WFH as the New Normal: Perks, Pitfalls, and Pointers
As global companies begin to reopen post quarantine, it has become evident that remote working is still the most viable and risk-free option for many who conventionally work in offices. This article (the first of two parts) will delve into the pros and cons of working from home—and how you can ensure your productivity and wellbeing in this new normal.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way many of us work. Here are the pros and cons of our new normal—and tips on how to ensure productivity while still maintaining work-life balance.
The perks of working from home
At first glance, working from home (WFH) can seem like a dream come true. There’s zero traveling involved: you’re no longer rushing out of bed and out the door only to endure a stressful commute to work.
Expenses can pile up when you work in an office, with travel expenses such as gas, parking, or public transportation costs, as well as food and drinks from restaurants and expensive coffee shops throughout the day. This is hard-earned money that you can now count as savings.
You can stay close to your loved ones. Real quality time, without the physical and emotional stress that comes with traveling to and from the office, is now easier to achieve. You also have greater control over how and when you work.
The pitfalls of working from home
But these perks can also be the pitfalls of WFH, and the blurring of the lines between our personal and professional lives can take its toll.
While traveling to and from work isn’t always a pleasant experience, it’s a way for you to mentally prepare for your workday, as opposed to just diving into your to-do list. After working hard all day, the commute home or after-work drinks with friends is also a way to decompress. WFH doesn’t give you that.
Being with family or roommates 24/7 can also become a problem. There are household chores to be done. There are children or senior citizens to care for. Each employed member of the household has work tasks to accomplish and may need quiet time for it. And the fact that you now have control over your work process can be both boon and bane—it could lead to working too much or not working at all. And for those who live alone or are more extroverted types, the lack of physical interaction can be saddening.
Pointers for working from home
As we work where we live and live where we work, it becomes even more important to set mental (and if possible, physical) boundaries between our work life and home life to stay productive, avoid burnout, and strike a balance between our two important roles. Here are some tips.
- Have a daily household meeting and an online calendar. A quick ten-minute meeting every morning can be a great help. Who can take care of the children? Who can prepare the day’s meals? Does anyone need quiet time for an important conference call? What errands and chores have to be done, and who can see to them? Scheduling time to discuss everyone’s needs and tasks for the day will keep your household running smoothly.
- Ease into your workday. Your commute has been replaced by a quick stroll from your bedroom to your workspace—making it very easy for you to simply dive into your inbox. This is a quick path to burnout. Instead, spend several minutes each morning doing something completely unrelated to work: meditate, do a quick workout, or read one chapter of a book.
- Have a designated workspace. This is the only place where you will complete work-related tasks. Having a physical workspace makes it easier to draw a line between your personal and professional self. Ideally, this would be a room that you can leave to signal your brain that the workday has ended, but this may not be possible in smaller apartments or homes. Whatever your WFH setup, pack up all of your work-related things when the day is done, the way you would do at the office.
- Schedule breaks. Set calendar alerts for quick breaks throughout the day. Stand up and make yourself a cup of coffee or tea. Chat with a friend on the phone. Make time for a quick workout. Do stretches that counteract all the time spent sitting and typing.
- Set a daily alarm to stop working. At the office, seeing your colleagues packing up and heading out reminds you that another day has ended. Without this visual cue, you can easily overextend your day buried in work. Setting a daily alarm will prevent that.
- Plan for your next day. Before you pack up, identify your priority tasks for the following day and write them down. A to-do list eases worries over pending tasks and gives your workday clear goals and direction.
This global health crisis is sure to have a long-term impact on the world of work, with the WFH setup proving feasible for both traditional companies and smaller businesses. This increase in remote work means we must take steps to ensure productivity while still maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
Next week, we’ll discuss the role of management in fostering productivity for its employees working from home.
As one of the Top 20 EMS companies in the world, IMI has over 40 years of experience in providing electronics manufacturing and technology solutions.
At IMI, we believe that humanity drives technology, and we direct our passion at solutions that enhance our way of living. With more than 400,000 square meters of factory space in 22 factories across 10 countries, we are positioned to build your business on a global scale.
Our proven technical expertise, worldwide reach, and vast experience in high-growth and emerging markets make us the ideal global manufacturing solutions partner.
Let's work together to build our future today.