Many of us have been forced to work from home because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Earlier, employees sought ‘working from home’ as a solution to work-life balance. Now, our homes have become our offices, our schools, our shopping malls, our take-out counters and more. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in April 2020: “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” The good news is that working from home bids goodbye to the onerous commute! The bad news is that boundaries between ‘work’ and ‘life’ have blurred as never before. In this ‘new normal’, employees and employers are navigating unknown terrain in establishing work from home rules. Here are some of our do’s and don’ts when home is your office and your family are your co-workers!
Do … create a dedicated workspace, which will at the minimum require a table, chair, office supplies, and internet connectivity.
Do … make sure that your table is big enough to accommodate your computer, phone, notepads and pens, chargers, tech portals (if any) provided by your employer, and also your water bottle and coffee mug.
Do … place your computer so that family members, roommates and pets sharing your home do not become visible on video calls.
Do … set up a calendar with others in your home to get a quiet closed off space when phone calls or video calls are scheduled.
Do … create a ‘quiet bubble’ to allow you to participate in work phone calls and video calls without interference, and also to allow you to concentrate on the job at hand without interruptions. You may need to invest in noise canceling headphones.
Do … plan for childcare / eldercare in advance if you are responsible for the care of children or older people.
Do … take regular breaks from sitting at your desk and looking at computer screens. Go for a walk around the house or outside, get yourself a coffee, do some jumping jacks to get blood circulating!
Do … set up regular times with your manager and the HR folks in your company. Being proactive about career planning is critical when you are remote. Out-of-sight can often mean out-of-mind.
Don’t ... vary your work hours wildly from day to day. Create a daily schedule that mimics your schedule from life before the pandemic and stick to it.
Don’t ... take shortcuts around your employer’s security protocols for technology, confidentiality requirements and your employment contract obligations. These apply to work from home too.
Don’t ... forget to inform your employer if your remote work location is in a different State and/or County from those on file with your employer. Taxes can vary with changes in your location.
Don’t ... stop communicating with colleagues informally. Working from home can be isolating and mentally draining. Set up cocktail hours, time for a friendly catch-up during the day, and virtual activities together.
Don’t ... give up on your exercise routines. You can access fitness classes online at your convenience and at reasonable prices. You might even be able to work with your previous instructors!
Don’t ... stay in your pajamas all day. Working from home is not an excuse to become a slob!