Those fortunate enough to be able to work from home during the COVID-19 restrictions have been bombarded with advice on how to do it right. The truth is that it is much less daunting than it sounds.
When American engineer Jack Nilles coined the terms ‘teleworking’ and ‘telecommuting’ in the early 1970s, there was great excitement about the benefits of allowing people to work from home at least some of the time.
The 2019 Government paper ‘Remote Work in Ireland’ reported that 18% of people surveyed by the Central Statistics Office in 2018 worked from home, mostly one or two days per week. There is no doubt that many more people could work this way if they and/or their employer were agreeable to it.
The most important part of adjusting to working from home is to establish a routine. Human beings are creatures of habit and maintaining a schedule will help you get into the right mind set – which means getting up at the same time, showering, getting dressed and eating breakfast as usual. Avoid the temptation to dress like a slob or forget to shave/do your hair even if no one will see you.
Creating a space for work is also important. The kitchen table may look appealing but if you have young children and/or other family members in the house the kitchen is not the best place to avoid distractions – a bedroom or sitting room might be a better option during the day. Using a proper desk and chair will reduce the likelihood of discomfort from bad posture.
Having referred to the importance of routine, it might sound contradictory to say that you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t manage to complete every task within the time you have allocated to it.
If you are worried about your ability to get everything done, think about the time you would spend getting to and from your place of work. Then calculate how much of your day is taken up with tasks that are not part of your job, such as helping a colleague with a presentation or giving them a bit of advice about a project.
Every working day is different so don’t get too stressed if it doesn’t go exactly to plan, but also don’t let it drag on – it is important to separate work time from personal/family time.
An aspect of working from home that many people find hard to adjust to is the social isolation. But with modern communications technology there is no reason why you can’t stay in touch with colleagues while working from home. There are many ways to share files and collaborate – and this communication does not have to be limited to work-related activities.
All over the world, people used to working in teams from the same location have set up virtual ‘pub chats’ where they can hang out after working hours.
There is every possibility that more employers will allow staff to work from home even after society returns to normal. Using this time to create a routine that works for you will make this transition so much easier.