Picture: Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
Picture: Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

For most people, going to work has always meant waking up, dressing and driving through traffic or catching that early bus that takes you to the office. This has become the typical everyday routine for many people in SA and gives the discipline that is required to be productive and to be taken seriously in the community.

With the recent outbreak of Covid-19 and the implementation of social distancing as one of the measures to prevent the spread of the virus, many companies have asked their employees to work from home. This is possibly the “new normal” for workspaces, and it takes some people out of their comfort zone.

But working from home was always my normal. In 2008 I had to build a home office in order to run my first start-up business. Some lessons were learnt and a few challenges were overcome. It also instilled a lot of self-discipline.

The pros of working from home are: supreme flexibility, no traffic and extreme comfort. The cons? It takes practice, requires a significant amount of self-awareness and discipline, and needs laser-like focus.

Here are some points to consider when working from home:

1. RESPECT

Respect yourself, your work and your customers. It all starts with a mindset.

2. MAINTAIN YOUR ROUTINE

It is important to maintain your routine as if you were going to the office. If you usually exercise at 5am, continue to do so. Do not kill your momentum; keep going as normal.

3. SET UP A WORKSTATION

It is very important to set up a workstation in your home. It will take some trial and error to find a workspace layout that meets your needs, but the key is to have it resemble your office setup as much as possible. You don’t even need a private room; it can be a designated area in your home — but far away from the bed and the couch. If you have a home office already, great; if not, set up a specific work/productivity space. Avoid working in front of the TV or in bed.

4. COMMUNICATE

Stay connected to your colleagues and clients. This helps to maintain the culture, albeit remotely. Successful people who work from home always make a point of overcommunicating.

5. WATCH YOUR DIET

Be careful what you eat. It’s not #dezemba; you still have summer body goals. So use the time at home to also cook healthier food – avoid takeaways. Do not overindulge; focus on the work at hand.

6. TEACH YOUR KIDS

Speak to your kids and ask them to respect your work routine. Your children need to know your start and end times. Create a schedule the family can adhere to; the kids will eventually adapt. It’s OK to be transparent to your co-workers about the fact that you’re also juggling the needs of your kids, so they are not caught by surprise.

7. STAY ON THE PULSE

Remember your obligations to your employer or clients. You are not on holiday. Delivery and excellence are still expected.

8. DRESS UP AND SHOW UP

Dress up for those video calls. Don’t come on with your “home” clothes. The most productive people don’t wake up and instantly start working while still in their pyjamas. Instead, they get ready for the day the same way they would if they were going to the office — which, yes, involves putting on presentable clothes.

9. PUT A STRUCTURE IN PLACE

It’s easy to get distracted by personal matters when you’re working from home, because you’re so much more accessible there. That’s why you need structure — a consistent schedule that you’re strict about — to prevent distractions from disturbing your workflow. The easiest way to do this is to create a to-do list for each day. It should include very specific, measurable and achievable tasks.

10. DO NOT TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GRANTED

The option to work from home is a great privilege, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Do not take the opportunity for granted. Use the spare time to also work on yourself and develop yourself. Maybe get a new skill from YouTube or learn something new; read a book. Since you’re not stuck in traffic anymore, invest in your time.

This could become the new normal, so make sure you are prepared emotionally, mentally and physically.

  • Chinkanda is CEO of HDI Youth Consultancy

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