Despite having worked from home for long this current house arrest has me on my toes too! No morning alarm, no newspaper at the doorstep, no urgency to push people out of the house to start working! No need to check on the maid if she is going to show up either. Weekdays and weekends now blend in together, with nothing but a priority for house chores over office work to tell them apart.
In my experience, most people believed working from home is not a serious job. A lot of people I met said they are very glad that there are work from home opportunities for new mothers in India, but very few people were interested in knowing what I do, who I work for, and treat my work as a real job. Now suddenly what I have been doing for long is the new normal.
You are probably in the Week four or Week five of your work from the home regime? I have been doing it for over three years now. Time works differently when you work from home and despite having done it for longer than most people, I find it difficult to deal with this existential crisis that the planet is going through and balance it with my work. I am spending more time tracking news then I ought to and trying to be a parent, teacher, agony aunt and employee all at once. And a lot of people who work from home work through sickness, vaccinations, guests and parties at the background and sometimes with the partners travelling for work for days together.
Time works differently when you work from home and despite having done it for longer than most people, I find it difficult to deal with this existential crisis that the planet is going through and balance it with my work.
Here are some important things I learnt about WHF. I had learnt that working in pyjamas doesn’t mean I take my work less seriously. Early on it was clear that just because you are at home you cannot work and have a pedicure at the same time or decide to catch up on a few episodes of whatever you are binge-watching during work hours.
If you think you can make a sandwich anytime you feel hungry and make it a routine, your body is soon going to raise an alarm bell. Work means business, you get paid for it, you are answerable for every task and you better stick to a schedule. Of course, there are cheat days.
One thing is for sure when you are working from home it is extremely difficult to compartmentalize, you cannot leave your office behind and walk out. The most important thing to do while working from home or working remotely is to assert boundaries. Step away from your computer when it’s time. Make it clear that since your workstation and living room couch use the same IP address it doesn’t mean you are working 24 X 7. Don’t feel bad to turn off the Slack notifications when you are on your time off.
A workday at the office has activities which destress you such as the tea/coffee breaks with co-workers, a quick catch up at someone desks. Working remotely doesn’t give you such opportunities to destress. You can’t go out for team lunches either. You have your little monster at home, nothing is as de-stressing as talking to them about their make-believe world.
One thing is for sure when you are working from home it is extremely difficult to compartmentalize, you cannot leave your office behind and walk out.
Give Slack a chance! We chase deadlines with gusto but we also discuss haircuts, movie reviews, Twitter trends and everything else on Slack. In a virtual team, comradery may take time but it isn’t unheard of. And since we all work from home over time, I have developed an understanding with my co-workers that one of us needs to log out early because we are needed in the kitchen or have to take the kid to a birthday party.
The most important thing to learn that even if your boss can’t see you, your work speaks.
The views expressed are the author’s own.