In the spring of 2020, the attitude to the remote work format was like something outlandish and even funny that “you just have to endure it”. Since then, the situation has changed: we realized that the coronavirus is for a long time. From January 1, teleworking was legalized. Even earlier, many companies decided to switch to a remote mode of work forever: according to a study by PwC and NAFI, a third of Russian companies plan to maintain a remote mode for at least another year or two, and many - permanently, in whole or in part. At the same time, the number of working hours when working from home has increased.
Olga Kitaina, practicing psychologist, founder and CEO of the Alter psychologist recruiting service, head of a remote office
The transition to an unaccustomed work format was stressful for most, and adapting to it can really take many months. Reflecting on the experience of the past year, I brought it into a kind of checklist on how to help yourself stay productive and prevent burnout (many, unfortunately, managed to make sure that it is more than possible at a distance), if working from home is already not a temporary phenomenon that needs to be "endured", but a part of life.
These recommendations are based not only on my practice as a psychologist, but also on the experience of managing a distributed team: since its inception in 2017, all employees of the Alter service have been working remotely from different cities and countries.
So, what can you do to make the remote stay comfortable for you on an ongoing basis?
Step 1: take care of basic needs
When working from home, direct communication is often lacking, and problems with self-organization can also arise. Many people lack personal space, it is difficult to maintain a balance between work and play. Some executives may feel that processes are spiraling out of control - as a result, they become nervous and demand more from employees than before.
Against this background, it's easy to forget about basic self-care. Back to work in the new year, inspect your basic needs.
Sleep and food: Skip unnecessary activities in favor of extra hours of sleep. Sleep and eat enough, do not overeat. Place a glass and a carafe of water on your worktable to keep them reminded of themselves. Stock up on healthy snacks so you can satisfy your hunger even during an emergency.
Exercise: Exercise regularly increases energy levels (and therefore efficiency), helps manage anxiety and stress, and improves mood. In addition to training (in the gym or at home), sedentary work requires short walks and warm-ups during the day. In order not to forget about them, set reminders on your phone.
Communication: keep in touch with colleagues - in work chats, via video, by phone. If you haven't already started a chat or group for informal communication, do it today - this will replace your morning coffee and exchange of news. Communication may seem like a distraction from work, but it actually increases productivity in the long run .
When basic needs are met, structure your time and space:
- Observe the regime. Go to bed and get up at your usual time. Take the same breaks and meals as you would at the office. Use the time you spent on the road to do something enjoyable for yourself.
- Organize a clear start and end to your work day. This is necessary to strike a balance between work and play.
- Designate different areas for work and "personal life" inside the apartment. Create an appropriate atmosphere in the work area; try to make the space ergonomic, but do not forget to surround yourself with pleasant things: photographs, souvenirs, beautiful stationery. When working from home, you don't need to wear a business suit - but don't stay in your pajamas. Allow yourself to wear the usual comfortable and pleasant clothes.
Step 2: implement a time management system
Set boundaries for productivity and rest. For example, agree with yourself not to touch your phone for 15 minutes. See how you are doing. Then gradually increase the gaps. This helps to maintain focus .
Use techniques that increase concentration. For example, Pomodoro : this program divides the work into segments ("tomatoes") of 30 minutes, of which 25 minutes is continuous work, 5 minutes is a break, every four "pomodoro" is a long break of 15-30 minutes.
Practice meditation for at least a few minutes, but regularly. This will help develop awareness.
Test different time management systems and choose the one that works best for you.
Step 3: line up boundaries
Not everyone manages to retire in an apartment and work quietly. All family members could be transferred to a remote location. What to do if homework distracts from work?
It will help to accept the fact that if you have a partner, children, pets - most likely, the work will never be "peaceful and quiet." And this is the “new norm”.
Hold boundaries with other adult family members. Be clear about how, where and when you will work. Agree when to distract each other, when not (for example, during an important call or closing a deadline).
Children also need healthy boundaries. Tell them clearly when you can and should not be disturbed; when you spend time with them. You can think of an interactive way to do this: for example, display a toy near the door you are working behind. Make a schedule: Agree that you will spend, say, 20 minutes together every two hours.
Help the children plan their activities. Work together to plan what they will do and when. If the day is structured, children are less likely to distract you and demand immediate attention.
Share child care with other family members. Partnerships and support are especially important right now.
How to behave if you are a boss and you need to manage a remote office?
You are a leader, so you have a greater burden of supporting employees. When working remotely, your team needs you especially.
Remember that consistent, clear and transparent communication is important. Explain the situation to employees, openly tell your position, justify the measures taken. In a situation of uncertainty (and this, despite the success in the fight against the pandemic, still persists), general anxiety increases - any innuendo instantly generates speculation. It is important for employees to see that management has a plan of action and is consistently implementing it.
Be attentive to the emotional state of employees, watch for signs of burnout . Say you are open to communication, empathy and support.
Pay more attention to employee motivation. Be aware that it can be difficult for them to balance work and home.
Pay attention to planning and synchronizing workflows. Make sure that employees have remote access to the necessary documents and resources so that they can freely communicate with each other. This will help reduce anxiety and protect the team from unnecessary anxiety.
Come up with some kind of social activity and meetings - online or offline. For most people, it is important not to feel completely isolated, but to feel supported by others.
Remember to support yourself. It might be worth creating a chat or calling other executives you know to share experiences, make recommendations, and support each other if difficulties arise.
Remember, you are not alone. Over the past year, we all went through the changes in an accelerated mode, many of which, in an amicable way, take years; these changes occurred spontaneously, in large numbers and affected all spheres of life. Our psyche is still adapting to the new reality. Many people go through the same difficulties. It is important to show concern, understanding and support both towards others and towards your own.
And if you feel like you can't handle it yourself, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Timely support from a psychologist will help to overcome the crisis with minimal losses and quickly adapt to the situation.
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