At the moment, no one can hide from the news about COVID-19, as well as from its comprehensive penetration and interference into people’s lives. This pandemic establishes new orders, implements new rules, and we are obliged to obey and accept it.
Many countries implement quarantine or declare emergency mode, and these orders affect many specialists all over the world. We cannot deny: these are the harsh conditions and challenging times, especially when it comes to working.
If you are unemployed or your company provides you with a vacation, you can use quarantine and self-isolation to do the things you couldn’t do before.
For instance, start to learn a new language, watch all the series you wanted, read that heavy book without interruption, at last, check the new releases of antivirus software and decide on which antivirus is best for Windows 10.
If you are an IT specialist, quarantine might be a severe test for you, demanding more inner resources and organization skills.
If you are a freelance specialist, probably, quarantine measures affect you slightly: most freelancers work at home or cafes, keeping such self-isolation.
However, if you still don’t know how to deal with working at home and keeping the balance between your job and personal life, or don’t understand how to organize your working process at all, this article will also be helpful for you.
All in all, we are here to help you to work from home and be more productive during the harsh quarantine times. Want to know how to stick to the smooth working process? Keep on reading!
Where to Start?
How do we work and adapt our organizations to new realities?
With the spread of COVID-19, which forces anyone who returns from abroad to switch to a two-week self-quarantine, with the emergence of preventive quarantine in public establishments and organizations, – the prospect of working at home, but being involved and productive remotely becomes relevant for a wide range of managers and employees.
Many managers and employers complain that personal participation in any meeting is low. Although, in our view, it very much depends on each of us, on the moderator, on communication, on our competence to work virtually.
Among the downsides are loneliness and sometimes the inability at a distance to feel the atmosphere behind a skype or messenger.
Among the advantages is the opportunity to focus and see the important thing that sometimes remains invisible in the routine of office life.
How to Organize the Working Process During COVID-19 Self-Isolation?
6 Work From Home Tips For Newbie Team Leads
The authors of Harvard Business Review – Heidi Gardner of Harvard Law School, author of “Smart Collaboration: How Professionals and Their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos,” and Ivan Matviak, co-founder of Gardner & Company – recommend several strategies to all leaders who understand that with the crisis the usual scheme of work, communication in the team and with clients will be violated.
1) Specify and Prescribe the Purpose and a Role
Black swan events, like COVID-19, generates new challenges and opportunities for business. Managers are forced to adjust and refine goals constantly at the team and individual levels to focus their colleagues’ attention on the priorities.
Moving to remote work is a great opportunity for each team member to make sure that they understand the common goals, their particular role in achieving these goals; and for managers to see how each person contributes to the result.
Clarifying roles in the team helps people understand who they can ask for help except for managers, reducing the bottleneck effect on leaders. Check on the to-do list, which constantly expands during a crisis. And when you rethink goals, think about who gets the task, and make sure that changing goals are shared with the entire team.
2) Accentuate the Interaction
People who suddenly start working at home are likely to feel excluded and lonely, which will reduce their productivity and engagement. Managers or young team leads, especially those who aren’t used to managing virtual teams, may feel the stress of having to keep the team focused on the priorities. In these circumstances, it is very important not to forget anyone.
Those on the periphery of the team are less likely to access information or resources and influence some decisions. Researchers recommend compiling a list of current core and non-core team members with their photographs and keeping them before the eyes to make more conscious decisions about the distribution of responsibilities and information.
3) Plan Regular Meetings and Calls
Set the time for the team to organize the meeting even virtually. It is easier to cancel a meeting, if needed, than to gather in the last minutes of a conversation, creating additional problems in everyone’s busy schedule.
If you’re only gathering ad hoc, you risk excluding people who are either too busy to join or, for some reason, are out of sight.
3) Create the Virtual Coffee Machine
Determine the time for personal updates, small conversations not only about work during the working week. It keeps a team spirit.
Also, set norms according to which people should regularly call each other if necessary, rather than wait for scheduled meetings.
4) Keep Personal Contact
Instead of relying solely on email, use FaceTime, video conferencing, web chat, and finally, calls.
These forms of communication are more personal, allowing team members to read each other’s emotions and support. They also improve decision-making by effectively introducing alternative voices into the conversation and allowing people to discuss ideas more fully.
5) Normalize New Working Environments
Housework poses new threats to distraction and sometimes leads to misunderstandings. The more members of your team know about each other’s surroundings, the better they can understand each other’s behavior.
It is known that the fundamental error of attribution is the tendency to explain another person’s behavior as a personality trait while reducing the influence of situational factors.
