Is working from home the new norm?
How to adjust to working from home whilst in the middle of this pandemic & is this the future of the way we do business?
Firstly, I would like to thank all of the Humdex team, our families, friends and colleagues, plus our newsletter and article readers for their ongoing support at this difficult time. We are all impacted by the current Coronavirus pandemic wherever we are. An impact that also has the potential to change the way we work forever.
A catalyst for change
The Financial Times writes:
“A sustained period of home working could raise questions both about the adaptability of managers and the practicality of encouraging more remote work.”
We know that this pandemic is different from previous experiences like the virus SARS. It is far more wide reaching but also the “the tech is better than it was in the last pandemic. People are more used to it,” says Gartner’s Mr Kropp. It is said those businesses that have the capacity to leverage a workforce and can operate remotely will see some benefit in maintaining the essence of these work practices. The virus has catalysed so much social change out of necessity, from concepts that were not considerations previously. We are seeing now that it is the easiest it have ever been to effectively coordinate, communicate and operate from a home base by using modern, accessible and inexpensive technology, companies will not want to turn all the way back.
“Once effective work-from-home policies are established, they are likely to stick,”
Karen Harris, Managing Director of consultancy Bain’s Macro Trends Group
I would encourage you to read the remainder of our referenced article by the Financial Times, as it introduces some interesting thoughts on the impact of ex-pats returning, corporate health policies and their evolution post Covid-19. We would also like to recommend another read; a piece by Mary Sigmund at YPO and her interview with the CEO of Acceleration Partners, who have been reaping the benefits of remote work for over a decade. There are some stand out action points to be taken from this piece.
What do we know about working from home?
Humdex is a small team of capable individuals who are located in several locations across Europe. As such we have built up a solid foundation of experience when it comes to working remotely and, on an individual level, I have personally worked from home for long periods at a time. Below I have written some personal learning points that I have picked up over the years which you may find useful.
My personal tips for working from home:
1. Try and take regular breaks- Where possible take a break every 30 minutes, get up, take your eyes off the screen and walk into a different room. It is very easy when working from home to burn out, we are not presented with the sporadic social distractions we have when working in a public space. This also goes doubly so for taking a lunch break and making something sufficient for a meal. That break during the middle of the day is a great opportunity to compile the day so far and re-centre for the remaining half.
2. If possible work and play in different rooms- Try not to work in the same room that you normally relax in. Having a clear segregation between where you work and where you spend your free time will help you stay in work mode during hours and relax better when “off duty”. 3. Set daily goals- When you are your own master and motivator it can be incredibly useful to write down your major aims of the workday first thing in the morning. Work to these aims, tick them off as you achieve them, this way you stay to task and get an important success moment when you tick off each goal. 4. Use a monitor- Most of us will be working from home using our laptops. I cannot emphasize enough how much of a game changer I find using a monitor when working from home. For me, it not only prevents a bad back, as I am not hunched over a small laptop screen which is at the wrong height, but I find it reduces my chance of getting headaches while working. For me, a brighter back-lit screen and larger display means I relax my eyes more and squint less.
5. Don’t work in your PJ’s- A major error a lot of us can make when working from home. Whilst wearing comfy/bed clothes when working from home on rare occasions can be quite liberating, I find it has a poor psychological effect on me if I do this for extended periods. The process of getting changed and ready into clothes you would work in sets your mind to the day (things do not have to be seriously smart here). In your work clothes you are subconsciously aware that whilst in them you are there to do something productive, whilst the danger of wearing your inside casuals is that physical disconnect between you and your work. 6. Use video and phone calls to stay social and stay connected- I find using video conferencing tools such as Google Hangouts, Zoom or Skype are an essential part of the remote working tool kit. Without hearing a human voice for so long, a lot of us (including me) can get stir crazy. In addition, as time goes on, we will feel more and more disconnected with a team or task. Talking with others will naturally help you tether yourself to the task at hand and know where you are in relation to the wider work/business. Moreover, some concepts and conversations are almost 100% better delivered in “person”, rather than sent over in email after email, which can often lose meaning in translation.
Stay safe & keep healthy
We are in a huge period of flux and change. I think the landscape in which we work is set to change forever. The adaptability of management and the ability to utilise available technologies to maintain productivity during this unprecedented period will be our biggest test yet.
Like all of you we are concentrating on our own health and that of our families, our friends, our work colleagues as well as those in the broader society. We will continue to produce content, that we hope may be useful and interesting to you at this time as long, as we are able.
Our thoughts are with all of you. We wish you well and healthy. The Humdex team
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Author -Scott Brent
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