Coping with Remote Work: Why it’s a Process
COVID-19 now has most of us working from home and spending a large part of our days at home with families or flatmates instead of around colleagues in an office.
I have worked from home solidly for over two years and I can tell you that many of us face similar challenges during the initial adjustment period. Now that most of you have experienced several weeks in your new work environment, I thought it was timely to share some of the biggest hurdles I faced a few years ago when adjusting to the home office, along with advice on how you can overcome them for yourself.
Adapting to a New Environment
When I first started working from home, I was fixated on creating a completely silent home office, ensuring that there was nothing in the house that would disrupt my productivity. I was paranoid that my family kept quiet, that they didn’t speak in the hallway, I insisted they walked silently, I banned TV noise and even instructed that they didn’t flush the loo while I was on the phone!
It took a few weeks for me to realise that it’s okay to have background noise and interruptions when working remotely. After all, we’re surrounded by interruptions, distractions and noisy colleagues in the office! Take your time to adjust and go easy on those around you at home – with everything happening in the world today, remember that they’re adjusting too. Embrace the idea of a lawnmower outside, don’t worry about your kids popping into your office, and get away from your desk now and then to tell them how great they are doing.
Instead of attempting to banish all noise, consider creating a set of rules or signals so you can let your family know if you’re in the middle of something. In my household, my older kids know to knock quietly on the door if they need to talk to me during work hours. If I don’t answer, it means I’m in the middle of a call with a client or interviewing a candidate, and they will come back later or send me a message on the iPad. We’ve also used signals, such as a thumbs up or wave to say, “come in,” or holding up my fingers to show the number of minutes until I’ll be free. And remember, everyone is in a similar situation right now, so if you’re on a call or in a meeting, they’ll understand if there are interruptions. It’s completely OK to say “give me a minute, my toddler just walked in” if you need to!
Setting Realistic Expectations
At the beginning of my work-from-home journey, I wanted to prove that the arrangement wouldn’t affect my output and efficiency. Looking back, it’s clear that these self-imposed standards were too much, and I was putting unrealistic pressure on myself to be better than when I was working in the office. It was my amazing manager, Clare, who finally encouraged me to relax a little and ensure I was taking proper breaks. I am lucky to have an organisational culture that supports a healthy work/life balance, which is key to a successful work-from-home situation.
When you’re at home, you have no colleagues to have tea with or a quick chat about your plans for the weekend, so it’s easy to get stuck behind your desk for extended periods. Taking regular breaks keeps you fresh; throw on some washing, spend a few minutes playing with your kids or go outside and get some fresh air.
A Culture that Supports Remote Working
It’s so important that the organisation encourages a flexible workforce by enabling flexibility around hours and deadlines, and accommodating personal and family circumstances.
For the Peoplebank team, the transition to remote work has been seamless, and we’re even seeing benefits from the change. While there has always been plenty of interaction between colleagues and managers, since the advent of COVID-19, I have found that I’m way more engaged with the team and know them better than ever.
Adapting to working from home is a process and doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s OK to try a few different approaches before you find your rhythm. And remember, while it’s great to have goals for yourself, it is even more important to be kind to yourself.
If you would like more advice on adjusting to working from home or need support with navigating the IT recruitment process, I’m here to help, so give me a call.