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Work-from-Home: What does newly transformed Indian workforce need to know?

With the world under the shadow of the Corona Virus pandemic, millions of businesses are now pushed to manage a remote workforce. From the UK to the US, Japan to India, multiple global companies, in the past few weeks, have already rolled out mandatory work-from-home policies during the lockdown.

Needless to say, companies who never granted even a single work from home day to their employees had to be content with the prospect of managing their entire workforce remotely. Now, some employees will be working from home for the first time which means figuring out how to adapt to a new environment that may not lead to productivity. However, there are always ways to deliver results without going crazy.

Whether you are working hard or hardly working, here are a few things the newly transformed Indian workforce needs to know.

Set Off the Communication

Even in this pandemic, the key to working from home is clear communication with your boss. Know what exactly is expected of you – do you need to be glued to our screen 9 – 6 or there is some flexibility? Ask your manager to have a ten-minute call with the entire team to kick-off as well as wrap up the day. Teams, who have been working remotely for the first time, usually haven’t thought of it. Spending your working hours in close proximity of the boss leads to easy and effortless communication. The same might not be the case with remote working.

Treat It Like A Regular Day at Work

Lounging in your pajamas throughout the day.

Taking extra naps in the morning.

Treating yourself with tea, coffee and snacks break.

Work from home scenario comes with multiple rewards and benefits. However, it doesn’t mean that it should cause a temporary decrease in productivity, the chances of which are higher for first time remote workers. Did we say anything wrong?

Convert a room or corner of your home to a well-equipped home office space. Still, if you do not get office vibes; take a shower, get dressed, do your breakfast, grab your favorite coffee mug and be seated in your office space – a trick that works for many lazy remote workers.

Nevertheless, rather than lying in a bed with a packet of chips, try something deliberate.

Draw A Line Between Work And Family Life

I have laundry to do. I will make it real quick. I just need half an hour.

I should watch TV with kids for some time. It is still an hour left for the conference call.

Working from home implies more family time and togetherness. It is natural and should come as a reward for working remotely. However, it is important that those who live with you understand the clear boundaries when you are at work. Let everyone, including your children, know that just because you are at home doesn’t mean you are available for social activities at any hour of the day. Fix slots for lunch dates, phone calls with friends, playtime with kids, checking into social media accounts – all that can significantly impact your productivity.

Too tough to resist so many distractions? Check out the next points.

Ward Off Isolation

An enforced and abrupt transition from office to home-office environment could leave some employees struggling to adapt to the change. You are not alone. Focus on the positives of remote working.

You don’t need to spend hours traveling to your workplace which is directly proportional to reduced stress from commuting.

There are fewer interruptions from colleagues as well as the boss.

You can spend more time with your family.

The silver lining is – A survey by Flexjobs in 2019 showed that 65% of respondents experienced more productivity in a home office.

Prolonged isolation can potentially affect morale and productivity. To avoid this, try to go unconventional ways to bond with the team, like virtual pizza party, celebrate birthdays through video calls, make time for casual conversations with colleagues. Managers should praise for projects completed and goals reached. It will add lightness in this difficult environment.

Working With Kids

You are discussing something with your boss over the phone and your 5-years-old starts yelling.

You are attending a video conference and you have to blurt out, “Sorry, my daughter is screaming!”

Working home with kids is not a piece of cake. With schools being closed, it is challenging to keep children engaged at home. It is advisable that you closely communicate with your manager – who will be considerate at this moment. Besides, establish a routine for your kids for sleeping, waking up, meals, learning, playtime and other activities. It will minimize their stress and outbursts for attention as well as help you figure out the best times to plan out meetings, conference calls, and heads-down work.

Keep Spirits Bright

These are stressful times. Negative headlines, worrying about sick or elderly, rising numbers of deceased, panic buying – all these can lead to depression. Prevent them through positive talks and watching positive news. Make as much face-to-face interaction online as possible. Regular check-ins by managers, regular meetings without any agenda, virtual coffee dates can ward off isolation and depression. Managers should focus on keeping up the morale of the team. Become a cheerleader for the team.

For many remote workers, the spare bedroom has turned into the executive office, the kitchen table is playing the new role of the board room table. Embrace the new set up and consider it as an escape from the daily grind. Always remember, “This too shall pass.”

AN APR 17/20

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