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Is Remote Working Your New Normal?

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​Working from home may seem like a dream for many people. That is until you’ve had to do it yourself in an extended period of self-isolation. Your mind can wander without having the feel of a work environment around you, or you may start feeling lonely (especially for us extroverts). This is why it’s important to set ground rules with the people (and pets!) you share your space with.

A big challenge we all face is how to stay focused in this new environment. Here's five tips to making working from home, work for you:

1) Create a specific working space: Find yourself a comfortable spot where you can have your work set-up, away from the couch (and definitely the bed!) that you can associate with your job and leave when you're done working. 

 2) Communication: Go beyond communicating via emails and make the most of Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other video conferencing methods when communicating with your colleagues, manager or direct reports. This will help both you and the person you're communicating with feel less self-isolated, keep team camaraderie and there's no such thing as over communication in a time like this to ensure everyone is on the same page.

3) Plan: Time spent working remotely is better if structured. The most significant change is the temporary elimination of face-to-face. Spend some time to define what is critical and possible to do in this new situation. Meetings that remain vital will be virtual. Have set days / times for team meetings and one on one catch ups so everyone knows what the plan and expectations are, to prepare for this. Expect to have more time for task-oriented work that you lead and define on your own. You'll have time added to your day by not doing a daily commute but you'll need to save time in your lunch break with cooking sessions (if you normally get take-out) so best to plan your meals ahead of the working day. 

4) Routine: While the flexibility to raid the fridge every 10 minutes or roll out of the bed in your pj's and get working can be appealing, it's important to keep a certain discipline and routine in order to remain productive. Having a shower in the morning, getting dressed and eating breakfast will help you feel like you're in work mode. Let your teammates know the time you'll be online for each day so that there is a level of accountability with the hours you will work each day.

 5) Self-care: Research shows that your health and well-being can take a hit when working from home. Carve out time to go for a walk, get fresh air, exercise and take a break. In a time where you may be questioning the stability of your job, productivity and happiness, these actions will help with your mental health. You might not have a fully equipped gym at home but can still do home workouts (this is a personal favourite of mine).

For working parents who are in lock down with kids, your new normal probably is constant visits (interruptions) from your young ones. Just remember that you're not alone and it's likely to also be your colleagues, managers and/or clients that are trying to work out how parenting and work responsibilities can co-exist! Here's a few tips that might be helpful during this time:

  • Communicate clearly with your children when you are in work mode and need to not be interrupted. Establish the boundaries and expectations as best as you can. Understanding your daily schedule well in advance is key to help prepare your family for when you're taking an important client or conference call and need to work undisturbed.

  • Take Shifts - if you and your significant other are both working from home then support each other so that you can both get periods in the day of focused working time, while the other is keeping an eye on the children. Sharing your working schedules, and important meetings, in advance will help you achieve this.

  • If you work part-time over e.g. 3 days per week, you might find it useful to ask your employer if you can spread your work over 5 days at reduced hours to make staying home with children work better for you. Likewise, working at times when your children are sleeping, at night, could be a possibility to make up hours lost during the day. 

  • If you have school-aged children, taking an approach of working when your kids are occupied with homework or an activity, but checking in with them every so often so they feel that they're also getting your attention, could help achieve a balance that works for you.

  • Once your children start watching TV, playing with their electronic devices or get in front of the PlayStation you might find it hard to get them off. Try and get them involved in other activities first until they get bored! then you'll have the electronics up your sleeve as a last resort to get some peace later in the day.

One positive with remote-working in a lock down period is that employers and managers will both gain an understanding of the benefits and challenges of remote working, on a full team-scale. Many clients we work with have toyed with the idea of remote working but haven't practiced this within their own firms or organisations. The next few weeks can be treated as a trial period to assess how staff at all levels have found remote working, the ability to communicate and be productive during this period. If it works well, and employers feel they can extend that trust to their employees, then there may be the ability to provide greater flexibility in terms of remote-access to working to employees in future.

Job hunting can be full of uncertainty. But with us, you can be sure that we’ll do everything we can to get you to your ideal job. Send your CV to us to get started or search for the latest job vacancies and we’ll get the ball rolling.