We are in the year 2020 where technology is now dominating our lives. Wherever you go, wherever you find yourself, you see people who, instead of talking to each other, they are dealing with their mobiles. Somewhere in the midst of all this, a new, deadly virus is emerging that has spread all over the planet when writing these lines. We are in the midst of a real pandemic and most of us, are terrified. For themselves, for their family, for their friends, for their coworkers, for their neighbours.
And in the middle of all this, we are all in it. We who must continue. I’m not referring to doctors or nurses. They are indeed modern heroes. I speak for all of us who must stay on the rails and continue to support our work, fighting for the wealth of our place, supporting GDP and securing old and new jobs. A new online pharmacy that opens, needs to hire an e-shop operator, warehouse operators, assistants etc. A new online clothing or retail store as well. An online B2B store must also continue to support the businesses it supplies.
This burden falls on us. The “technologists” that the older ones would say. Technology is the weapon that allows us to do the extra mile today. And we own this gun. We can be next to our customers, even though we are currently #stayinghome to protect ourselves and protect those around us.
So my goal here is to share my experience and thoughts as far as Remote Working is concerned, with the aim of helping at least one professional today who is called upon to continue to produce equally productively, the work that they have been producing up until now.
The first thing we are called upon to do is to shape our workplace at home and isolate it as far as possible. For example, if we have an office available, we need to turn it into a full workstation, with an office chair, possibly screens, waist and legs support and so on. That is, so as to not understand the difference from our usual working environment in order to be fully committed and focused on our tasks, with comfort. Our roommates (parents, spouse, kids, friends) , who are invited to respect our new home-made workplace, will inevitably have to contribute on this effort.
If the office is in a separate room, which is the ideal one, we need to close our door while we are in it, in order to avoid having disruptions, noises and temptations. But most importantly? When we decide to get out of it because our working day has come to an end, the work has to “stay in” the room and not follow us. If on the other hand it is a small space in another room, such as a corner in our living room, we can delimit the notional boundaries of the office, so that when we decide to leave that space, to be able to really leave it behind us, both naturally and mentally. It is in our hand.
Stick to your daily routines
It is important for a remote worker not to break his or her habits or if they have never had them, to develop new habits that are not compatible with typical office work. For example, working in your pyjamas is something that seems productively deterrent to most people, and the reason is relatively simple. The brain signals to the rest of the body to be in a “relaxed” state as we are in our pyjamas, because that’s how we’ve learned since we were small kids. But when you get up in the morning, wash, shave (if applicable), eat your breakfast in the kitchen (yes, in the kitchen, properly, and not behind your computer screen), then dress up (in comfortable clothes if you so desire, wearing a shirt is not really necessary unless it’s really required eg. formal business meetings) and then, and only then, you go to your delimited (naturally and mentally again) office. Having done that, it is you who really and effectively succeed in putting yourself into “working mode”. In this context, cook in the afternoon after the end of your work, not during the day, normally take your favourite four-legged for a morning and evening walk (if you have, if not, maybe consider it getting one), and not a little later just because you will be at home. Do as you always would, keep your favourite habits, even make new ones that you would prefer, but above all, maintain your discipline.
Energy management is a must
During our work, taking breaks is essential, both for our eyes and for our mental state. The mind needs to rest and the eyes to “zoom out”, focusing somewhere far away. Thinking about something different, albeit for a moment, helps us regain our strength slightly, since being constantly locked in an office for several hours leads to a negative mood in the long run, and not just temporarily during an isolated difficult day. So as one of the most important things a remote worker is required to do is separate his professional life from his personal life, and being a huge challenge by default since both of them are in your house, the need for proper energy management is deemed imperative.
Keep in… touch
Socializing with our partners is an aspect that should not be overlooked even in a remote environment. Use chat, and not necessarily for business purposes. Tell your news, say hi, send a good morning. Try to use periodically a video chat tool and seek out contact with your partners anyhow. Some companies out there organize from time to time video conferences within groups just for their colleagues to say hello to each other. During COVID-19, why not even organize an online whiskey session since in many countries bars have closed and going outdoors without a reasonable cause is prohibited by the law? This does not mean of course, that it is necessary to do it on a daily or even weekly basis. It is something that everyone can judge by their role within the organization and at the end of the day, their mood. Just try to not overlook your social need for contact.
Plan your work in advance
Being distant from our colleagues, it is useful to plan our work (such as our next day and week). This, of course, is nothing new, nor is it something that only remote workers are called upon to do. It is something we all need to do, at all times, whether we are in or out of the office, although it is not something we all necessarily have as part of our daily lives (if we want to be honest). In the context of remote working, however, this need is becoming more apparent, as it is not as easy to arrange a last minute meeting as when you were in the office, or to ask your colleague two desks away by tapping them on their shoulder, for something of the moment. You need to send them to chat and wait for them to reply when they really have the time to do so. So as professionals, we need to carefully, methodically and pro-actively adjust our next steps, both of our day and of our week, especially when other professionals (colleagues or not) are involved.
Given the current conditions, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, if we consider that we do not have the luxury of taking a stroll to “clear” our minds or have a social life after work and especially on weekends, energy management is probably the most important thing we will all need to do over the next weeks. Mismanagement of our energy can lead to fatigue and possibly resentment after 2–3 weeks, which will lead to inefficiency and unproductivity.
At the end of the day, create the processes you want to be productive and undoubtedly after a few days you’ll see yourself become more productive.
In closing, remember that you are not alone in all this. If you are dealing with some issues, you can always talk to a colleague or your manager. After all, they may be facing the same challenge as you are. If, on the other hand, you are a team leader, manager, leader, try to embrace the effort of your colleagues, show understanding, mostly empathy, and above all, do not be skeptical of your team. Remember that you have chosen them and look for ways to make everyone’s lives easier, now that everything we used to know have suddenly… changed!