Working Remotely During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Our Tips
We are living through one of the worst crises in the history of humankind: the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot of businesses have rolled out obligatory work-from-home policies for their employees. Our company has followed suit and switched over to the remote work format too. We want to ensure that our whole staff stays healthy and continues to provide high-quality services for our clients.
We’d practised the remote work mode before the pandemic broke out. However, it normally assumed just a day or two of staying out of the office and interacting with colleagues and clients online.
Now, the situation is really grave, and no one knows when it will be safe to return to normal life. This means we all have to adapt to new, unusual working environments. For many people, this change of routine is a real challenge that impacts both their productivity and their private lives.
No fear, though. We have prepared some effective tips to help you adjust to the new reality. By following them, you can perform as brilliantly working from the comfort of your home as you do from your cozy office. We have divided our recommendations into two groups:
- Tips on Self-Organization
- Tips on Interacting With Your Coworkers and Management
We hope you’ll find our advice helpful.
TIPS ON SELF-ORGANIZATION
#1: Make an “Office Cubicle” in Your Home
When you come to the office, you sit down at your desk, turn on your computer, and start doing your tasks. When the working day is over, you shut down your computer and go back home. Your office and home spaces are clearly separated.
It’s a different story when you have to work from your home.There’s no clear divide where home/leisure space ends and your working area begins. So, the very first step you need to take is to organize your own home office — the place intended for work only and nothing else.
If you live in a several-room apartment and can set up your office in one of the rooms, that’s great. Even if you can only have a corner in the bedroom for your work, though, this is fine too. The main idea is to designate an area in your home where you will be spending all your working time.
Ideally, it should have a desk and an office chair where you can sit comfortably for hours on end. If necessary, rearrange your furniture to free up some room for your “cubicle.” In addition, your home office space should have some natural light falling on it. A lack of natural light for many hours may impact your mood and, thus, your performance.
A working space like this contributes to better concentration on the tasks at hand. Forget about the existence of your couch, sofa, bed, or any other places where you normally spend your leisure time. Once you take your laptop to your bed during the business day, you may easily get distracted and lose focus.
Here is how one of our employees has managed to set up her home office, for example. Looks neat and inspires for good work, doesn’t it?
#2: Get Yourself Ready for Work Every Day
Obviously, your home is your kingdom, and you can do whatever you want or look any way you want there. However, now that you have to work from home, you need to stay focused for the best productivity from the early morning till the late afternoon. One way to do that is to create your working space, as we’ve described above. Another is to prepare yourself for work in the same fashion you do before going to the office.
That means you should continue to follow your regular morning routine: brushing your teeth, taking a bath/shower, and putting on your working outfit. You can lower the degree of formality when it comes to your clothes. What matters most is that you should put on something that you don’t normally wear at home. That will help you set a kind of boundary between your home and your job.
Besides, you’re most likely going to communicate with your managers and coworkers through video calls. So, they will see you, and you will see them.
#3: Plan Your Day: Set Times for Work and Leisure
In the office, you probably have to clock in and clock out. Working at home is different. Here, you are your own boss and can decide yourself when your working day begins and ends, although some time constraints are in place as well (e.g., times for video calls).
This kind of freedom may play a bad joke with you, as it makes the line between your work and home life hard to notice. This is why it’s crucial to have a detailed plan of your day. Set down the times when you should begin and end working.
Additionally, decide when you’re going to have breaks during the day. Working uninterruptedly is not good from the productivity perspective. Get yourself into the habit of leaving your desk for 5-10 minutes every hour or so to clear your head a little before diving in your work again.
Make sure to keep this schedule day by day. Additionally, finish your work at the same time. This is sometimes a big problem for people who live alone. Since they have nothing else to do, they continue working even when it’s time to call it a day. There is time for work and time for leisure. Don’t mix the two.
To help you get into and out of the day, think of some “rituals” you normally perform in the morning and in the afternoon. If you usually have a cup of coffee before you sit down in your office chair, do this at home as well.
