For most of us, working remotely has gone from a luxury we’re afforded at work every now and again, to a new daily reality which has become much less luxurious.
From back aches and cramps to endless distractions, working at home full-time can be challenging. If you’re not careful, video conference calls, which are meant to bring the workforce together, can actually have the opposite effect, your work/life balance can tip too far towards one direction, and having your loved ones around might make your day harder than you might have imagined. Below we look at these challenges and some ways how our team at TravelSuit is overcoming them.
Back-to-back meetings in the office have always been a hard pill to swallow, but most of our daily interactions would be with colleagues a few desks away or just down the hall. These days, however, if you’re not careful, every interaction can become a meeting.
Whether it’s Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or any other video conferencing tool, the ‘fatigue’ is real. What can you do about it?
Make sure your calls follow an agenda. When preparing for your next meeting, make sure you know exactly what needs to be discussed and how long you have to discuss it. Everyone should prepare to be as concise as possible and speak only about the relevant topics to cut down the length of the meeting.
Have less meetings. This is the time to do that ‘cleanse’ you’ve been waiting to do on your meeting schedule. Try erasing all the meetings you have coming up and then think carefully on which are absolutely crucial--those are the ones you can add back onto your calendar.
Occasionally move to a call/chat. If for no other reason than to diversify your day, you might find it useful to change a video meeting to a phone call or chat. That way you can also get some steps in while discussing the topic at hand.
One of the challenges of working from home is that your work/life balance can become a bit unbalanced. Keeping the two worlds separate is important not only for your mental wellbeing, but also for your performance in both areas of life.
Have a home office. Not everyone has a spare room to make into an office and that’s fine. What can be helpful, though, is to designate a specific area of your house to work--it can be your bedroom, your kitchen, wherever. This can create a signal for your body that when you leave this area, your work day is over.
Build a schedule and stick to it. Decide what time you will start working, what time you will take off for lunch (and any other smaller breaks), and what time you will end your working day. Don’t forget to stick to the schedule! Structuring your work day can make it that much easier to balance your life correctly.
Leave the house. Being cooped up all day is no good and moving between designated ‘work areas’ and ‘leisure areas’ might not be enough to give you a proper mental break from your work. That’s why you should consider leaving the house on a break, eating lunch in a park, etc., to properly disconnect for a moment. Also consider spending time with other people over breaks and/or lunch--a friend or family member can provide a good distraction.
One of the major challenges that this pandemic has introduced is home-learning. If that is happening in your home, working from home can be even more of a challenge, but fear not, there are ways of making this work as well.
Create a schedule for everyone. Both you and your children will need structure in your day, otherwise things will quickly get out of hand. Creating a schedule can help everyone know exactly when they should be studying, when is time for lunch, etc. This is a structure children are used to at school, so as long as you make sure to abide by it, they should follow suit at home.
Build your schedule around your child’s needs. This may mean waking up a bit earlier, or going to sleep a bit later, but you’ll want some of your ‘free time’ to coincide with the needs of your children--when do they start classes? When would they eat lunch? Knowing in advance when you’re needed can help you build a realistic schedule that you can stick to. Luckily, most employers are aware of this and are flexible with employee WFH working hours.
Get help! Social distancing might prevent you from having a sitter or a family member over to help, but that doesn’t mean they can’t interact with the kids remotely. For many people, having a grandparent occupy a child’s time over video by helping them with work or reading them a book has given them some much needed relief.
Working from home is undoubtedly a challenge for many, and like anything else, it just takes getting used to. It’s unclear when exactly the pandemic will be over and when things will go back to a semblance of normality, which is why it’s important to take the present situation seriously. Following these tips can help ensure that you (and your family) have a structured day that will enable you to succeed both at work and at home, in a way that’s sustainable for the long haul.
Good luck to us all!