For most people, going to work has always meant, waking up, dressing up, driving through traffic or catching that early bus to go to the office, says Bongani Chinkanda, CEO of HDI Youth Consultancy. This has become the typical everyday routine for people in South Africa and gives the discipline that is required to be productive and taken seriously within the community.
With the outbreak of COVID-19 and implementation of social distancing as one of the measures to prevent the spread of the virus; most companies have now asked their employees to work from home. This is possibly the “new normal” for workspaces and does take people out of their comfort zone.
“Working from home was always my normal. In 2008, I had to build a home office in order to run my first start up business. Some lessons were learnt, and a few challenges overcome, though it instilled a lot of self-discipline.” Bongani Chinkanda
The pros of working from home are: Supreme flexibility, no traffic and extreme comfort. The cons? It takes practice and requires a significant amount of self-awareness, discipline and laser-like focus.
Here are some lessons to consider when working from home:
Respect yourself, your work and your customers. It all starts with the state of mindset.
- MAINTAIN YOUR ROUTINE.
It is important to maintain your routine as if you were going to the office. If you exercise at 5am, continue to do so. Do not kill your momentum, keep going as normal.
- SETUP A WORKSTATION
It is of key importance to setup a workstation in your home. It will take some trial and error to find a workspace layout that supports your needs, but the key is to have it resemble your office setup as much as possible. You don’t even need a private room; it can be a designated area in your home — far away from the bed and couch. If you have a home office already, great, if not – set up a specific work/productivity space. Avoid working in front of the TV or in bed.
Stay connected to your colleagues and clients. This helps to maintain the culture, be it remotely. Successful people who work from home always make it a point to overcommunicate.
- WATCH YOUR DIET
Watch your diet. It’s not #dezemba – you still have summer body goals. So, use the time at home to also cook healthier food – avoid takeaways. Do not over-indulge, focus on the work at hand.
- TEACH YOUR KIDS
Speak to your kids and ask them to respect your work routine. Your kids need to know your start and end times. Create a schedule that the family can adhere too; your kids will eventually adapt. When it comes to work life, it’s also ok to be transparent to your co-workers about the fact that you’re also juggling the needs of your kids, so they are not caught by surprise.
- STAY ON THE PULSE
Remember your obligations to your employer or clients. You are not on holiday. Delivery and excellence are still expected.
- DRESS UP AND SHOW UP
Dress up for those video calls. Don’t come on with your ‘home’ clothes. Dress up and show up. The most productive people don’t wake up and instantly start working while still in their pyjamas. Instead, they get ready for the day the same way they would if they were heading into the office — which, yes, involves dressing up in presentable clothes.
- PUT A STRUCTURE IN PLACE
It’s easy to get distracted by personal matters when you’re working from home, because you’re so much more accessible now. That’s why you need structure — a consistent schedule that you’re strict about — to prevent distractions from disturbing your workflow. The easiest way to do this is to create a to-do list for each day. It should include very specific, measurable and achievable tasks.
- DO NOT TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GRANTED
The option to work from home is a great privilege, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Do not take the opportunity for granted. Use the spare time to also work on yourself and develop yourself. Maybe get a new skill from YouTube or learn something new; read a book. Since you’re not stuck in traffic anymore, invest in your time.
This could be the new normal, so make sure you are prepared emotionally, mentally and physically.