Making Work from Home Work for You during COVID-19

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By Zahra Diwan, Co-founder, ListenWorks

Making work from home.. work for you can be challenging. To successfully work from home and be productive there are 3 key facets that we need to consider-

Motivation- Motivation from one viewpoint is the desire to attain some goal, it consists of persistence, choices and intensity of focus. The environment can have both positive and negative effects on motivation. During the lockdown, there has been a sudden change in our environment and that has affected our motivation towards our work. In order to boost our motivation levels and respond adaptively to the change in our environments, we need to respond in certain ways.

  1. Acceptance- Accepting that we are in a crisis situation wherein uncertainty is high is of paramount importance. It is essential to moving forward and adapting to ensure the continuation of our work. Acceptance is difficult to come, but we can accept the situation if we focus on what matters to us. For example, it is important to work because I want to contribute to society and want to be financially secure. This is what really matters to me thus I will accept the changes in my environment even though they might be difficult and adapt to it. It is essential to show what matters in your actions. 
  2. Being more aware of the present- If the fear of uncertainty or recurring negative thoughts is creating a hindrance in you performing a task it is important to notice that you are having a negative thought. Remember noticing does not mean believing and pull yourself gently back to work tell yourself that it would be better if I were more present in my work. 
  3. Focusing on what you can control- In these uncertain times where it is natural to feel like your losing control. It is important to focus on what you can control instead of what you can’t. For example, you cannot control a persistent negative thought popping up in your mind but you can control your actions. That is, you could either let that thought have a negative impact on your actions such as procrastinating or you could choose to act and complete your project because you are truly in control of your behaviour and actions.
  4. Creating a work mindset and environment – This involves creating a mini office in your home, following the same prior work routine that includes showering, wearing formal clothing and preparing meals in advance.
  5. Balancing family and work time- This is an unprecedented phase and interruptions from your family time that spill onto work time and vice versa are acceptable. By creating a schedule where each member of your household is productively engaged you can manage these spillages better thus enabling you to concentrate on the task at hand.  
  6. Using your personal preferred schedules to your advantage- Night owls and early birds can complete an individual task at the time of day they feel most productive.

Ability- Productivity requires both motivation and ability. This unprecedented phase places higher demands on our pre-existing abilities and requires the formation of new abilities.

  1. Continuous Learning- Acknowledge the importance of continuous learning. Either learn progressively as you encounter problems or take a learning break to learn that particular skill in totality.
  2. Sharpen your pre-existing abilities- Challenge your pre-existing abilities in new ways for example if you are already well versed with a particular task try reducing the time you spend on that task thereby finding new ways to become more efficient at it. 

Communication- Communication is more important than ever while working from home. These are a few ways to enable you to communicate better. 

  1. Make a work-related communication technology induction program- If work from home is new for you, then it is essential that you first make a program to familiarize your team with the technologies you will be using. This is because communication control, which is an employee’s capability to control the use of work-related communication technology, has been shown to reduce the negative relationship between remote working and helping behaviour.   
  2. List down pointers before calling- This will aid you to remember what you have to discuss.
  3. Try to stick to work-related communication during work hours In settings where employees are expected to immediately reply to work-related messages, even after work hours. It is seen that these expectations have a negative impact on well-being. Work-related communication where employees feel a sense of flexibility to engage with technology happens when they do not expect a certain pattern of communication from their co-workers.
  4. Non-work related social communication-  This kind of communication usually happens naturally in an onsite work setting and might give a sense of belongingness to the team. You can video call your colleagues during chai/break time to promote belongingness. 

References

  1. Frank W. Bond , Steven C. Hayes & Dermot Barnes-Holmes (2006) Psychological Flexibility, ACT, and Organizational Behavior, Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 26:1-2, 25-54 
  2. Mazmanian, M. (2013). Avoiding the trap of constant connectivity: When congruent frames allow for heterogeneous practices. Academy of Management Journal, 56, 1225-1250.
  3. Piszczek, M. M. (2017). Boundary control and controlled boundaries: Organizational expectations for technology use at the work-family interface. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 38, 592-611. 
  4. Spector, P. (2015). Industrial and Organisational Psychology. Wiley.
  5. ter Hoeven, C. L., & van Zoonen, W. (2020). Helping Others and Feeling Engaged in the Context of Workplace Flexibility: The Importance of Communication Control. International Journal of Business Communication.

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