Have you bought the laptop stand, the mouse, the headphones for video conferencing, set up your workspace in the nicest corner of your house, and begun your whole new adventure – working from home? If you haven’t, you’re days away from it. As somebody who has spent half my work life at a desk in my bedroom (the other half in an office), here’s what you need to know about, and prepare for, how to work from home.
You will not work more than four hours a day
I’m being kind, actually. It’s more like three hours. That’s as much time as you are productive in an office anyway. According to a UK study by Vouchercloud, the average worker is productive for a little less than three hours a day. But at home, you won’t be able to hide behind meetings, smoke breaks, tea breaks, and just sitting at your desk. So, lower expectations. Know that your family and your staff (if you haven’t already given them paid leave) will not think you are working when you are home, and the interruptions will be many.
What will you be doing the rest of the time?
Screaming at your kids. Or your parents. Or the pet. Or the maid or cook, if they are still there. You cannot stop interruptions from the family unless you close the door and are on a call. Meals will take longer than you thought.
Separate your work and relaxation spaces
Don’t work from your bed. Have a work table set up. Get yourself a desk and an ergonomic chair. It’s important to have a divide between where you relax, sleep, and work so that where you enjoy yourself remains untainted and you might feel like you are always at work.
Deadlines are your best friend
I’ve never done any serious work unless the deadline is very near (read: Just past), and with the exception of the editor of Lifestyle Asia and one or two others, that’s the way most people I know work. The real work gets done only when there’s external pressure. And managers, before dishing out the deadlines, know that they have to be real. Anything that can be pushed or is inessential will be ignored. If you don’t have one, and the lack of something to work towards freaks you out, this is the time to give yourself one.
You will wear pyjamas
Don’t try and fight it. Forget any expert tells who you to get up early and get dressed as though you were going to work. There is no point. You’ll just have to do a lot of laundry. Video calls are the only exception, and if you are getting dressed for one, throw in a trip to the grocery store or any trip that is required outside so this is not wasted.
Meetings, video calls, and con calls
These might seem like a good idea, but it will be brought home to everybody that they are, for the most part, a bit of a waste of time when everybody is at different internet speeds and on different screens. Emails are best for clarity about your deliverables and projects. Also, always summarise action points after calls in case people couldn’t hear them.
Note: For video calls, ensure the background is uncluttered and your bed isn’t in the picture. Also, never answer calls in the loo – it’s an email or chats only zone. Voices echo in the loo, people will realise where you are.
Food will be of inordinate interest
You will either lose weight because it’s all home-cooked food and really not that great, or you will put on more if you have stockpiled anything unhealthy. Remember, if there’s food at home, good snacky stuff, you will eat it.
When will you wake up?
When the phone rings and it’s your colleague from work. Give it a few rings before you answer, speaking the sleep out of your voice before you say hello.
Jokes aside, you will discover the time of day at which you are actually productive. A friend loves early starts and is enormously productive before noon. She lags between 12:00 noon and 4:00 pm, and so answers mails, schedules calls, and other routine stuff at that time. You could also substitute that with playing with the dog/cat or baking. Don’t be bound by office times, but also don’t start days so late you are working into the night.
Here’s to working in your pyjamas and actually getting more work done.
All images: Courtesy Shutterstock