To combat the COVID-19 pandemic, the vast majority of office workers have already switched to telecommuting. Logistics and supply chains continue to function regardless of the circumstances. The AsstrA transport and logistics corporate group team also continues to handle its daily duties, but now in a new mode. There are pluses and minuses to working from home, which therefore requires its own set of practical skills and competencies.
According to Morneau Shepell's research, 40% of respondents feel disconnected from society because they work outside the office. When working remotely, people have no direct eye contact or face-to-face physical communication. And it is therefore not as natural to give or receive a kind word as it would be while completing work in the office.
The organization of one’s time and workspace is another test for telecommuters. When you work and live in the same space, there is obviously no clear boundary between the two aspects of life. Your colleagues have the same level of access to you all the time, so there are no natural shifts between work and modes. It’s easy to work late completing a presentation, for example, or get distracted by household chores during working hours.
According to Karina Budinskaya, Training and Development Center Director at AsstrA, low levels of physical activity during the day are another minus of working from home.
“At my home, the distance from the balcony to the living room door is no more than 7 meters. At the office, it takes 7 minutes to walk from my desk to the accounting department. Along the way, I can pick up mail at the reception, make an appointment with my colleagues and, while making coffee in the kitchen, discuss a couple of current affairs. I simply can’t do as much at home; the environment is not as dynamic,” Karina Budinskaya shares.
However, remote work has an impressive list of advantages. According to the Superjob research center, almost one fifth (22%) of today’s businesses have remote staff. Another 10% of respondents make dedicated efforts to attract outsourced staff.
Modern offices often have open spaces format in which it requires extra effort to focus. Extraneous sounds, phone calls, and chitchat can be distracting and reduce productivity. At home in a well organized workspace it is easier to fully immerse yourself in the task at hand. There is often more time to tie up loose ends that may be more difficult to complete in the office.
In addition, remote work helps promote flexibility. The idea that work can be done only from the office starts to fade. Workgroup members get in the habit of using online tools for conferences and discussions. Remote work also encourages the development of other soft skills like responsibility, discipline, and creative thinking.
The undeniable advantage of remote work, according to Karina Budinskaya, is saving time completing one’s morning routine and commute. That time that would have been spent traveling can be used for self-development, talking with loved ones, or even just extra sleep.
Remote work is convenient, but it requires discipline, motivation and determination. The Pomodoro method is one way to organize working time. It involves dividing the workday into 30 minute segments or “tomatoes.” Every tomato consists of 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of rest. The method’s creator, Francesco Cirillo, recommends switching your attention to a different task when you start a tomato. After four such segments, you should rest for 10-30 minutes.
Personal productivity expert Brian Tracy advises starting your workday by “eating the frog,” i.e. doing the most difficult and unpleasant task from your to-do list. Getting it done brings satisfaction and a positive attitude for the whole day. The more difficult the work, the greater the joy when it is over.
“Start every morning with a cold shower. It will give you an energy boost for the whole day. To maintain motivation while working from home, set a goal, write it on paper and put it somewhere you can see it. You will have a visual reminder of the goal you are working towards,” recommends Olga Kostanenko, Director of the AsstrA Service Center Department.
Natalya Demchenko, Ukraine Regional Country Manager and Kiev Branch Manager, adds: “In your daily plan, prioritize tasks according to the criteria “important / not important” and “urgent / not urgent.” This will help to avoid situations where deadlines are “burning.”
Dmitry Lagun, AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG Corporate Group CEO, recommends a detailed timetable. Single out one main task and its associated subtasks. At the end of the day, summarize the completed tasks and prepare a list for the next day.
Another life hack is to close unnecessary tabs in your web browser. They will distract you and scatter attention. Regularly airing the workspace, some light exercise during the day, and a good rest over the weekend are all critical ingredients in Dmitry Lagun’s recipe for productive workdays.
“To feel some team spirit and get support from colleagues who are also working from home, use modern communication apps like Zoom, Webex, or Skype. Where possible, choose video calls to create a sense of presence. They will also help motivate you to look presentable during the working day,” Dmitry Lagun summarizes.