COVID-19 has fundamentally shifted the way we work and live our lives. With lockdowns in place around the world, businesses have shifted their operations to remote office places. This unprecedented “work from home” model has required workers to accept new realities. For many of us, the living room has become our designated office space, lunch breaks with colleagues have turned into five-person video calls, and loungewear has become the new workwear.
Here are five tips from ICC’s expert telecommuters!
In today’s era of digital connectivity, working from home requires a stable Internet connection. In most cases, personal internet routers lack the same capacity and bandwidth as high-speed office networks. This can be a problem for most telecommuters, especially when there are multiple Internet users on the same network.
“Normally I’m alone when I work from home, however now that there are four people using the WIFI at the same time, it can be challenging to receive a strong signal,” explained Aisling Achoun, Products and Services Manager for ICC Global Membership and Services. “I was on the phone with my colleague Adrien, when our conversation was suddenly cut short. I later found out it was due to my 8-year-old son starting up his video game in the other room,” she added.
A stable Internet connection is not always possible. Therefore, it’s wise to prepare for the unexpected and have an alternative option in place just in case. One simple solution is to enable the data hotspot feature on your mobile phone. By enabling this feature, your smartphone will create a Wi-Fi network, which you can connect to your laptop. Unlike your home network, mobile data connection is created to handle large quantity of users and so your mobile’s hotspot connection will be faster than your home network.
Separate work from home
Our daily commutes often serve as a much-needed adjustment period between work and home. Commuting offers us much needed time to prepare for upcoming deadlines or to decompress after a stressful day at the office. When we work from home, it can difficult to structure our days, review priorities or take time to relax. In response to these challenges, ICC employees are sticking by their usual schedules and morning rituals to prepare for work.
“It is much easier to be distracted at home or fall into a different routine; waking up and eating at new times or just going straight from your bed to the computer,” said Singapore based Will Moody, Digital Marketing Manager at the ICC Academy.
“As much as possible I have tried to keep my normal routine, including getting up at the same time, wearing my work clothes and eating at the same intervals.”
Whether it’s getting up early to exercise, taking a brisk shower, or enjoying a cup of coffee – these activities send signals to your brain that it’s time to focus on work. So do all the things you would normally do before getting ready for work.
This transition period is equally important when you have completed all your tasks for the day. Shut your work laptop down, clear your desk, change into comfortable home attire and avoid spending time in your office space if you can.
ICC employees have found that designating workspaces in their homes can improve a healthy work-life balance.
“I find it important to have a designated space for working which is separate from my space to relax,” said Jodie Shaw, Project Officer for ICC Global Events. “A proper desk or table is essential and natural light really helps,” she explained.
Choose a corner of your apartment for your new office. It doesn’t have to be a separate room but try to have the set up facing away from any distractions. If you normally work at a standing desk, try adding a couple of books on top of your kitchen counter.
Staying focused when confined with others
It’s hard to stay task oriented when you live in an urban area or a busy home. Given the extraordinary circumstances created by COVID-19, it’s likely that you will be working alongside family members, partners or housemates.
“I sit by the balcony and do my work, along with my kids who have shifted to remote learning,” said Priyanka Satapathy, Communications and Events Manager, ICC Academy. “Unless I have a call, we sit together and get on with our work,” she added.
The best way to ensure a productive work environment is for household members, including children, to adopt similar working patterns, as if your home was a coworking space. ICC parents are sharing workspaces with their children as they complete their studies from home. Many have described this experience as if they were partaking in a “take your kids to work” day in the office.
If you still find yourself struggling to stay focused, grab a pair of headphones and listen to some relaxing music. “The biggest challenge for me is not getting distracted! I use my headphones to tune out everything else around me. Japanese pop music from the 80’s helps,” said Natalija Dajic, Web Assistant with the ICC Global Communications team.
- Socialising while social distancing
Social distancing is difficult for everyone but without a doubt its effects are most felt by people living on their own. Whether it’s a workout class, a virtual book club or just catching up with friends over drinks – there are many platforms that you can use to connect with friends and family.
“A big challenge for me has been the low number of social interactions throughout the day,” said Lucie Stenger, Project Officer, ICC Customer Relationship Management. “I try to adapt by having a virtual lunch with colleagues every day.”
Some of the more popular applications used by ICC employees for group video calls, include WhatsApp, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and HouseParty.
Above all else, the most important thing is to take care of your physical and mental wellbeing. Work takes up a large portion of your day and working from home can be difficult for some but we hope these tips can make it a little easier for you!