Thinking Beyond Working From Home

By Nilmani Ruwanthika Menikge

The Coronavirus pandemic has forced all of us (individually and collectively) to re-think every aspect of our lives. One such aspect is our approach to work. Currently, businesses are forced to change traditional modes of operations for at least white-collar jobs, where most of the work is conducted at an ‘office’. This situation is like to stick in a post-pandemic world, where working from home will be more mainstream.

However, working from home does have some real challenges for everyone involved. Let’s look at some of these challenges and how to resolve them:

Common Challenges:

  1. It’s very common for some to end-up working too hard while others have difficulty focusing on work.

  2. Lack of supervision and coordination will make working from home ineffective, especially if you and your co-workers are not accustomed to such a decentralized mode of operations.

  3. It’s easy to get your self distracted (kids/spouse, choirs at home, TV, and social media).

  4. Working from home for a prolonged period can be daunting, eventually leading to a lack of motivation.

Here are some tips:

  1. Give yourself a dedicated/comfortable workplace where you can avoid your kids, pets, noises, and other distractions. It is better if you can find a workroom that you can close the door to avoid noises. If it helps, explain to your family members that working from home is not a vacation!

  2. Make a schedule and stick to it. Coordinate with your team members to create routines, agree on meeting times, and break periods where it’s possible. This will help everyone avoid surprises and be effective as a team while still maintaining work-life balance.

  3. Stick to a morning routine before starting work. Jumping on the bed and start working with your pajama suit is not the way to go.

  4. In the evening, you can write notes of pending stuff and plan the next day.

  5. Protect your work-life balance. You need to respect your working hours; when you are off you are off.

  6. Take breaks and take meals on time.

Challenges for Managers:

  1. Extra effort to coordinate with team(s) than in an office setting.

  2. Lack of visibility into the current status, especially if you and/or your team is new to working from home.

Here are some tips:

  1. Establish structured daily check-ins. Set the agenda for meetings. Write meeting notes and circulate.

  2. Get yourself trained in relevant processes and tools/technologies. Experiment to figure out what helps your team move forward and what does not. Keep in mind that process/tools/technology is only there to help your team progress. It’s possible that what worked for Team A does not work for Team B!

  3. Provide several different communication technology options.

  4. Provide opportunities for remote social interaction.

  5. Offer encouragement and emotional support to your team.