Before the Covid-19 pandemic, working from home was often seen as something reserved for those in flexible roles, with highly supportive employers or situational circumstances that required it. Now, however, it is an enforced reality for many of us. Research varies on how many Swiss employees were working from home regularly before Coronavirus, with anywhere from 20% to 70% of the office-based workforce purporting to work remotely at least some of the time, but we know that flexible work conditions were in-demand even before the pandemic. In fact, a 2019 study found that 83% of people would choose a job that offered flexible working over a role that didn’t. But once faced with the reality of doing one’s job from the comfort of the living room or home office, how can we ensure that work is productive and tasks are completed to a high standard, without compromising work-life balance?
If you are in the position where you can work from home, you may be wondering how you can ensure you’re not only working effectively, but also sustaining a positive work-life balance. Here’s how you can do both:
Use the right tools
A 2018 Deloitte study
revealed that just under half of employees are provided a laptop that would enable them to work remotely, with 53% using chat functions or instant messaging and only 36% proficient in video conferencing. This highlights how unprepared many workplaces may have been in the lead-up to the March lockdown enforcement. However, many people working from home have found adapting to new technologies and tools easier than anticipated, with an abundance of free and low-cost services available to make remote working easier.
If you’re setting up your home office, here’s what you should consider implementing:
- Whatever device/s suit your role best. This can range from a simple laptop with strong internet connection to a full PC setup complete with multiple screens, a dedicated mobile phone and headset. In general, the faster and more powerful your technology, the faster you will be able to work and less frustrated you will be
- Speedy, reliable, strong internet. For many, this is essential, particularly when it comes to video conferencing. If your wireless is unreliable, consider using your mobile data for important calls or conferences
- Communication tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, or whatever is industry- or company-preferred. Many conversations are taking place via video call, so a webcam (built into your device or purchased separately) can be advantageous
- Cloud-based storage solutions. In the absence of dedicated office-based hard drives and systems, many organisations are turning to the cloud to store and share files and information quickly and effectively. Make sure the cloud system you use is compliant with your organisation’s security policies
The abundance of online communication tools means workplace communication should be easy, but for many of us, the absence of in-person conversations and team meetings can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnect. In fact, a 2019 study found that loneliness was the second-most reported challenge by remote workers – and loneliness has been found to make us feel less motivated and productive than usual.
Counteract this by setting clear intentions and expectations with your team, manager, colleagues and clients around communication. This might involve scheduling regular video calls to provide updates and brainstorm, establishing more informal chat times with co-workers or asking for a regular check-in with your manager at the start of the day.
While you’re communicating more, make a note to mute outside distractions as much as possible to avoid dips in productivity. Turn off social media notifications, avoid looking at non-work-related tasks outside of your dedicated breaks and hold off on chores and home tasks until you have a break in between work. Productivity is possible when working from home – 65% of workers
say they’re more productive when working remotely, thanks to fewer interruptions and no commuter stress – but it takes a conscious effort to strike this balance right.
Separate work from home
When work is your home and home is your work, creating distance between the two settings – physically and mentally – can be incredibly difficult. Where possible, create a dedicated zone that you use only for work, which you disassemble (or cover up) at the end of each workday. This can be as simple as putting your laptop away or putting a cover over your screens each afternoon. Prepare for your day as if you were going to the office, creating a daily routine that includes getting up and showering, dressing for your work day and moving to your dedicated work zone. It’s easy to let work and home seep into one during this setting, but these measures can help to avoid that and ensure that when you’re working, you’re working well.
A clear structure and routine have been proven to help in times of uncertainty, particularly when it comes to mental wellbeing. This can look different to different people – for some it might be planning the week’s work schedule in advance and ticking off tasks each day, while for others it might involve starting every day with yoga, breaking for a snack at set times and having a regular social call with a friend. Find what works for you and your workload and stick with it.
Stay up to date with Swisslinx
Swisslinx continues to be business as usual (and we will be slowly repopulating the office in the coming weeks) with all teams available to assist clients and candidates. Stay tuned to our insights
hub for more on how work is changing, or contact us
to start a conversation on how we can work together.