The work-from-home workforce recently got a big push from the current global health pandemic. To counter the uncertainties presented by COVID 19, many businesses have opted to let their employees work from home.
To many Kenyans, working from home is a new experience – especially to casual workers who earn their living from daily incomes, while to others, it’s a continuation of their normal routine. As appealing as remote work sounds, it comes with a set of challenges. The abundance of alluring snacks in the kitchen and the temptation to work in any position, such as the bed, can sabotage an otherwise committed individual’s best intentions to remain productive and get the work done.
That said, here are key rules you should keep in mind when working from home.
Create a Healthy Routine
Deciding to sit down at your designated workspace and start working at a certain time is one thing. Creating a healthy routine that helps you stay on track is another.
What you include in your routine indicates what you’re supposed to do at a specific time. It might be waking up early in the morning, taking a shower, preparing a cup of coffee, and getting dressed like you’re going to the office.
Creating a routine can significantly help you get started each day while working from home.
Set Up a Designated Workspace
In an ideal workplace, employees would have a dedicated office with probably two computers – one for work and one for personal use. But not everyone has designated office space at home, and having two monitors isn’t always realistic. So, creating a productive work environment at home starts with a neat and clutter-free place with the right tools and equipment for work use. For instance, ensure you have the following:
- A good monitor or laptop, with a mouse and an external keyboard
- A desk and office chair – include a pillow for lower back support.
- A microphone for communication and a power source if you can get one.
Also, when setting up a work station, make sure there is enough air and lighting preferably near a window.
Schedule Regular Breaks
Working remotely means you’ll get more done as there are fewer distractions. While this may sound like a good trend, sometimes you may be tempted to over-commit and work too much, which often kills productivity.
Having regulars breaks in between your working hours can help you relax and recharge while you prepare for the next session. Use your breaks to get away from your desk. Step out of the house and take a walk, spend time with other people, and stretch. Have a timer that reminds you when to get up and walk away from your work station. The idea is to ensure you don’t work yourself to exhaustion without having a break.
One of the advantages of working remotely is flexibility. This means that no one is following up with what you’re doing. Also, no one tells you it’s time to stop checking your email every few minutes. A simple message from a colleague is all it takes to initiate a lengthy conversation that keeps you from getting things done. Even in normal situations, family and home demands can impinge on remote work.
Beating these distractions could be as simple as turning off phone or desktop notifications when you’re working. You can also switch to airplane mode to avoid sudden calls from colleagues.
If you have company while working from home, make sure any siblings, roommates, spouses, parents, and pets know the rules about what they can and cannot do during your working hours. If they want to reach you during working hours, inform them that they can either knock before coming in, slide a note under the door, or text when necessary. When you’re done with work, show up 100 percent and put your business phone and tools away.
Mark the End of the Workday with a Ritual
The same way you start your workday with a routine, create a custom that indicates the end of a working day. Like commuting workers, whose packing up and leaving the office means the end of a workday, set a reminder on your phone or clock to remind you that your working hours have come to an end. It might also be signing off on a business messaging application, a yoga class, or simply shutting down your computer. Think of a bonding activity that you could take part in with your loved ones to close out the day. Whatever you prefer to do, stick to it to mark the end of working hours.
Working from home is exciting with numerous benefits such as flexibility, minimal destructions, less time wasted in commuting, more productivity, and more. Equally, there are several challenges such as staying focused, planning, foresight, and self-discipline.
Finding a balance doesn’t come overnight. But working within your routine and finding ways to keep you motivated can help you work effectively and productively. Keep making the necessary adjustments to improve. Eventually, every routine will become natural, and you will start to experience growth in ways you never imagined.