The first month of working from home for most of us in Metro Manila is almost done. How are you holding up so far?
Unless you’re already used to the remote work life, prepare for a world of changes. But don’t fret since it is a challenge that is full of potential for growth and self-discovery.
This is our chance to really step up in our roles and find balance with work and life at home. It’s going to be worth all the lessons in this new setup.
Since most of us are still getting used to it, however, it pays to be reminded of the best practices and—etiquette—of working from home.
Work and productivity
First, set up your work-from-home station. Make it cozy and far from distractions as much as possible. Psyche yourself up to maximize productivity in this month-long quarantine, and commit to it.
1. Stick to a schedule
Rather, follow your company or team’s work schedule. Now that you have zero excuses to be late—other than actually waking up late—you’ll need to set an example and always log in on time.
This doesn’t mean to say you can’t take breaks: Continue to follow your team’s schedules for lunch break. Just make sure they are aware that you are stepping away from your workstation.
2. Form good habits
Maybe your work chair isn’t as comfortable as your office’s. Maybe it’s just harder for you to focus when you’re at home. Whatever the challenge is, find a way to overcome it by forming positive new habits.
One example is to take short breaks during sprints of working hours. Watch a 15-minute YouTube video or do a quick workout, and then get back to your task at hand and commit to getting it done. Just make sure you keep an eye on your team’s messaging app and be available when they need you.
3. Know when to stop
This setup is new for most of us. The coming days will feel the same, and working at home will either make you lazy and lethargic, or ultra-productive and busy you wouldn’t know when to stop—unless you notice the time, or someone pokes you in the shoulder, or you’re reminded to eat.
4. Do not multitask
It may be tempting to multitask and slack off because there’s no one there to tell you off. But of course, you already know that this will only get you more distracted and put your mind off the current task. This will then get you to work longer hours as you now struggle to finish the work before end of day.
Messages on team chat groups will tend to sound vague and dry, and sarcasm might be taken literally. But it doesn’t have to be that way when you start being more mindful of what you say and really be more open and honest with your conversations with the team.
1. Do a health status roll call
Yes, we should all focus on getting things done, but this is not an ordinary time to be doing just that. Keeping your communication lines open is vital and even lifesaving around this time.
When you find the right time, (ideally in the morning as we do at eCompareMo), ask your teammates how they’re doing. Is something bothering them? How are they coping so far? Are they feeling any COVID-19 symptoms?
Offer any help you can even if it’s just being there to be a listening ear to their anxieties or woes—during lunchbreak or when all the tasks of the day are done.
2. Keep an open line
Like we said, observe regular breaks, but let your team know. Update them by changing your “active” status to “away” in the team’s group messaging platform. You can also just inform them directly that you’ll go on a break.
Remember that you’re still on call for the entire workday so bring your phone with you to answer some important/urgent questions.
3. Practice boundary setting
This is life-changing not just at work, but in life too. When you find a client calling or talking to you unnecessarily about work after hours, draw the line by either not replying to them, or politely telling them you’re going to be available tomorrow instead—and don’t forget to ask for both of your schedules for a proper discussion. This goes for bosses and teammates too.
This will not only help calm your mind, but you’re also more productive when you know how to schedule each task based on importance and urgency.
4. Update your productivity board
Whether you’re using Asana, Trello, or your company’s own productivity tracker, don’t forget to update the tasks you’ve accomplished for the day. This will help keep your team in line, get rid of unnecessary chat/questions and you can all smoothly move from one task to another.
5. Be proactive
Is there anything more you need to do to make things better for you and your team? Everyone’s agitated right now, so maybe you can take time to help with your team’s workload by asking what else you can do to help lift the team’s morale.
A friendly reminder: Don’t get too comfortable. And since the work from home set up is quite new for most of us, it’s good to be reminded on how to observe these proper etiquettes when it comes to online meetings.
1. Look presentable
This will depend on how formal your company is. When in a video meeting, you still need to wear appropriate clothes and address your teammates the right way. Turn on the lights, use a lamp if need be, and get to working and looking as fresh as you usually are. You know…pre-COVID-19 days.
Also, if you think you might be sliding down the path of least resistance (read: laziness and lethargy), check out these home workout videos to get yourself out of that rut!
2. Focus and close unnecessary sites
Close your social media, don’t fiddle, and don’t look at your phone when in a meeting.
Closing unnecessary sites applies especially when sharing your screen. Avoid this cringe-y mistake. You would think this is common sense, but people tend to forget that sharing screens means literally seeing your current online activity as soon as you minimize your presentation window.
A little mindfulness will do. So delete shady bookmarks, close unrelated websites, and even clear your search history. You’re welcome.
3. Not talking? Put your mic on mute
How annoying would it be if you heard sounds of roosters or cars speeding past on your important call?
Be aware of your surroundings and the noise. Your workmates aren’t used to that so always be mindful of the background noise around you. Mute your audio unless it’s your turn to talk.
4. More importantly, have fun
Again, this depends on how formal your company is. When on a video call, your team can make it fun by using Zoom video conferencing service and change your backgrounds. And no, you don’t need a green screen for it. You can also suggest a Friday lunch party via video call. It’s really all up to you!