Wednesday | 15 April | 2020
By Wilma Bedford
In a wink Covid-19 changed everything that was known and normative. How we think and do are going to change and this also applies to how we are going to work in the future.: in isolation from the home office. The question is how effective is working from home?
In research by Professor Nicolas Bloom from Stanford in 2014 among 1 600 employees of a Chinese travel agency over a period of nine months it was found that working from home resulted in a 13% higher production and a decrease of 50% in resignations. The only requirement was that the employees must be online and that they had to work from their offices one day out of five. This proved to be a win-win situation in that the firm benefited through employees who worked a full shift, were not late for work, took less sick and occasional leave and saved the company office space and expenses, while the employees saved on travelling expenses and commuting time.
After nine months the employees were given the choice of either continuing to work from home or to come back to the office. Only 50% of the employees agreed to distance working while the rest chose to come back to the office, and the reason they gave was that they felt isolated, depressed and lonely.
If you have the choice of distance working it is essential that you appoint a home office and protect yourself against isolation and depression.
The most important thing is that you should reserve a space for work only; it must not be a place associated with relaxation such as the couch in front of the TV and your family must respect the place as a formal office. The next requirement is that you must have a reliable internet facility and the software for holding video conferences on your computer.
After everything has been installed and you no longer have to go to the office, it is time for self-discipline: Get up at the usual time and get dressed as if you are going to the office, work your normal hours and see to your personal affairs outside of these hours as you would have in an office setup. You could find that you now have more time, but do not get caught in the trap of procrastination.
Draw up a schedule and make the family aware of the fact that a specific time has been set aside attention to your children’s needs and essential household tasks. Ask the family not to disturb you. Inform your coworkers of your schedule so that they know when you will be available for video meetings.
Stick to a routine: have teatime and lunch at a fixed time and for a fixed period and then return to your dedicated workplace.
If your spouse also works from home, you can divide the day into shifts and ask the other person to take over caring for the children, pets or household tasks at a specific time while you work.
Schedule a specific time for social media, reading and replying to emails and attending to WhatsApp messages and notifications. To make sure that you are not interrupted, switch off the social media during your office hours and close all unnecessary apps.
See to it that you stay mentally fit. Separate your work from your personal life and make time for the out-of-doors, sport and exercises and for socialising.
Stay in contact with your co-workers by means of video-conference sessions so that you stay motivated and don’t feel isolated.
The Productivity Pitfalls Of Working From Home In the Age Of Covid-19
Gorlick, Adam. March 2020 Stanford News. http://www.news.stanford.edu
Working from home to steer clear of the coronavirus?
Qama Qukula 17 March 2020PM CapeTalk https://www.capetalk.co.za/articles/378060/10-practical-tips-on-how-to-work-from-home-effectively
* All information was correct at the time of publication.