The COVID-19 pandemic is an unparalleled challenge, and working from home has become a new reality that most employees have had to face. While the change was an abrupt and no doubt difficult adjustment for many, it has also resulted in much-needed family and downtime.
As South Africa and the world begins to learn how to live life in this way, the question still arises, “For how long will this last, and what do we do afterwards?” Not every job easily fits into a remote working setup, which means that inevitably some of us will have to adjust again when the time comes to go back to work.
Being back in an office 40 hours a week can be draining. Here are a few ways that you can future-proof yourself now so that going back to work is simpler and easier than this transition has been:
- Create routines
A routine is defined as “a sequence of actions regularly followed.” Routines such as waking up at the same time, and getting yourself ready to work, even at home, will help you to build habits which will serve you well later. If you’re used to answering emails before you get your cup of coffee or checking up on colleagues first thing in the day, then maintaining these rituals can create a sense of normalcy both during and after this time.
- Communicate clearly
One of the advantages of working from home can be the separation from office politics, meetings you do not have to attend and the morning water cooler chats about the film or series your colleagues are watching on Netflix! Even with a family, if you have properly defined working hours and spaces, distractions and interruptions can be kept to a minimum. It is important that you communicate how you would like your time and space to be honoured when you do go back to the office. Setting clear boundaries upfront instead of falling to social pressure will definitely protect you from the disorganisation and distraction that others could potentially bring into your world.
- Keep your creature comforts
A home office allows you to work in your PJs and have your coffee pot within arm’s reach. In addition, fighting about the temperature and constantly changing aircon settings is replaced by the freedom to warm or cool a space just the way you like it. If you’re going to return to your office soon, you might want to consider bringing some of the items that you’ve grown accustomed to at home. This can include your favourite mug, a family photo and small blanket for those cold, winter mornings.
- Make your “Me Time” a priority
Offices are social spaces, and one can be seen as a “loner” or “anti-social” if they do not take part in the morning tea conversation, smoke breaks, lunch run and ad hoc meetings that usually take place. As you transition back into the office, it’s important to find a balance between being a team player and maintaining your hard-won productivity. You need to be honest when you’re busy and not to overload yourself with engagements. In addition, remember to make time for personal downtime, and if you can, leave your work at the office. When all else fails, noise-cancelling earphones might do the trick.
Change is never easy and for many of us, this is a time that will test our patience, courage and resilience. As you learn new ways of living, remember to take care of yourself and ask for help when you need it. Have a look at your business insurance policy – it may offer you a business support service, like MiBusinessAssist, which gives you access to a platform of external service providers. When it’s time to go back, make sure you and your team follow the safety regulations and keep updated regarding what government and health authorities recommend.