The future of the office was already uncertain before COVID-19. With many employees forced to work from home during the pandemic, the switch back to the office is sure to be gradual, and many may opt to look for long-term remote opportunities.
Some companies, such as IBM, had been veering away from remote work in recent years, citing declining productivity. So, how can you stay productive at home as one of over 50% of Canadian workers getting busy outside the office for at least half the week?
If you have a demanding job or one that you genuinely love, it can be difficult to turn it off — especially if you live and work in the same space. That's why it's crucial to create a dedicated spot where you do your work. If quarters are tight or you tend to migrate during working hours, create "space" by closing your laptop and storing it away when it's time to rest and recharge.
If you have kids, block off the times when you have to pick them up for school or manage their homeschooling. This may make you feel crunched for time, but you will probably get more work done once the kids are settled into their lessons for the day.
It may seem impossible to fit in exercise and take the time to make nutritious meals. Look for life hacks that make this easier, such as ordering premade meals or cooking in batches and freezing the excess for fast, healthy food options. Sitting for long stretches takes a toll on the body. Take advantage of exercises you can do at your desk, take a walk or schedule gym time into your calendar.
Creating connections with colleagues involves availing yourself of the right technology to stay in touch and collaborate on complex projects. It's important to have the right technology resources to remain productive and communicate with coworkers.
- At the top of the list, invest in good Wi-Fi. Remember that you are competing with many other people working at home due to the impact of COVID-19. Therefore, line up the best Wi-Fi you can afford.
- If you have to remote into your work computer, you'll need a VPN for security and privacy (if your company doesn't provide one).
- Too many people don't recognize the importance of a high-quality camera and headset. When you enter a Zoom meeting, have a plain, professional background and a camera and headset that help you communicate effectively.
Communication and prioritization may be more difficult outside the office. Rather than sending important messages over messaging services or via email, consider requesting face-to-face meetings. It's a lot harder to multitask when you have to look someone in the eye — even on a video chat. This is especially true if you need the boss's undivided attention.
Take advantage of secure scheduling and meeting tools such as Zoom, WhatsApp and Slack. You can also look into free project management tools to separate your home and work duties. Trello, Todoist and several others have decent free versions with plenty of opportunities to pay for enhanced functionality.
Maintaining high availability shows your coworkers and supervisors that you are online, working and doing your job. Keep your smartphone, tablet or other technology close by during working hours to manage perceptions and reduce friction. Just remember to turn off work-related apps and devices to protect your personal and family time.