The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to fulfil our needs in online societies. We have grown accustomed to physical meetings, keeping in touch through social media and online platforms. We’re waving at our relatives through closed windows & doors, keep distance and have come to accept the lines in front of grocery stores. We are forced to be apart but are finding ways to (re-)connect.
Our behaviour has been forced to change rapidly in a relatively short period of time. A time-frame that our economic system wasn’t prepared for. Now that the numbers plummeted, there is room to innovate, cope, and implement.
According to AACSB the impact on business school-institutions can have a positive outcome. Institutions are encouraged to rethink their approach to technology and force innovative and alternative forms of online education, which in my opinion is the same challenge for companies.
How did it affect me?
Last February I started a traineeship in growth-hacking at The Talent Institute. Their program entails a one month of training followed by five months of working for a company supported by one training day a week in the first two months. At the end of the first month, the lockdown had started, meaning I would start working for my matched company (SignRequest) without meeting them physically or ever going to their office. This caused an uncomfortable uncertainty to say at least.
Luckily, my expectations were far away from what truly happened. I was welcomed warmly and SignRequest has swiftly adapted to working online. I’m in the lucky position to still have the opportunity to keep on learning and working during this pandemic.
But then, working from home started playing its part. In the first couple of weeks, I was discovering the company, and I started doing some small experiments. Midway through April, despite working efficiently and talking to my colleagues through Slack all day, it started to bug me that I hardly knew my colleagues, and moreover, being in the same place every hour of every day started to take its toll on me. Work surrounded me.
Should we prepare for ‘home-offices’?
According to McKinsey Europe has to be prepared to go back to work, safely. A trend they confirmed is working from home and scheduled office hours. I do think we’ll work more remotely since this could have major benefits for our health, ecological footprint, and finances. We’ll have a lesser need to travel with cars, don’t feel forced to go to an office, and spend less on travelling and office buildings.
These benefits sound great, but then the question remains: “how can we optimise working from home from the human perspective?”. If society allows this trend to be a norm we have to think about the referred life after COVID-19.
How I optimised working remotely
Personally, these are two questions. The first question is: How do I optimise my efficiency? the second question is: How do I stay happy (healthy)?
We are never alone. I am in a class of twenty-five like-minded people who are all in a similar situation. I’ve been talking to several to learn how they stay efficient. In my home, I already have a workplace, with a desk and monitor. These aren’t necessities, but having a dedicated workplace does help me to work more efficiently.
So how do I optimise my efficiency?
Well, I attached some notes on my monitor. Pink ones for work I am focussing on for the coming two weeks, blue for daily assignments to myself. On the blue notes, I have notes which tell me to:
- Ask for help;
- Close your laptop and think about the subject;
- Communicate about what you are doing;
- Write what you are doing down in 1 sentence;
- Collaborate in a video chat.
These are things I’ve been hearing about and came up with myself. I force myself to do these things myself because a lot of it normally flows out of an office-conversation. If something doesn’t work or doesn’t help me to focus on what I want to do I get rid of it. You could add some data to this, for example, the number of minutes your phone was used during your working hours. If it becomes too high, change something in your routine and see if it improves with a decent amount.
Healthy and happy
Being happy and healthy is different from everybody. In my experience, the lack of social activities does make me feel more numb for the difference in working and off-time. To improve these factors there are a couple of things you could start implementing today.
Health & happiness
- Having (healthy) meals at set times;
- Wake up early;
- Having a personal chat;
- Go outside twice;
- Do sports;
- Look away from your screen every 20 minutes;
- Work standing;
- Focus on your posture.
My next focus points
My next focus points are to work more to collaborate more & schedule a laptop-free day every week. For now, working from home might feel a bit forced, but there is a good chance this will cause a new trend. I am curious how you’ve experienced working from home till now, and what you think the office-life after this pandemic will look like!