In a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19, many companies have decided to institute either a full or partial work from home policy. On top of that, social distancing has become the call of the hour as well. While this might make social introverts happy in the short-term, the restrictions can cause frustration.
At the same time, as nice as the idea of lounging in your pyjamas and working in bed might sound, the fact of the matter is that working from home requires some adjustment. Since we, at TCR, have a flexible work from home policy, which our team often makes use of, we have some experience with this. Even as we currently work from home, we have our processes in place to be able to ride this enforced social isolation out indefinitely.
If you’re wondering how you will stay disciplined and focussed or how you can set boundaries with your family, we’ve got you covered. We’ve got ideas on how to communicate effectively, how to stay connected to your colleagues, and even how you can entertain yourself when you’re not working. If you’re looking for ways to prevent yourself from pulling your hair out or climbing up the walls due to social distancing, we’ve also got you covered there.
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Working from home comes with its own set of challenges especially if this is the first time you are actually doing it. Here are some tips on how to navigate this new form of working.
Here’s the thing. Working from home doesn’t mean you’re on holiday. Cutting out your commute, spending the day in your pyjamas, spending time on social media sites or on Netflix while working from your bed – it’s easy to become undisciplined when faced with such a deviation from your routine. Who’ll know, right? Just because your manager isn’t sitting at a desk around the corner (or behind you), doesn’t mean they won’t notice the sharp dip in your productivity.
So, you need to discipline yourself from the beginning. Remember, work from home is a privilege and if you don’t follow through, you may be asked to come into office and risk exposing yourselves and others to coronavirus.
Here are some easy steps to ensure you’re in the right mindset to work.
It is important to set boundaries at home with flatmates and family. Let them know that you are working and should not be disturbed. This is especially true for women who get roped into a lot of domestic duties when they are working from home.
Here are some tips on how to navigate this:
Have a dedicated space for your work. No, you don’t need to go out and buy a desk and unnecessary stationery like staplers (pick up the gorgeous notebooks and funky pens though!). Just clear out a space for yourself from where you can work effectively. It could be your dining table or a comfortable spot on the couch or even your bed. Devanshi and Oishani work from their beds while Nirbhay has a separate desk to work from.
If you have flatmates, try to work in separate locations, so you don’t distract each other.
Once you’ve found your space, set up everything you need to be productive there. A useful addition could be this nifty folding bed-desk to help turn your bed into a more comfortable workstation. Keep some water nearby so you stay hydrated without having to make frequent trips to the kitchen. It’s also a good idea to keep biscuits or a bag of trail mix nearby for moments when you feel a little peckish. Get up every hour or so to walk around the space you’re working in.
If you miss the humdrum of office, you can use a tool like Coffitivity to mimic the background noise of a coffee shop. Devanshi uses this tool often and absolutely loves it because it helps her focus. Alternatively, you can also listen to some of your favourite music or try out one of the tools here.
If you are using video calls to host meetings, make sure you’re in a place with good lighting and less to no background noise. Doing it in a place with children running around or your flatmates playing beer pong really does not speak well of you. Make sure you’re appropriately dressed at least from the waist up. (At the same time, if you do choose to be casually dressed waist down, avoid getting up during the call!)
Your screen should be adjusted properly during the call. Remember, it doesn’t shout ‘professional’ if your team/manager is forced to look up your nostril or spend the entire meeting looking at your chin.
Keep everything you need for the meeting ready, so you don’t have to step away from the screen. That includes notebooks, pens, your talking points, and water.
Maintain eye contact when you are talking and make sure you are attentive while listening to others talk.
And please, don’t eat during the meeting!
In short, behave the way you would during an in-person meeting. Remember, people can see you.
While it is important to be on time even if you are working from home, it is equally important to ‘leave’ on time. It can be easy to let your day stretch later than usual because you don’t have a particular train to catch or any other social commitments to meet. So, make sure you decide on a time when you will switch off from work and do your best to stick to it.
At the same time, ensure you carve out time for lunch and inform your team that you will be unavailable during that time. Don’t forget to let them know once you’re back. However, lunch hour does not mean that you use that time to cook yourself a meal as well. Instead, plan ahead and cook your meal in advance.
Prasanna does all the household duties including cleaning, cooking and laundry. But, she plans for it and does it in advance so she isn’t distracted during office hours. She keeps lunch ready so all she has to do is heat it up when she’s ready to eat. This way she doesn’t panic about lunch nor does she end up eating junk food.
Here’s a handy guide on the building blocks of a good schedule.
It is easy to feel isolated while working from home. You don’t end up taking a tea break to speak with your colleagues about the latest injustice done to you by your boss. You can’t just walk over to a team member and ask for help. However, you can still use virtual tools (like WhatsApp) to chat with each other and even collaborate. You can schedule that into your day or just have an impromptu chat after work.
For work purposes, we highly recommend asking your managers to set up a Slack workspace. The TCR team uses it on a daily basis and it is one of the reasons we work so well even when we are all at home. We love the neat inbuilt tool which allows us to send GIFs to each other. This helps us destress. Although there are times when we wish we could unsee the GIFs, especially the ones Prasanna sends.
Working from home can also lead to excessive snacking between meals. At the same time, skipping meals is not the solution since you do need the energy to help you stay alert and focussed.
While social distancing might sound like fun for a day or two (especially when it’s out of choice), an enforced period of the same can work out to be the reverse. Let’s face it, we depend on our interactions with our social circles, in one form or the other. But, there are still ways to have fun while you’re stuck at home and to make the most of this time.
With your commuting hours now available, use them to up your skills. Spend your now-free time learning something new.
This is also a good time to catch up on some of those over five minutes reads that you’d bookmarked a while ago but never got around to reading. If you’re looking for resources to find good long-forms, try:
Let’s face it, the TCR team loves to read. We wouldn’t be doing what we do if we didn’t. And, we always make the most of any extra time to do more reading. Here are some options to help you read (or read more!).
Just because you can’t go to the gym, doesn’t mean you can’t exercise at home. Build it into your schedule. Set aside a time to exercise. This can also be a good way to segue from work mode to home mode or just a great way to kickstart your day.
Exercising isn’t the only way to stay healthy; eating right and living right is just as important. Check out these resources that will help you do just that:
Unless you live at home, you probably have a bai to cook food for you or you tend to live on take out. Assuming (and hoping) you’ve given your bai some paid time off and are avoiding take out, you’re now left to fend for your own meals. Why not try to cook during your free time instead of eating junk food (and yes, Maggi is junk food even if you add vegetables to it)?
Hobbies are great for keeping you occupied while indulging your creativity. Devanshi likes to engage in some form of crafts when she has some extra time. It gets her creative juices flowing as she creates something new. Rhea likes to put on music and dance her stress away. Oishani likes to bake and experiment with salted caramel sauce. It helps her focus while creating something new for her family (and the TCR team) to eat.
Use this time to discover a new hobby or rediscover an old one. Read. Paint. Cook. Dance. Dust off your guitar. Indulge in some photography. Write. Here are some ideas.
Screen Adaptations Of Books
A More General List
Starting April 2, every week the National Theatre will be streaming one of their performances for free. You can watch them on their YouTube channel.
You can also organise a virtual happy hour with your friends and indulge in multiplayer games via video chat.