While some companies are freaking out over their emergency transition to the digital home office due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's been business as usual for the Daily Sabah. Many of us are accustomed to working from home. It has become a part of our company culture. However, not everyone will find this transition so easy. Even for us, spending day after day with no in-person social contact and not having face-to-face meetings have been issues we have had to work around.
The rise of more flexible work arrangements is nothing new, but it is a fact that COVID-19 has sped things up quite a bit.
Working from home allows you to be more flexible and improves your work-life balance. It reduces the stress that comes with the time spent on an overcrowded metro or stuck in a traffic jam every day. However, working from home may present new challenges. When your home suddenly becomes your workplace, it might be hard to concentrate on tasks or to figure out when to stop being available. This often leads to home office workers never calling it a day.
Turkish-German labor economics expert Ufuk Altun recommends setting strict rules for working at home in advance. Having fixed timeframes in which you have to be available, for example, makes it easier for you to shut down the computer at the end of the day.
If there are no regulations, employees tend to overwork themselves, Altun says. And if the limits between work and free time aren't clearly demarcated, employees quickly become demotivated, studies have shown.
While some people enjoy the peace and quiet of working from home, others might miss inspiring or just plain, old, everyday chats with colleagues. In addition, it might be more difficult to assess your contributions to the team when you are only working from home.
At the end of the day, work is work, whether you do in an office or within your own four walls. This means two things if you're working from home: First, you're expected to deliver the same availability and performance as in the office. And second, you also have the same rights – rest breaks and punctual end time, for example.
Here are some tried-and-true tips from our experience:
Create the proper environment
Having clear to-do lists and deadlines is especially important when you're working from home. To make remote work possible, what you need first and foremost is a suitable digital infrastructure, i.e. access to important files, emails and tools. Employees should avail IT support from their company for this and not try to jury-rig solutions themselves. Companies are also responsible for providing their employees with the necessary software and hardware, in some cases.
Have your own workspace: Ideally, your work and private life are clearly separated when you work from home – spatially too. Having a closed door really helps to block out unwanted noise from other people in the household. If you are living in a studio flat or have a smaller home, having an area designated as your office space can also help. This will make it easier to switch into, and out of, work mode.
Stay in contact
Out of sight, out of mind? To keep this from happening, homeworkers should regularly contact their colleagues via chat, email, phone or voicemail. It's generally better to overcommunicate than to under-communicate – don't be afraid to be specific or overexplain yourself because a lot of feelings and emphasis is lost through nonverbal, in-text communication. Videoconferencing will also help you to feel close to your colleagues again, and don't hesitate to take a few minutes to natter about personal matters.
Set specific times for rest breaks, and keep them, if the nature of your work allows it. And when your workday is done, you should switch off your company mobile phone or laptop – if, of course, your job doesn't normally require you to be on-call 24/7.
A cluttered space is a cluttered mind. Your efficiency and productivity are directly associated with the tidiness of your working space. Try to be as organized as you are at the office. If small trinkets, plants and pictures distract you, get them out of sight; if you want your desk to be personal and motivate you, do exactly that.
Preparing your meals ahead of time, especially the night before will save you a lot of time and help you plan your days accordingly. Especially if you are in self-isolation, this will also help you identify what's been missing from your pantry to help remind you on your next shopping trip. It will also save you from spending your precious lunch break cooking food.
Put your face on
If you usually do your makeup and hair in the mornings before you go to work try to keep up this routine. Especially skincare-wise, you might be tempted to skip everything all together, but sticking to a solid routine will not only help you feel refreshed and better about yourself but it will also help you mentally by providing consistency in such uncertain times. The same goes for getting dressed. Some people could be accustomed to working the way they rolled out of bed, but many experts advise workers to at least wear something other than pajamas (but maybe skip the suit).
Being stuck at home all day means you are more likely to stay on your couch or sit in your chair all day; however, it's important to regularly get some exercise and at least stand up and pace around indoors in short intervals. If you are lucky enough to have a garden or have a park nearby, going for a walk on your lunch break is also a good idea – just don't forget to keep the distance. And also don't forget to drink water.