled for the day. The reason structuring is so important is that some unexpected call or assignment may always crop up, leaving you in panic mode. Having a proper schedule will allow you to adjust well to any disruptions. Remember, if you fail to plan, you’re automatically planning to fail! 

Tip#2 Have a Dedicated Workspace

Dedicated Workspace

This is perhaps the most needed yet the most neglected piece of advice. If only people would have a dedicated home workspace, no matter how compact, no matter how minimalistic, they would see their productivity levels shoot up. Set apart a designated workstation in your home, including a desk and a chair, small cabinets to store essential files and documents, some planters to inject freshness, and maybe a beautifully-framed picture of your family for some inspiration. Also, make sure the workspace is not a first-find dull spot; be intentional with your space-hunt and choose a spot that helps you set aside household distractions and complete your to-do list for the day. 

Tip#3 Sometimes, it’s Good to Ditch the Mail

What do we mean by it? Well, most of us are accustomed to using a single channel of official communication, and 9 out of 10 times, it’s the e-mail. But, to stay more productive, you should make it a practice to communicate with your clients and colleagues via different digital channels, especially on days you’re feeling too low to focus. Have a friendly chat on WhatsApp or call the person; you can even conduct a video call for a more personal connection. 

Tip#4 Never Feel Guilty to Take Breaks 

Take Breaks

It is natural to zone out every once in a while during work hours. And it is equally natural to take some time away from work to rejuvenate. During your break times, try out some basic stretching exercises, sip on some coffee or juice, or watch an inspiring video. Better yet, you can set up virtual coffee-rooms to chat with like-minded individuals while you’re on your break. The key is to ensure that you do something relaxingly productive even during your breaks so as to not return feeling more lethargic and disoriented. 

Tip#5 Keep Your Space Clutter-Free, ALWAYS 

This is a tip that can never be stressed enough. It is indeed true that a cluttered workspace is a direct reflection of a cluttered mind. When your emotions are all over the place, perhaps the best thing to do then and there is to start decluttering and organizing your home workspace. Follow the French adage, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Every evening before you wrap up your work for the day, make sure you clean your workstation thoroughly. This will prevent one day’s frustration from creeping into the next and enable you to start on a fresh note every morning. 

Tip#6 Be Compassionate with Yourself 

Since we’re currently living in strange times, it’s important, now more than ever, for you to show yourself some compassion. Accept the fact that you may not be as productive as you were in your office, at least until you’ve adjusted well with the new setup. Permit yourself to feel the stress, cry it out if you’d like, but do not let it consume you. And remember, the more stressed you are, the more vital it is to give yourself grace.

Once you begin applying the above-mentioned tips, the only thing that can limit your work-from-home from succeeding is a weak internet connection! It was just a year ago that the US workforce was dissatisfied with the fact that flexible telework setup was inaccessible; just a year later, and we see most of them desperately looking for a way out of the work-from-home arrangement. The key takeaways? Be careful what you wish for and make the most of every situation, even times of trial!