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7 Skills You Need to Learn
When You're Working from Home
The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for most companies to adopt remote-work policies. Many positions do not strictly require showing up at the office as responsibilities can still be efficiently carried out regardless of the employee’s location.
A survey of 800 global HR executives, conducted by Gartner Inc., revealed that 88% of organizations have required or encouraged their employees to work remotely.
However, since most people are already used to the in-office dynamics, it can be challenging to transition to working from home. After all, it is an entirely different experience. Take, for instance, your ability to focus on work. It can be greatly reduced when you are surrounded by so many distractions - the kids running around the house, your favorite TV show playing in the background, your spouse or significant other feeling lonesome and trying to get your attention, or perhaps too much silence in your house. Of course, the new setup is in sharp contrast to the hustle and bustle of the office that you are already used to.
Although many employees welcome with open arms the idea of working from home, as shown in Buffer’s State of Remote Work report where 98% of the respondents indicated that they would like to work from home at least some of the time for the rest of their career, many still lack the necessary skills for taking on remote work.
According to the same report, 20% of the respondents indicated that they had trouble with collaboration and communication while working from home, 12% were unable to perform their duties due to distractions at home, 7% were unable to stay motivated, 20% said they felt lonely, and 23% were unable to find work-life balance or manage their time effectively.
We, therefore, present you with seven skills that you may need to master if you are willing or required to work from home:
Learning to manage your time
Living a balanced life
Learning to Manage Your Time
Working from home often means having a flexible schedule. You are free to use your day however you choose, as long as you meet the deadlines for your tasks.
However, the freedom you enjoy can become a problem. You might neglect your work until the last minute or even miss your deadlines.
Therefore, learning how to track work time when working remotely is an essential skill. Employing time tracking software can help you in that regard. Such software can also be useful in remote employee monitoring, in which case you can track the amount of time remote employees spend on their projects.
In order to stay productive, you have to put in maximum effort when your physical and mental energy is at its peak. Recognize the time of day when you feel most active and mentally clear. Schedule that block of time for completing your daily tasks. Tracking the amount of time remote employees spend on their projects can be challenging, but once you get the hang of it, the process will flow seamlessly.
While it’s one thing to try getting more done, getting overworked is always counterproductive. You won’t give your best and you might even fall ill. Therefore, make sure to have at least 10 – 15 minutes break every two hours or less, and try not to skip meals. You need to keep your brain happy if you are to perform well.
Even when you have too much time on your hands, you may realize that it’s still not enough to get anything done. Not because you are loaded with tasks; no; but because you cannot keep your focus.
In the traditional office setting, you are forced to concentrate on your work because you have no other option. It’s either you get busy or you get fired. However, when you are alone at home, the situation is different. There’s no one there to nudge you ahead. So, when you open your PC, your mind begins to wander. You seek one distraction or another. You pick up your phone and chat with friends, play a game, watch a movie, or even fall asleep - anything at all rather than completing your tasks.
If you keep avoiding your work while working from home, then you need to find a way to trick your brain into doing what you are supposed to do. Experts suggest the following:
Consider the cost of inaction: Take a minute to consider the consequences of missing a deadline. That might urge you to regain your focus and what is needed.
Don’t try getting things perfect at first try: You might be procrastinating because you are thinking about the effort required to do your work. Instead of doing that, why not just dive in and take it one step at a time? Afterward, you can improve on what you’ve accomplished.
It may also seem like you don’t have enough ideas yet but you need to realize that everything might not occur to you at once. You will get motivated and the ideas you need will begin to flow when you start doing the actual work. If you keep waiting, your procrastination will only get worse.
Becoming Tech Savvy
Remote work would not be possible without technology. So, if you are going to work from home, you need to get comfortable with using certain software. Without the right tools, you cannot perform your duties, and collaboration and communication won’t be possible.
Communication can be tricky for remote teams, especially when the individuals involved are culturally diverse and scattered across different time zones.
Information can easily be misconstrued even in an office setting where the team is able to meet face to face, and this is even more likely when communication is online. Reinforcing the following core principles can help make team interaction smoother:
Conciseness is crucial. Try to be as succinct as possible in your communication.
Assume that everyone on the team has good intentions and all want the same thing – achieving company goals.
Respond to people’s messages as soon as possible. It helps build confidence that communication channels are open and effective.
It is important to define up-front the context of communication. Make it clear whether you are presenting an opinion, a fact, or a directive.
Make sure that you clearly understand the information you received before going ahead to take action. Ask for clarification if there is any ambiguity. Consider multiple perspectives in a communication chain.
Collaboration between team members is vital for remote work.
Familiarizing yourself with some of the basic online collaboration tools can help improve your ability to manage remote work. Some of these tools include:
Video conferencing: Zoom or Google Meet
Real-time chat: Slack
Time and project management: Traqq
File Management: Google Drive or OneDrive
Can you take control of your time, make decisions, and handle issues on your own with minimal supervision?
In the traditional workspace, you might have other people looking over your shoulder to make sure you are getting things right. On the other hand, with remote work, you have no one to micro-manage your actions and you might not always have the chance to get other people’s opinions every step of the way.
Living a Balanced Life
Are you capable of separating your work life from your personal and social life?
Leaning too much towards one has a negative effect on the other. Since you don’t have to go to the office anymore and now do everything at home, you might work too much and forget to take care of other aspects of your life. Or you might not be able to make out time to complete your work tasks because of the responsibilities you have at home.
You need to stay on the middle ground. Put in enough effort when it’s time to work and then make sure you find time to do other important things. Read, socialize with friends, exercise, take your partner to dinner, spend time with your kids, etc. All these activities keep you sane and improve the quality of your work.
When you start working remotely, you realize that you have the freedom to schedule things any way you like. However, if you are not mindful, you’ll soon find that all you do now is work. Having a monotonous life can harm your mental and emotional health.
Further Reading from Skills You Need
This eBook is designed to help you through the process of ‘going digital’ and managing other aspects of life during a pandemic.
From how to get yourself online, through how to keep safe, to working, learning and staying in touch with friends and family remotely, the Skills You Need Guide to Living the 'New Normal' in the Age of Covid-19 covers the key skills you need to survive and thrive.
Working from home is not as easy as many imagine it to be. It may be exciting to think about but you need to stay realistic and consider what it entails.
Do you have the essential skills required to pull it off? – Can you manage your time well? Are you capable of performing your duties with minimal supervision? Is communication an issue for you? Can you maintain a proper work-life balance? These and more are questions you need to ask yourself.
Therefore, make sure you consider the seven skills discussed in this article and brush up on any area in which you might be lacking.
About the Author
Finidi Lawson is a tech enthusiast and a Windows 10 expert who writes for Traqq. His passion is finding effective solutions to Windows 10 problems and resolving the most complicated software and hardware issues. Armed with a high level of expertise and a deep understanding of how computer technology works, Finidi believes that his mission is helping people get the most out of their devices.