How to effectively work from home?

Mar 25, 2020

There are two observations when it comes to working from home. One group usually thinks that people will get nothing done  and the other group believes workers will be happier and more productive. During some job interviews, companies have asked me if I was comfortable working with people depicting that companies now try to flex according to the personality of the worker rather than strictly following old traditions. I know this might not be possible in all the professions and many organisations in Nepal don't even have sufficient support system to run remotely.

About one and a half year ago, I was into a full-time MBA course. My college timing ranged from 7am-1pm on usual days. I'd also decided to take a full-time remote consulting job. Because of my college timing, it was not possible for me to go to office on regular hours and since I was consulting for firms outside of Nepal, I wasn't dependent on limiting factors. Therefore, I was working from home.

But let me be honest, working from home is not easy. I felt like I was busy all the time while getting very little done. So, I asked for help with a friend of mine, who was freelancing at the time and in his profession, working from home was more common. Below are some tips to be efficient while working from home:

  1. Set aside a workplace- First things first, set up a space, a work desk to be specific (if you don't want a backache) WFH can make you ignorant on your body posture. This also helps you to follow other tips below. Make sure the electrical port is reachable, get a bigger monitor if your laptop screen is too small etc.
  2. Keep regular work hours- Now, this is a tough one. I found myself confused--------working a few hours one day and pulling an all-nighter the next. Do your best to set work hours and stick to them. It's also important to not get your personal and work hours mixed up. Communicate your schedule to your boss and family members.
  3. Get organized- I was dealing with a lot of clients and following up with all of them was getting messy. I even bought a planner kinda diary- but you have to write in it, which means more energy investment! A simple and more effective solution that I discovered was Google Sheets! google sheets are easy and shareable. Also book your meetings using google calendar. Quick and efficient! My work required us to use various applications so that my work was monitored- tools such as Asana, Trello came handy.  
  4. Avoid Distractions- One challenge of working from home is accountability. Whenever you're on computer, there'd always be a few tabs (YouTube, Facebook?) Similarly, there'd be someone asking us to do some chores. I used Time Doctor to track my time which helped me realize if I was taking longer than required to finish off a task.
  5. Take Breaks- It's important to schedule time for frequent breaks throughout the day. Rise from your desk, stretch or walk around the house or down the street. Staying hydrated is important.
  6. Ensure your reach to your colleagues- It is important to maintain network electronically. Just because we are working from home does not mean our work does not concern anyone. Luckily, I had a mentor like friend who would have my back during difficulties. Some other minor improvements could be made by working on your writings (emails, reports) These will always be a added advantage.

I did not have much free time as I was juggling college and work. Another trick I used was, I listed down every college and work responsibilities for the week and planned my schedule a week ahead. Many times I had to give up hanging out with friends and avoid social functions as well.

During my internship period in college, just staying home and working seemed even more stressful than juggling both. I felt like I was getting lazier by day and social distancing was making me feel unhealthy. I therefore joined a gym. Working out is very important for everybody- esp when your work involves sitting all day. "Occupational hazard" as the doctors call it, can easily get you. Allocating just an hour everyday can not only improve your posture, but make you more active and keep you in a good mood. At the end, your work performance depends on both your physical and mental health.

These were some of the tips that helped me during my WFH. Please comment below if there's anything else that has personally worked for you!

Thanks to my friend Rohit Shrestha for helping me put these together. Go check out his blog!!