Remote work has become more challenging and requires a fresh look as most of the corporate workforce has moved to home offices on a full-time basis. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 70% of people globally worked remotely at least once a week. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic struck most of the corporate workforce has moved to home offices on a full-time basis. But this changes in working conditions also poses a risk for the corporate workforce’s productivity to decrease. Working from home, with family or alone, requires a fresh look at the challenges.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, discussions on the working environment were centered around topics such as the interaction between employer and employees, streamlining the onboarding process, privacy questions, internal communications and support staff’s health, flexible working hours for better work-life balance, sophisticated technologies to support remote working and more stimulating spaces at headquarters.
All of these topics aim to support well-being and boost the workforce’s productivity, while reducing overheads. But how relevant are they both now while we’re in the midst of COVID-19 and once a new, post-COVID-19 reality forms?
7 core challenges of working remotely
To understand this we must look at the seven core challenges of the working reality we are facing now and potentially post-COVID-19:
1. An optimal, physical workspace
Remote workers value a dedicated workspace (away from family) and the freedom to move around the house, go to a café or co-working space for a change of scenery. This makes sense as some places stimulate focus and productivity while others are better for planning, communicating or playing. Feng Shui helps discover personal power spots and enables the use of the most suitable areas for high performance. Unfortunately, this aspect is still underestimated in the Western World. Now, that we are spending so long at home, why not review and optimize your work and study room arrangements?
2. Creating and safeguarding your personal space
The commute to work allows us to mentally prepare/close the day. The spatial distance is also a natural division between professional and personal life. For many employees, especially those new to working from home, these borders are fading. This causes new, unknown stress. While flexibility during the day is valued to facilitate homeschooling, it remains a balancing act between getting work done, taking care of family matters, self-care and sanity. A structured day, incorporating all those needs, helps maintain mental well-being and physical health, while safeguarding your personal space and limiting interruptions.
3. Staying productive
When working from home, staying focused and productive, getting into a workflow, is much more difficult with family around. Besides safeguarding your borders by carving out dedicated and uninterrupted working time, it’s important to focus on one task, one clear mission, at a time. Clicking on a link you received by email might already be enough to pull you into the big black time hole called the internet. Several studies conducted at Stanford University by Clifford Ivar Nass describe the young workforce generation (Millennial and GenZ’s) as suffering from an epidemic of multitasking. Time management for social media activities is essential to stay productive.
4. Optimising interaction & communications
Working remotely is challenging for employees and employers alike. According to a study by the Boston Consulting Group, employee’s top need is a clearly communicated mission and support in defining objectives. Daily check-in moments increase trust, help prioritize tasks and help keep employees stay focused. Closing the day with a short summary by email is a tool to safeguard your personal space and manage expectations too. But good communication is also essential amongst family members to avoid misunderstandings and keep the family harmony. Plan time for board games or family to keep the conversation going!
5. Keeping a positive mindset
Emotions and thoughts are strongly influencing health and even radiate outside of our bodies. That way we attract whatever we think of most into our reality. Negative mindset and emotions are also trigger for diseases as they weaken the immune system. Staying positive, practicing gratitude and compassion increases vibrations, strengthens the immune system and heals the environment Any form of meditation or martial arts like QiGong or Tai Chi can help achieve this. They calm the mind, increase breathing, heart frequency, circulation and mental focus. Try to engage the kids too!
6. Bonding with nature
Busyness is dictating our lives with tight project deadlines, business meetings and conferences. It’s difficult to balance career and family while keeping business and social media afloat. Resultantly, we often neglect time or space for walks in nature, a swim in the nearby lake or sea, birdwatching or gardening. Multiple studies have revealed a strong link between longevity, happiness and spending time in nature. Besides a healthy diet, movement and socialising are the secrets of the centenarians of Okinawa to happy living. (IKIGAI – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life).
7. Reviewing and aligning your purpose
While the COVID-19 outbreak has forced a societal slow down, many people have started questioning their activities, careers and lifestyle. Many women especially started to seek new meaning. Discovering life purpose is a journey! While some people identify their calling early on, others need time and experience life to discover their true passions. As we see a new economy unfolding, new skills and approaches will be needed. Dedicate time for reading and new studies to re-invent yourself. Seek help from a coach or mentor to reveal your strengths from a neutral perspective and take this crisis as an opportunity for your personal growth.
Need help navigating these difficult times? Read also my previous blog Staying vital during times of crisis and Schedule a free 30-minute call to find out how I can support you!
This article was published in Research World and was under the Top 10 most read articles in 2020.
If you are interested in more research related information on how this pandemic influences our lives, economy and business decisions, this publication is a great resource.