By Nurul Khairiah Mohamed Yusof
Working remotely prove to be a challenge for most people. What can you do to stay motivated and productive?
With the outbreak of coronavirus globally and the implementation of Malaysia’s Movement Control Order (MCO) affecting everything with travel limitations to social distancing, Covid-19 in Malaysia has become a growing concern. That’s why many companies (non-essential services) are mandating or recommending that as many employees as possible work remotely until the virus can be contained.
Plenty of people fantasize about working from the comfort of their own home, replacing their commute in favor of more sleep, family or exercise time. But working remotely is a double-edged sword — sure, you get to stay home, but it can be harder to focus on actually working. Some problems people faced while working from home are:
Unsuitable location or working conditions
Poor time management and lack of structure
Unclear flow of communication
Feeling demotivated and hate working in an isolation
So, first thing’s first: you should probably sit up straight, eat some breakfast, and put on your work outfit. How else can you stay focused on the job and mentally healthy while working remotely? Here are four tips for work from home and to staying productive.
#1. Set up a designated space for working
Try to find yourself a dedicated and comfortable spot to work in that you can associate with your job and leave when you’re off the clock — that means get off the couch, and definitely out of bed. For many, that means a home office.
When making your home office, it also helps to make the room look like an office. Make sure you have easy access to all of the tools and supplies you need to succeed. This could include your computer, a printer, video conferencing equipment, paper, pens, and more. The more your room feels like an office, the easier it will be to stay motivated in the workplace.
If you don’t have a separate room, find an area with minimum traffic flow or a corner of a room off from the main area. Also important that the area has good ventilation and enough light whether from sunlight or artificial lighting.
Avoid checking emails, voicemails, or texting in front of the television or spreading work out on the kitchen table. Make your space a stress-free zone of quiet and solitude where you can concentrate.
#2. Manage your schedule and time
Set your workdays and hours and stick to them. In most cases, that either means maintaining regular business hours or basing your work hours on the schedule maintained by your spouse or kids. Not only does a conventional schedule make you more productive, but it also allows you to spend time with the people you care about.
If it helps, you can set up a personal timetable that allocates your working, rest, and spend with family time. Make a list of what you should do every day and what goals you want to achieve. This will help you to manage time and be more productive throughout the day.
For example, you work from 9 am to 12 pm. And then, you take a break and have lunch. You can start working again from 2 pm until 6 pm so at night you will have time for yourself (if you are alone) and time to spend with your family. Of course this is totally flexible and can be adjusted according to your availability and requirements from your employer.
If you work for yourself, start with setting broad weekly goals. Then every morning, set three high-priority tasks. You can cycle in smaller tasks like keeping up with email as you get a free five minutes but keep your eye on the larger high-impact tasks.
#3. Have good communication with your employers and workmates
If you work for an employer, remain in close communication with your supervisor. Ask them which projects you should prioritize and when they expect you to reach each milestone.
At least once each week, connect with them to discuss your progress, your challenges, and any ideas to address those challenges. Keep them in the loop so they can provide better feedback and direction.
Employ your video communications perhaps more than you normally would, now that you’re more isolated. Make sure you have your company’s teleconferencing devices—such as Zoom and Google Hangouts —hooked up and ready to go so you can stay connected with team members or office mates and you’re available for video calls and teleconferencing.
You can also invest in noise-canceling headphones , which block out external background noise so you can concentrate during a video conference or online meeting.
#4. Find your motivators and stay connected
If you’re not used to working from home, especially with others—kids for instance—you need time to adjust. Try not to get frustrated if you find it difficult and start to recognize your patterns, rhythms, and motivators.
Figure out your personal motivators and understand what drives you. What chimes with your personality? Is it curiosity, problem-solving, the chance to learn, a sense of achievement, providing meaning, or taking an interest? It depends on the task, but try to apply some of these motivators.
Dr. Thuy-vy Nguyen from Durham University, who studies the effects of solitude, thinks the psychological effects of working remotely for extended periods is often overlooked or ignored, despite it being an essential factor in our mental well-being and team bonding.
“We’re used to social interaction. It facilitates cooperation and closeness.”
To help fill the socializing gap while working remotely, Nguyen recommends finding a colleague you can hit up when you’re feeling the need to chat with someone. Alternatively, buddy up with a friend who works elsewhere and is going through the same experience. Hopping on a social video call instead of text isn’t a bad idea, either.
Remote working might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it all depends on your attitude and how you look at the situation. If you look at it positively, you can find the opportunity during this difficult time and figure out the solution. Take advantage of this restrictive time to clear some clutter in your life and discover new hobbies.
What other tips can you recommend for better working from the home environment? Share with us in the comments section below.