Employees have long sought better work-life balance, and although remote work was already trending in previous years, the pandemic might have just granted their wish. It looks increasingly likely that most employers will continue to offer work-from-home arrangements in the future.
If you’re like many working parents in today’s world, that’s excellent news. Staying at home while you get work done means you get to keep an eye on the kids and minimize exposure to the germs outdoors. But this new working arrangement will require some adjustment.
Even as you and the rest of your colleagues are getting used to interacting through apps, your family will also need to adjust to your presence most of the day. So how can you make this transition go down smoothly?
Whenever you work with a team, individuals will play their parts a lot better when the ground rules are laid down clearly. Employers will see to it that this is done when they allow their workers to do their jobs remotely. Your family will be part of your team in this, so you need to set proper expectations.
Older members of the household might be familiar with the concept of remote work, but don’t make any assumptions. Remember, under the old arrangements, whenever Mom or Dad was home, they were off work. They could play with young kids, help with homework, or be available to talk with their teenagers. Those habits need to be realigned with your new normal.
Tell them what sort of work you do, the equipment you need, and the schedule you’ll be following each day. This will help everyone understand why you still need some space to concentrate and do your job, even though you’re at home. It also means less conflict over that precious internet bandwidth; kids need to hold off playing games over the network during your office hours. You’ll also want to keep your family in the loop when any changes come up at work. If a meeting is suddenly moved to later in the day, let them know so that the environment can be quiet.
Prepare the essentials
If you’re going to work remotely in the long term, then you’ll need to invest extra effort into a home office setup. And the easiest point of reference for this would be your workplace. The office environment needs to enable the necessary functions, enhance performance, and provide a degree of resiliency.
In terms of functionality, make sure you have all the equipment you need to perform your job. Computers, multiple screen displays, printers, and traditional office supplies; everything should be within reach. If you’ll be doing a lot of video calls, it might be time to upgrade your lighting and sound setup as well.
Performance enhancements in your home office might depend on your working preferences. Most people will benefit from good ergonomic furniture. At the same time, you don’t want to get too cozy. Use a reasonably comfortable chair, a table that places your screen at or below eye level, and move the couch or bed to another room. While you’re at it, move all non-essential devices elsewhere to minimize distractions.
Modern offices place a premium on backup and contingencies. They have commercial HVAC service on speed dial in case the cooling goes down, for instance. When you work remotely, you need to take charge of resiliency as well. What do you do if your internet connectivity gets lost? Do you have backup storage for your drafts and temporary files in case something happens? Have a contingency plan for these situations, because in the long run, emergencies will come up.
Working in harmony
Remote work doesn’t have to entail a complete separation of the work environment from your personal life. You’ll recall that a better work-life balance is one of the highly-touted benefits of this arrangement. It’s great to define the boundaries, but you should allow for some blurring and crossing over to occur.
How many jobs allow employees to bring their kids to work each day? This is a chance to show them around and lead by example. They can pick up time management and prioritization tips and observe how you interact with professional colleagues.
On the flip side, you get to manage the house more closely. You can supervise the schedule and execution of chores to your satisfaction. Your home might never have been this organized or efficiently run before remote work enabled you to spend more time there.
Working from home is an opportunity to be closer to your family even as you perform your job. You get to take breaks as needed. You can give your children extra attention. Work in harmony with your family, and it’s a win on all fronts.