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Global companies, from the UK to the US, Japan to South Korea, have recently rolled out mandatory work-from-home policies amid the spread of the new virus.
Working from home will become the new normal for many. Some employees will be working from home for the first time, and need to figure out how to stay on task.
The key to working from home is clear communication with your boss. Your manager might not be used to managing people virtually or may not have a ready-to-go suite of tools for remote workers.
To prevent a breakdown in communication, you need to know exactly what's expected of you from day-to-day. Ask your boss for a 10-minute video call to start and end the day. Reach out to coworkers and managers regularly so that you won't get forgotten.
The abrupt shift from an office to a home environment could leave you struggling to get used to the sudden change.
Try to sustain a semblance of normalcy. Try virtual pizza parties or remote happy hours. Celebrate birthdays, give public praise for goals reached, and projects completed. Make time for casual conversations.
These are stressful times. You may worry about negative headlines or sick loved ones and put off communicating with your colleagues, contributing to feelings of isolation, which may lead to depression.
Solutions to this include as much face-to-face interaction online as possible through video calls, regular manager check-ins, and regular meetings with no agenda, like grabbing coffee or a drink.
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A remote worker has a constant blind-spot and is not able to use their full senses to gauge and tweak their work. This also makes them anxious and feel disconnected from the office proceedings. If handling a team remotely, ensure that the reporting/tracking of their work is transparent.
It helps to come prepared in meetings and answer questions in writing while providing a trace of context in your email/chat. Having a preset plan covering a couple of days helps reduce the constant interactions.
Transparency of communication ensures minimum ambiguity.
Use video communication as it provides an emotional connection with the team, ensuring that the equipment is working properly and there is no echo on the microphone/headphone.
Have at least two modes of internet connections available, broadband/fiber along with wi-fi.
To give your day structure, keep the same routine as when you went into an office. Get up at the same time and make a to-do list. Check in with the same person every morning.
Pick a place for your office away from distraction.
Boundaries also apply to other people who may be sharing the same space. Children can work alongside you as if they were coming to the office.
You won't have the same cues as you do from your workplace to remind you to get up or get lunch. When you lose the pace of your day, everything can start to blend together.
Treat your exercise, meals and stretch breaks as you would any other meeting. Put it on your calendar, at least to start.