Gradually, working at home gets harder 

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SHIFTING to the home office might be the new normal but it’s not without its challenges, whether it’s finding a quiet space to work, distractions and interruptions if small children are also at home, staying productive or feeling isolated if you’re used to being surrounded by colleagues.

Swaroop Kaushik…“The social disconnect is tough and can also contribute to lack of productivity”.

Swaroop Kaushik, CEO and founder of Jaga Workspaces in Belconnen, says working from home requires a shift in thinking and a very definite plan for it to be successful.

“The change in our day-to-day lives is the biggest thing about this shift we’re making – it’s hard to adapt to something new,” he says. 

Swaroop says that sometimes the first week or two of working from home can be okay, but gradually people start to feel the social isolation and find it harder to stay focused.

“The social disconnect is tough and can contribute to lack of productivity, when you’re used to your boss watching you or seeing your colleagues busy working away,” he says.

“We all tend to be competitive and curious about what’s going on around us, so working from home can sometimes feel like we’re in a prison.

“Group chats online, preferably via a video call so you can see the rest of your team, can really help and it’s more personal because the way we communicate verbally is different.”

Swaroop also recommends taking a disciplined approach and creating a routine that works for you, while fitting in with your office’s expectations.

“It’s easy to get distracted, but if you factor in your most productive times you will get more done,” he says.  

“Work out when your high productivity periods are during the day and plan your workload accordingly, so you can be efficient and have enough time to do things you enjoy, too.

“This isn’t going to be a short-term thing, we may be looking at three to six months of this, or more. We have to make it work for us.

“If possible, set up a designated, quiet workspace and commit to working there every day. Keep clear boundaries around your work time, and try to avoid it creeping into your home life.”

Making sure you get outside can help too, Swaroop says, whether it’s a brief walk around the block before you sit down to work, or spending time with family or pets.

Create a to-do list so you know what you’re doing for the day, and start each day by reviewing your priorities. 

“When you make your task list, stick to it,” he says. 

“Set goals and time limits for each task and cross it off when it’s done, which is effective and fulfilling.

“For me, I make a mental plan of what I need to get done, work for an hour, have a break, work for two more hours and have lunch. It’s up to us to dictate how it works best for us and set those boundaries.

“I’d also suggest staying off social media during the work day as much as possible too, as there’s so much content about COVID-19 that it can become distressing.”

There can be benefits too, he says, such as for him, not having to commute and being able to see more of his family and particularly his kids, aged 11 and two. 

“I can work around my family commitments – and I don’t have to dress up,” he says.

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Kathryn Vukovljak
Kathryn Vukovljak is a "CityNews" journalist.

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