In the past two months, the world has been turned upside down globally by the ongoing corona virus pandemic. It has been difficult for those who have lost their jobs, others who have lost family and friends and others who have become completely been by rapidly changing environments. Ghana has just recently joined in this war against the corona virus and many people have been forced to stay at home and work from there.
If you are a part of this group, how are you surviving? How does one begin to work from home? Is it possible to be productive while working remotely? If you have children who have also been asked to stay at home, how do you juggle taking care of them, teaching them and performing at your highest. Your usual routine has taken a 360 turn. Now, when you wake up, instead of rushing to leave for the office, you can casually sit back in anything you would prefer to wear and work from any corner in your home. It is not as simple as it sounds. Now imagine almost immediately after you sit down to work, you remember that you have two kids. So, you head to the kitchen to prepare breakfast for them. After eating, your youngest knowing you are home insists that they want to play with you. Less than hour into your work time, everyone comes around and complains of hunger. You are distracted once again by the need to go and prepare a snack. You are on your phone more often, trying to keep up with the news and the thousand memes your friends keep forwarding to you have kept you laughing for three hours and counting. After several hours have run out, you still have not gotten any proper work in. These scenarios may sound very familiar right?
You may be unfamiliar with working from home but you are not alone. Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Hitachi, Apple, Amazon. Chevron, Salesforce, Spotify, some of the world’s most essential service providers have in the in the last few weeks rolled out mandatory work-from-home policies amid the spread of Covid-19, and it is realistic to assume that shifting to the ‘home office’ will become the new normal for many of us for a while. Some employees will be working from home for the first time, which means figuring out how to stay on task in a new environment that may not lend itself to productivity. But there are ways to deliver results and avoid going stir-crazy, from setting up a good workspace to the way you talk to your team. (BBC, 2020)
With the advancement of digital communication technologies, the tools that can facilitate remote working teams is not a foreign concept. In fact, before this pandemic, many businesses had adapted remote working, especially startups that have been unable to cater for physical structures as offices. Thanks to ever-evolving technologies like Skype, Facetime, Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, authenticator apps, and cloud computing—not to mention texting and email—it is no longer necessary to be in an office full-time to be a productive member of the team. In fact, many kinds of work can be done just as effectively, if not more so, from a home office. (Investopedia, 2020).
A 2020 article in Forbes shares a report by FlexJobs—an online service for telecommuting, flexible schedule, part-time and freelance jobs—there has been a spike in the amount of people doing remote work in the U.S., and wanting to travel is one of the top reasons why people say they work remotely. Over the last five years, remote work grew 44% and between 2005 to 2017, there was a 159% increase in remote work. Today, there are 4.7 million Americans working remotely, or 3.4% of the population—that is up from 3.9 million U.S. workers in 2015. Although the statistics may not be particularly as high, Ghana and many other African countries have quickly caught up with the idea of working from home.
Self-discipline is why much of the advice about working from home includes things such as getting dressed for work, even though you might work just as well in your dressing gown. Our lives are driven by our habits and mindsets. What we continually do is what amounts to the results we have. Our habits can slow our momentum, destabilize us emotionally and bring our lives to a complete halt. So getting some structure in the form of a schedule can be a helpful guide to getting things done. If you do not have the needed skills to help you get the most out of your day, consider developing these: self-accountability, self-discipline, organization, collaborating and communicating using digital tools.
Team work is still an important part of achieving success, except that this time, a lot of it depends on the ability of each team member to be productive while still freely working from home. Being self-accountable means recognizing that you cannot do what you like throughout the day. You may still be required to collaborate with others which means you must still be efficient during the normal working hours during the day. When organizing your day, remember to be realistic and take into account the fitness of your home environment as a work space. You may or may not have kids, you may or may not have a desk similar to that at your office, you will be distracted by other things more often. But to organize yourself means that you intentionally create the environment that will aid your productivity. If you have kids, engage them in activities that will not need your attention often. Prepare meals and snacks the day before or over the weekend so you are not worn out doing so during the day. Write or type out everything you need done and create realistic timelines to get tasks done.
- Create a physical and mental work space
It is very easy to do homey things because you are home. We must bring our consciousness and thinking to balance getting work done and managing our home space. Being present means being aware of the change in your working environment, acknowledging the change and adjusting your mental to accommodate the shift. Do as much as you can to create a bespoke space exclusively for work. Sara Stutton, CEO of FlexJobs states this, “Not having a well-equipped home office space when [people] begin remote working can cause a temporary decrease in productivity.” This will serve as a reminder to others who share your home with you that you have serious business to take care of. It is much more difficult to be lounging in bed and expect others around you to believe you are seriously working.
- Stay connected
Not having your usual team with you can take a negative toll on you. Sometimes you may face challenges whilst working and you will immediately feel discouraged. If you were to be on the office, you would have asked for help. You can do same at home. There are several digital communication tools such as Slack and Zoom to help you manage your team communications. Call a colleague and talk about the challenge. There is also evidence that prolonged isolation could also potentially impact on morale and productivity. So do well to sustain a semblance of normalcy and camaraderie in unconventional ways, Larson says.
- Build New Habits
According to researchers at Duke University, habits account for about 40 percent of our behaviours on any given day. Understanding how to build new habits (and how your current ones work) is essential for making progress in your health, your happiness, and your life in general – James Clear. High performance is a lifestyle. Day in day out, you have to be accountable for how you used your time. What worked well and what did not work out so great? Why did not things go as planned? If you achieved an extraordinary feat, how did you get it done? Do not let days go by without checking in on how you are performing at home. It will help to also do same with your colleagues. It is better to move forward and progressively as a team so you are not demoralized by the fact that things may not be going great. Reflect on your day on a daily basis so you can build new habits where there are loopholes. This will release the emotional and mental burden on you to turn your whole life around because the option to make gradual changes is available to you!
- It will be okay
You may not be able to adjust so quickly if working remotely is not something you are used to. But in these tricky circumstances, you must be determined to do the best you can. It is okay to not have it all figured out. In whatever position you may hold – a leader, an employee, a manager – there is a part to play to make sure you are still serving your clients and community in the best way possible.
Keep your spirits up and carry on. These dark days will soon come to an end. Learn as much as you can about yourself, friends and family. Learn new skills, discover new ways of getting things done despite the limitations. In the end, you will come out transformed!
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
Dzigbordi has been featured on CNN for her entrepreneurial expertise. She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017.
She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org and @dzigbordikwaku across all social media platforms.