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Are you still trying to adopt to this new prolonged ‘work from home’ arrangement amidst COVID-19 ? Have you been able to work effectively from home regardless of the various tempting distractions and personal obligations? Well, if you are in a similar dilemma, this article is geared towards sharing some ideas on how to readjust, refocus and maximize on your various duties while working from home.
Effective Wednesday, March 18th, 2020, all non-essential employees across Jamaica to include government and private sector workers are required to work from home. “Non- Essential Work” according to the directive from the Office of the Prime Minister is work which can be done outside of the traditional office setting. Further to this announcement, many private and public sector companies have implemented ‘weekly work rosters’ for their staff which stipulate the days of the week staff members may work from home in keeping with the social distancing policy.
However, frankly speaking for many workers the ‘work from home’ policy while welcomed in limiting their risk of exposure to COVID-19 has created some difficulties in “mirroring” the somewhat tranquil and organized environment that the office setting provides. Admittedly, the reality of an average Jamaican’s ‘work from home’ environment involves one or more of the following variables: (1) Family which often times include: unsupervised children, maternal/paternal grandparents who may need assistance etc. (2) Outside Home Environment i.e. a nearby noisy construction site/busy main road or community thoroughfare, noisy neighbors etc. (3) Personal commitments i.e. personal business that can be done outside the office setting (4) Unreliable Utility Service i.e. frequent electricity and internet service disruptions (5) Crime and Violence especially domestic violence and other dysfunctional behavior at home. While, this list isn’t extensive and absolute, it provides a general idea of the reality faced by most persons. How can we limit these distractions and maximize our work from home amidst this pandemic? Well, here are some researched and personally unique tips that you may find helpful.
(1) GET UP, GET GOING, START EARLY
Yes, as the Jamaican Proverb would say; “Before cack put awn him draws”, meaning one should aim to get up before the break of dawn, before the rooster crows. This principle is well known among many persons and is grounded empirical data. According to a study of Japanese Workers, it found that we concentrate and respond better to stressful events in the morning. Therefore, if you find yourself to naturally be an early riser or based on your home environment; it would be better suited for you to start working from 4/5 am in the morning, then go right ahead and start doing so. Ideally, most persons including children are not yet awake and the peacefulness of the morning should boost your concentration.
(2) CREATE A PRACTICAL “WORK FROM HOME” ROUTINE
Depending on your current job description or your position/title; you would place significant value on this tip. Creating a practical “work from home” routine is crucial to any time sensitive or performance based job. For example: My personal “Work From Home” Routine is goal oriented to achieve certain objectives for the day. However, Let me hasten to mention that this routine does not have be similar to the routine at your office; instead it should be practical and cognizant of the variables operating from your home environment. Therefore, creating your own personal routine may improve your time management skills and improve your overall productivity. If you don’t currently have a “work from home” routine, here are a few suggestions that may help you to get started
(3) INCREASE USAGE OF NEW MEDIA TECHNOLOGY
This tip, while heavily dependent on your access to this technology medium is proving to be the new frontier of communication strategies for workplaces amidst this COVID-19 pandemic and could very well continue post-COVID-19. The use of voice/video conferencing platforms such as Zoom Video Conferencing Inc. has grown exponentially since the outbreak of the virus. The company has added 2.2 million active monthly users so far since 2020, compared to the 1.99 million users added in all of 2019 The current disposition of the workplace in Jamaica, especially in the private sector is pushing towards the use of new media technology to enable workers to continue working from home despite the virus. Additionally, this medium allows persons to keep an active line of communication with their colleagues by maintaining social distance. I would strongly urge all persons to sign up and get acquainted with all methods of new media technology that can improve your adaptability while working from home.
(4) MAINTAIN A PROFESSIONAL ATMOSPHERE AND ATTITUDE
This tip to maintain professionalism at home may seem paradoxical to the “relaxed” and “comforting” environment that the home provides for workers. However, the reasoning behind this recommendation is that the key to having a successful work from home lifestyle is to understand that you are still at work, its just that your environment has changed and self-discipline becomes paramount. While I am not necessarily suggesting that you get dressed in your three-piece suit and sit in your living room or study, however, there has to be a certain level of professional attitude and atmosphere created in order to achieve your goals. Therefore, if you have children they should be reminded that their parents are working, you should try as best as possible to not engage in social activities during designated work hours i.e. watching your favorite T.V. series or scrolling endlessly through social media etc. Balance is key and a personal reward system is always good. (Hint, Hint)
(5) RE-BRAND AND RE-ENGINEER YOUR COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE
This tip is geared towards developing the holistic individual and preparing you for the next step of your professional advancement. Frankly speaking, the passage of the COVID-19 virus has provided an impetus for persons to tap into the new sectors and job skills that are opening in the global economy. A recent study in 2020 by Forbes Magazine is showing that new skills will be needed in a post COVID-19 environment We must accept this new catalyst in the working environment and prepare to re-brand and re-engineer ourselves to adapt to the new working environment post COVID-19. We should assess what our respective current roles/purpose are in our work organizations and prepare to improve our skills to maximize our comparative advantage. Therefore, I strongly urge everyone to learn that new skill which will increase your productivity such as; project/report writing, quantitative research, digital marketing or even mastering the Microsoft Office Suite. The major take away is that you should improve your personal brand post COVID-19.