Written by Martina Stella
For some of us it was already an available option, for others it sounded like a bridge too far. Some like it while others hate it: working from home. However, we can be sure that with the disruptions currently being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of remote workers has only increased.
Let’s first make order among the different terms used to describe this new way of working we all have somehow experienced.
Firstly, remote work vs telework — often used interchangeably – aren’t the same.
Remote work, also known as “work from anywhere,” is a flexible way of working which allows employees to work from anywhere remote regardless of the presence an office in close proximity. It usually increases flexibility around when and how you log on and complete your work.
Teleworking allows employees to carry out their duties and responsibilities from an offsite location other than the official workplace (working from home, another branch office, café, bookstore, or even a coworking space). Though often away from the office, a teleworker is different from a remote employee because in the case of telework occasionally some in-person office attendance is required — though this is not always the case.
And what about smart working then?
Smart working is a specialized branch of teleworking, using technology to bring employees and resources under a single umbrella and optimizing people’s workdays.
So, how can you reap the benefits of this off-site working?
1. Maintain constant communication
In a traditional office, you could walk to your manager’s (or supervisor’s) desk and ask for clarification on an assignment and you can go to colleagues for assistance and tackle issues during in-person meetings. Proximity informs productivity.
However, by virtue of its definition, remote work does not have proximity. That’s why having regular meetings with each other is so crucial. It is also important to keep online communication channels (such as MS Teams) open, to mutually check for other colleagues’ wellbeing and to support each other. In addition, even or especially with flexible working, it is advised to keep looking to your managers (or supervisors) for guidance.
2. Create your own routine
If you’re working in isolation, it can be easy to let things slide. Set yourself – realistic - targets throughout the day and write them down to keep track of your daily journey and productivity.
If you’re struggling to keep to a routine, also what you wear may have impact. For some, working remotely can mean that the temptation to stay in your pajamas is far too great. Even if you will work from home, adequate your clothes so that this can help keep the boundaries between working hours and off-work time.
To stay focused and energized, you need sometimes to step away from your work literally. So, remember to include breaks in your daily routine. It can be a work-out moment, a walk to clear your head or any activity that really allows you to have an enjoyable break from your desk. Anything that you can nicely embed in your routine!
3. Social media: boon and bane
Social media are a good source for information, and a useful way to stay connected while discovering new events and interesting people. However, social media, while being a great boon, can also become a real distraction. Make sure it doesn’t fall into the latter category. If you find the likes of Twitter and Instagram are becoming a hindrance, consider installing a web extension that blocks you from accessing certain sites for a set amount of time. Then, be very specific about what you want to achieve every time slot you divide your time into.
4. Strike work-life balance
Some jobs require giving more than the standard 40-hour workweek. Work from home policy can blur the lines between work and leisure time. As a result, you may not clock out until late at night. Then the burnout risk increases. To keep yourself going, day after day, it is important to install rewards. What do you really enjoy? How can you celebrate a day that went well? This strategy requires you to think about two things: when you will end your workday, and what you will do after your workday that gives you pleasure. Just like you would be going out for a social activity after work, find things that you can look forward to at the end of the day – this strategy helps you to avoid that work bleeds into the evening and weekends when you work from home and there are no physical boundaries anymore. Decide in advance for yourself how you want to celebrate: for instance, a nice home-cooked meal shared with your family, a walk to the ice cream parlor, or maybe a long soak in a hot bath?
And after all, remember: all changes can be turned into opportunities.
Thus, which is the wish you will turn into reality thanks to the possibility to remotely work?