Working from home has become the unexpected norm for many around the world since the outbreak of COVID-19. According to a United States study, Owl Labs 2019 State of Remote Work report, remote workers are not only happier at work, but they’re 13% more likely to stay at their current job for the next 5 years than their onsite counterparts. However, this report does not take into account the circumstances surrounding a global COVID-19 pandemic. So, when you’re being forced to work remotely how can you make things work. 

The team at Paynow for Stripe have assembled some of our top tips for successfully working at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. Feel Connected

Depending on your circumstances working from home can be chaotic, kids running around and partner trying to work, or very quiet, it’s just you in your house 24/7. With either situation it’s important to feel connected to your work and your colleagues.

You may find you miss the chance interactions that happen with colleagues in the open plan office or at the water cooler. Talking to your cat just isn’t the same. The key is to start thinking about work communication tools being used for a range of communication types both formal and informal. Get purposeful about who you are communicating with and when. Set up social lunch chats with your favourite colleagues. 

FOMO (fear of missing out) can also be present for some remote workers. Overcome this by using share platforms, chat and video technology to stay involved and collaborating with your colleagues.

2. Communication

Great communication is really important to successfully working from home. It is suggested that over-communicating is actually the correct amount of communication to make things run smoothly. Context is also important. Be understanding that when you reach out to a colleague your timing may not be perfect for them. Receiving a short one word response should not be taken as disinterest, the dog might have just vomited on the carpet! 

Given a large portion of our communication is non-verbal the use of video conferencing tools like Zoom Meeting are critical. Seeing your colleagues and discussing ideas and strategies can be made more efficient and open if you can see each other on your screens. Know the best ways to communicate different types of information. For example non-critical information through share platforms like Trello or email, phone calls for urgent information, videos with meeting agendas to ensure they are purposeful and chat platforms like Slack for quick messages and banter. 

3. Create separation 

If at all possible, create a dedicated workspace in your home that is just for you. Ideally behind a closed door is best. If you’re working at home with children or your partner, be sure to talk to them about when you are working and when you have family time. Create the ground rules for everyone in the house to follow. 

Look also at creating work life separation. By this we mean ensure you have work time and personal time and try not to meld the two together. According to the Owl Labs 2019 State Of Remote Work report, US-based remote employees tend to work more than the standard 40 hours per week—that’s 43% more than on-site workers. Don’t get trapped into constantly working just because it’s now in your living space.

4. Create routine

Routines help us get through life and trigger our thinking at different times of the day. When working from home, continue to wake up at the same time each day, get dressed for work and sit down at your workstation with a plan for how your day will look. Being at home can require a lot more discipline when it’s easy to be distracted by the fun stuff to do in the next room or the ever growing pile of ironing you just have to get done! Stick to your routine which should incorporate sleep, exercise, relaxation and your home responsibilities. 

Working from home will present challenges of all kinds. However, with a little bit of planning, communication and structure it can be successfully navigated. Increased understanding will be required from you, your employer, your clients and families as we all get settled into this new norm and make our way through the next 6 months while we overcome the COVID-19 crisis. 

Jo Coveney