Find a similar ritual to perform right after your working day ends. Preferably, this should be something active. For example, you can turn on your favorite dance song and move to the rhythm. This will signal you are done for the day and can have some rest to start afresh tomorrow.
#4: Cut Distractions Down to a Minimum
Being inside your home, it’s tempting to do what you usually do when you come back from work. However, staying focused calls for removing as many distractions as possible. Here is what you can do in this respect:
- Tell your family not to disturb you while you are sitting in your working space.
- Don’t open web pages that have nothing to do with your work. Considering the current pandemic crisis, you may want to have a peek at news sites from time to time. This may throw you off course and put you in bad spirits, which can affect your productivity. Just wait until the end of the working day for updates.
- Avoid doing your usual household chores during the day.
- Avoid indulging in your hobbies during the day. For example, put off playing that new song on the guitar until you’re “home” again.
TIPS ON INTERACTING WITH YOUR COWORKERS AND MANAGEMENT
#1: Multiply the Amount of Communication You Normally Have at the Office
When you work at the office, your managers and colleagues are just a few steps away. You can talk to them in person, see their facial expressions, and hear their intonations. Thus, you know exactly what they expect from you.
It’s different when you work remotely. Text messages over Skype or Slack may be too vague or too short for you to understand what results you’re supposed to produce in your work.
For example, if you’ve texted a proposal to your supervisor and the answer was something like “OK. I’ll think about it,” how do you know what the boss actually thinks about your initiative? Has your idea annoyed him or her? Has it seemed interesting? A short conversation over Skype can clarify everything immediately.
This is why you need to have much more verbal communication with your colleagues and managers through phone or video calls, especially when tasks require prolonged discussions.
Our company follows the Scrum methodology. Every day, we have the Scrum of Scrums (SoS) meeting, where representatives of our clusters tell each other about their achievements and current assignments. Now, instead of gathering in one room, the SoS is held through the Zoom video conferencing software. It enables every meeting participant to share their screens and smoothly interact with one another.
Our clusters also have daily Scrum meetings to talk about their current tasks and plan their work. The teams are free to select a communication tool that suits them best. Normally, this is either Zoom or Skype. Talking to each every day gives our employees an opportunity to have real teamwork experience, as if they were still within the office walls.
#2: Maintain Your Normal Out-of-Work Communication
Isolation is probably the worst drawback of the remote work format. Celebrating your colleagues’ birthdays in a cafe, having a Friday pizza in the office dining-room, or chatting with your teammates over coffee in the morning — all these fun activities are out of the question for the next month or so due to the quarantine.
That, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t socialize with your coworkers the way you normally do. Use the same communication tools to reach out to other people to discuss all kinds of things unrelated to work.
Call them over Skype to see how they’re doing. Show them a photo of the first cake you’ve made with your hands or share your thoughts on a new TV series. You can even arrange a virtual meeting to have dinner together. It’s more enjoyable to share a meal with someone, even though this person is miles away.
If talking about our company, we have the Reading Club, where people from different clusters can exchange their opinions of new books they’ve read. Now that it’s impossible to get together physically, the guys are going to hold their next meeting over the same Zoom application.
Remember: the more often you have face-to-face contact with other people over the Internet, the less isolated you should feel. It’s especially important for employees who live alone.
HOLD YOUR HEADS UP — IT’S NOT FOREVER
Yes, COVID-19 is one of the worst enemies our civilization has ever had to face. With that being said, scientists in all parts of the world are tirelessly working day and night to create medicines and vaccines against it.
We don’t know how long this situation will last, but it’s not going to last forever. Meanwhile, we advise you to stay away from mass gatherings and continue working remotely by following our tips: organize your working space, get yourself ready for work every day, have a detailed working schedule, avoid distractions, and have as much virtual face-to-face communication with your teammates and managers as you can.
We would like to stress again that PSD2HTML is fully operational and provides all the regular services with no changes or interruptions, despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Get in touch with us for any web or e-commerce development tasks. We’re always happy to help.