WFH in the COVID-19 Era: How to Maintain Productivity and Work-Life Balance

WFH in the COVID-19 Era: How to Maintain Productivity and Work-Life Balance

Working from home is the new normal setup for many companies around the world — at least for now. 

After the coronavirus has officially reached the ‘pandemic’ state, more and more companies, from giant businesses to startups, have rolled out mandatory WFH policies in response to the health and safety measures proclaimed by the government and its underlying health organizations. 

With flexible hours and the opportunity to stay with the family in this trying time, remote working might seem like an enviable setup to anyone stuck in a cubicle, fulfilling the 9-to-5 workday. But, it’s not like everyone can easily adapt to this sudden change, especially when it’s their first time shifting to the ‘home office’ environment. 

For many parents, this means fulfilling a double duty of doing work stuff while looking out for kids — not to mention keeping the household safe and sane at all costs. Others may also experience a hard time figuring out how to keep a productive spirit when slacking off is the only best thing to do at home. Well, things can really tangle up without well-organized routines and of course, clear boundaries between work and other life roles at home.  

It’s been seven weeks and counting since our company shifted to a work-from-home setup and it seems like I’m starting to get the hang of working at my kitchen table for five days in a row. 

Here’s how I managed to stay productive and set my head whether in home, play, or work mode.  

 Dedicating a Workspace at Home 

Your environment can greatly affect your working style, which is why most managers and HR support teams encourage their employees to dedicate an ad hoc, bespoke space exclusively for work and separate from other communal spaces in the house. Since we all work differently, I have a few suggestions when it comes to creating an ideal home office for employees with different working attitude: 

        *   For those who find productivity in peaceful places, transform your unused space (a guest room, in the basement, or even a walk-in closet) into an isolated home office where all your tech neck and ergonomic needs are within reach. You can also hang a “Someone Is Working Inside. Do Not Disturb” sign at the door to let everyone in the house know that you need silence in the work set. 

      *   For those who feel uncomfortable in isolated areas, move around the house so you can find different spots with views or sounds that will inspire you to get the work done. 

Either way, creating a specific workspace in and around the house can help employees mentally separate the work-life from home.   
As you work remotely, try to keep a safe and sanitized home to maintain a healthy working environment. 

Treating Workday Like a Real Job Schedule

It does not necessarily mean you have to dress up to make it as though you are in a real office setting. Otherwise, if dressing up is something that floats your boat, then get that coat and bow tie spinning to start the day right! Even if it’s a bit weird, try to enact your normal workday routine to reduce that ‘homey’ feeling. 

Changing Commute Time into an Intentional Rest Time 

Calculate the amount of time you normally spend to commute and convert it to your daily rest allowance. This way allows you to detach yourself from work and rest for a bit. Invest your rest time into rituals that can help you clear your mind and relieve stress from work. You can also use mini-breaks to make food, watch the news, do some yoga, or play with your kids. It also serves a great time to catch up with your colleagues and talk about work and personal stuff.     

Setting Schedules for Distractions 

What are the things that distract you the most while working from home? Whether it’s social media or your playful kids, the best way to manage distractions is to set schedules for them. But, it takes a lot of discipline so make sure to prioritize your own schedule. 

You can download a social media blocking tool to help yourself avoid notifications while you are in the work mode. If you are easily distracted by kids, try splitting work and babysitting schedules with your partner. You can also set up virtual babysitters in case no one is available to look out for them. Virtual babysitters can talk, read, play, or do dances with your child online. 

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