We’re four months into Lockdown in South Africa and remote working has become the norm for many. If it’s not going as smoothly as you’d hoped, here are some useful tips to help you find the right balance.
Dress for Success: One of the number one tips suggested by many professionals is: ditch the pyjamas! Don’t succumb to the temptation to roll out of bed and straight into your day’s work. Pretend that you are in fact leaving the house and going to the office and do your usual morning grooming and dressing. This helps to shift your state of mind and emotion and allows you to step freshly into your work day.
Optimise your workspace: Another key factor to successful remote working is to have a clear and dedicated workspace. Working from the couch or your bed is not advisable! A comfortable desk and chair, preferably in a quiet spot, is ideal. While you may have practical limitations in your living space to accommodate this, do your best to create a productive work nook.
Keep a daily routine: While some flexibility is necessarily going to be required, it is a good idea to stick to a basic, regular routine, with some variation. If you’re saving on commuting time, utilise the additional time to cook a healthy breakfast or to start your day off with some exercise. Identify and stick to times for breaks and meals and try commit to start and finish times for your work day.
Take into account your natural times of alertness and best productivity and try to tailor your day around that. If you’re an early bird, aim to get your most challenging tasks done as early possible. If you have to juggle duties and responsibilities for the kids with your partner, plan your schedule accordingly.
One of the common challenges faced by remote workers is burnout, as very often they end up working longer hours and at higher intensity, due to fewer of the distractions usually encountered in office environments. So be sure to delineate work/home boundaries clearly, as the two can very easily merge.
Accept and manage distractions: Although you may have less interruptions than at the office, you will also be dealing with several distractions at home! Kids and family matters, the washing, the doorbell, what to eat for lunch, the latest news or social media activity, may all be challenges that you are now having to navigate through. Accept that there will be some degree of distraction at home that is unavoidable but do your best to manage these so that they don’t completely derail your attention and productivity.
Stay connected: While you may be joining regular team or work meetings online and staying connected on the work front, it’s quite possible that you are missing the ‘passage conversations’ and social interactions you used to share with colleagues. Be sure to reach out to colleagues and make time for informal chats and catchups. Don’t forget the importance of the people you work with – it’s not only about the work itself!
Stay healthy: More than ever, it is critical to take care of yourself. Pay attention to your physical, emotional and psychological needs and ensure that you take steps to address these needs. Get some exercise and as much fresh air outdoors as you can – nature is a great reset for the stressed and anxious state of being. Eat healthy foods and boost your immunity with supplements if needed. Stay connected with friends and family and speak with a trusted friend or therapist if you find yourself struggling emotionally.
If there’s one thing we’re learning from this Lockdown experience, it’s that we are all human. We all have good and bad days and we all have times of needing support and understanding. The kindness that we are able to offer to others and to ourselves during this time is vital for us to maintain our well-being.