Lessons Learnt from #WFH

By Mel Sim

Remote working has definitely changed the way we think about work…

MCO 1.0 seemed like so long time ago where almost non-essential workers were required to take work home and work out of their kitchen tables, spare rooms, or at a corner in their bedroom. And yet here we are again, with FMCO in 2021 where it’s back to the daily grind of #WFH.

It seemed like we are all divided into two camps when it comes to remote working – you either love it or you hate it. Love it because you finally have that “work-life” balance you always wanted; hate it because your home isn’t exactly conducive to work out of.

But whatever your work from home experience, it’s here to stay – at least for a while until the numbers come down in Malaysia (and who knows how long that will take!)

One thing though, the whole experiment has definitely taught a lot of us some good lessons about work… and ourselves. Like these ones (see if you agree!)

#1 You can work from home and be productive
OK, so maybe the first week of our #WFH experiment involved a lot of “hello, can you see/hear me”, “why is my internet so slow”, “gah, my back hurts!”. But once we got into the rhythm of things, it’s like we never really left the office at all. Meetings were still going on, work still got handed in, and we were still having constant communication with our teammates. In fact, some days involved virtual lunches, just like the good ol’ days of Friday lunch with the colleagues (albeit a little different but who’s taking note). So maybe those companies that have advocated remote working even before the pandemic were really onto something….

#2 But what about work-life balance?
The dream about #WFH? Yay you finally get work-life balance. But the reality? When your work and home lives become so intertwined, you’ll realise that it’s not exactly the balance you thought you would be achieving.

Instead, many of us find it difficult to log off at the end of what should be your work day, working way beyond the hours. There’s no luxury of leaving the office behind, which means leaving work until the next day. Not when work is where you’re eating and sleeping as well!

The thing to do? It is to actually tell yourself to switch off. Unplug when the workday ends. You don’t have to feel guilty to disconnect from work. Set your work hours and stick to it; otherwise you’ll suffer from a #WFH burnout.

#3 Zoom fatigue is for real
Suddenly, everyone is on Zoom. And everything is done on Zoom. If it’s not Zoom, it’s some other video-call app. Attending physical meetings back to back is already tiring but with virtual meetings, it seems even more exhausting. The fact that you have to sit in one spot for one meeting after the other and giving your 101% focus can really take its toll on you physically and mentally. Add on the stress of your dog barking in the background or mum watching TV because you can’t work out of anywhere else but the living room. One thing’s for sure – we won’t miss Zoom fatigue when we head back into the office for real!

#4 Time management is essential
Now that you don’t have a 9-to-5 or a boss to look over your shoulder, managing your own time (as in scheduling meetings, keeping up with deadlines) is actually quite a hard thing to do. Then there are the many distractions from home (delivery guy, the many, many snack breaks, Netflix!).

But to be productive while you #WFH, it is absolutely essential that you master time management ASAP. If this is your first time working from home, it can be daunting in the beginning with so many things happening all at one. Our advice? Get help from apps (there are many scheduling and reminder apps) as well as create to-do lists so you’re on top of things. Be focused and most importantly, disciplined – remember, you are still on your company’s time and pay roll so you are required to contribute as you would in a physical setting. Once you’ve mastered time management skills, you’ll ask yourself why you didn’t do this earlier!

#5 Communication is key
And by that we mean clear communication. It is important to constantly keep in contact with your colleagues and boss to ensure everyone is on the same page. If you fall of that wagon, you can find that it can be difficult to pick up steam. Pd lan to communicate clearly what you are doing so everyone is in the loop. Send out emails first thing in the morning to go through the to-dos for the day. Or pick up the phone to talk to your client or colleague; emails can be misread at times.

#6 You need a “real office” in your home office
You can only work on your bed for so long… To maintain productivity, it is important that your home office models after your real office. And by this we mean a proper workstation if you can! Sufficient lighting, a good quality office chair and desk, well ventilated – all these will contribute to your productivity if you get it right. Last thing you want is to suffer from a neck ache from straining to work out of your makeshift office, which can lead to bigger things like migraines.

#7 Agile is real and it works
One thing MCO 1.0 proved? It’s that we can mobilise resources and make decisions really quickly about how to get everyone to work from home. Gotta admit it, it was pretty impressive to see Corporate Malaysia back to the daily grind despite CEOs, CFOs, COOs and everyone else (yes, you too!) working as they did when in the physical office.

Which goes to show that being agile is a plus and in cases like a pandemic, it’s what will help companies stay relevant and productive, even if decisions are made and changed all the time. The key is flexibility and to run with whatever needs to be done. If anything, the whole #WFH experiment has certainly forced us to focus on things that were urgent and needed our quick attention, and if pressed on, these things were dealt quickly. So see, we can make decisions on the spot!

What was the most important lesson you learnt about #WFH? Tweet us at @graduan

Photo by Surface on Unsplash

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