The COVID-19 outbreak has pushedall organizations to adopt ‘working from home’. What used to be a choice or discretionary, or a ‘once ina while option’, is now part of our daily life for some time to come.

It is new, it’s achange, and can be uncomfortable. For those who are not used to working from home, distractions, lack of normal ‘working space’, ‘professional environment’, lack of resources that one takes for granted in an office space, like IT support, printer etc, can disrupt one’s working rhythm and productivity.

We at Marching Sheep transitioned to ‘work from home’ nearly 10 days back. With some simple processes in place, we as a team have ensured that we continue our pace of work.

Here are somethings we have done-

1.     Aligning family and friends: As we are in our personal environment, and not in our usual professional environment,there will be several instances of disturbances like family or neighbors peeping in, children wanting to spend time with you, some domestic chore that needs attention, which eventually makes one lose train of thought. Creating a workspace and aligning people around you that your office timings are sacrosanct, and you cannot be disturbed during these hours can be a start.

2.     Create a workspace that works: Creating an effective and consistent workspace is essential if you want to stay on track and get things done. Make your space a stress-free zone of quiet and solitude where you can concentrate. Also, your work should not intrude into the lives of other household members. It’s almost impossible to work effectively at home if there are other people nearby. So, be sure to have a place to go where you can shut the door on potential distractions.

3.     Stay focused on daily and weekly deliverables– as a team, we have re-aligned our goals. While most of our clients are also on work from home, there are several developmental activities that we are focusing on. We are focusing on how we can help clients tide over this uncertain, ambiguous period. We take every day at a time and ensure we complete our tasks as scheduled.

4.     Regular Monitoring and evolving– while we have our daily and weekly deliverables, monitoring our progress and evolving our task lists to meet the needs of an evolving environment ensures we stay relevant.

5.     Manage your time: Effective time management is essential if you want to continue hitting your deadlines when you’re working from home. Organize and prioritize key tasks with a To-Do List . This will help you to avoid procrastinating , or losing focus by ‘switch-tasking’ and add an extra layer of structure to your day.

6.     Managing Break times– Use the lunch break, tea/ coffee time to connect with those at home. They too are going through the change and spending that time with you will both comfort and pacify them.

7.     Leverage your social media: Social media is of utmost importance for any business. And now in this condition of outbreak, it has become a necessity. One should always try to be active on your professional social media like Linkedin so that visibility and relevance is maintained. At the same time, be cautious of fake posts and those that create and spread panic. All steps are being taken to deal with the situation. We all need to be responsible and take our own precautions.

8.     Motivate your team: There is possibility of employees getting demotivated or losing interest at this crucial time.As an organization it’s your responsibility to help them manage this situation and eventually overcoming it. Stay connected with your team as much as possible. We at Marching Sheep, do this by a having a con call with team every evening to discuss updates and also how we all are coping with this situation. It’s not always about work but building the comfort and psychological safety that we are together in this as a team.

9.     Embrace technology– Zoom meetings, skype, conference calls, google hangouts are great tools to leverage at this time and plan to run effective meetings using these tools. Plan your agenda, share with the participants in advance, share clear expectations so that meetings do not over run, but are productive and meaningful.

What is important to note for employers at this stage that this is not a work from home in normal times. Families with both spouses/ partners working, and a lockdown impacting the availability of domestic help, schools being shut, is adding the burden of domestic chores and childcare. Allowing for flexibility, allowing for time off to help your employees take care of their familial and domestic responsibilities will emotionally and psychologically support the employees. It will make them happier, focused and more productive when they are working.

Working from home can be challenging but if handled effectively and mindfully, it can be fruitful and productive.Without the proper checks and balances in place, it can just as easily lead to feelings of isolation and lack of motivation.Keep the lines of communication open between team members to manage working in a virtual team. Nothing stays forever, this too shall pass. So, let’s learn a thing or two from this phase of life, and emerge the better for it!