6) Organize a Virtual Tour on Non-Conventional Workplace
At the beginning of remote work, encourage each person to show the team their home environment, and share a specific personal context. Let them tell you what can interfere – barking dogs, noisy truck travel, or children coming home from school? The goal is to help colleagues develop an understanding of the other person’s working context so they can be more sensitive to each other’s circumstances.
3 Work From Home Tips For Teams
Many companies, even Google and Facebook themselves, have moved their teams to remote work. First of all, you need to make sure that you and your teammates are equipped with all the tools and processes you need before moving from office to home.
After you move to remote work, you can perform several additional steps to work more efficiently:
1) Create an Online Group
This helps your team to stay connected easily. A group with e-mail addresses of all team members allows you to exchange information quickly, and a chat room can be used for quick discussion.
2) Provide Access to Documents
Check access to essential documents so employees can edit them and comment if needed. You can even create a shared drive where your team can store, search, and access files from any device.
3) Plan Meetings in Advance
Set up events in the calendar, create a discussion plan, and attach relevant documents to the event. Also, make sure everyone knows how to use video conferencing.
Now, when you are ready to work at home, it is critical to interact with your teammates. Here are some tips on how to organize this:
- Meet daily to stay in touch with your colleagues — Working at home can be perceived as isolation, so video conferencing is a great way to communicate.
- Present relevant content and ask questions to keep the conversation going — If time-zones prevent everyone from joining the call, record it.
- Share tasks and updates regularly — Whether it’s a chat or a joint document that everyone is updating, or a record of what’s been done, is a great way to stay connected, inform and monitor the performed work. You can also create an internal site to consolidate important information and resources in one place for your team or to share information more widely with your organization.
- Observe working etiquette — Just because your team members aren’t in the office doesn’t mean they’re not busy. Check your colleagues’ Google calendars before scheduling the call. Specify first whether it is convenient for your colleague to talk now before chatting. You can also inform your colleagues about your own availability by setting up working hours and calendar status. So if a team member tries to schedule a meeting with you outside of business hours, they will receive a notification.
4 Work From Home Tips for Everybody Else
1) The Work Area
The first item in this list is the work area. Ideally, it should be a separate room, but not everyone has that opportunity. So it has to be a table that will be located where sunlight gets in
Use a Convenient chair. Hours of computer work strongly affect your back and shoulders. To avoid this, the chair must be of the right height, have a back, and generally be comfortable for you.
A computer is much more comfortable than a laptop, so it can be located right before your eyes at the necessary height.
- If the top line of text on the monitor is at eye level, you have positioned the computer correctly.
- The minimum recommended distance from the screen to the face is 40 cm, and the ideal option is half a meter.
- If you have a laptop, experts advise you to connect a separate keyboard to it to avoid excessive tension in your hands.
- You need to keep your desktop clean. Once a day, treat your keyboard, mouse, or touchpad with antiseptic means, and before you sit down at work, you need to wash your hands at least for 30 seconds.
3) Don’t Ignore Your Health
Work is important, but we do not forget about health
- Drink water! — A person needs to drink 2 liters a day, and during work, you can forget about it.
- It is important to ventilate the room regularly — If more than one person is working in the room – ventilating every hour is mandatory.
- Physical exercises — Doctors advise you to do simple exercises once an hour. So you take a break for the brains, trigger blood circulation in the body, and remove the load of your hands and back.
- Food —The first rule is, don’t eat at your desk. It’s not hygienic or helpful, you won’t become more productive. A meal break must be complete to improve productivity.
- Of course, you can take some light snacks — it should be really easy because while you’re home, you can run to the fridge at any moment. But remember that it is better to eat an apple than to bring steak from the kitchen to your laptop.
4) Don’t Be Overwhelmed
Working at home is hard because loved ones forget that you at work all the time. You shouldn’t be distracted, so you need to talk about it with the people nearby. Make a rule that while you’re busy working, they can’t talk to you at all.
Make sure the Internet works steadily. Perhaps earlier capacity was enough, but when several people started working from home – there may be problems.
When nerves are already at the limit, use breathing exercises to calm down. Psychotherapists advise you to breathe with your nose for 5-7 minutes.
Threats like COVID-19 certainly affect our work, communication, interactions, and even relationships. But every crisis is an opportunity not only to achieve goals but also to use this time to explore new ways of working and reconsider old assumptions that will probably help you in the long run.
So, during the self-isolation, you need to mobilize your inner resources to stay productive, to keep your working process safe and sound.