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Working from home: How to remain productive

By Nancy Nzalambi | April 26th 2020

The ordinary workplace has been disrupted and rearranged thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. Most organisations have sent their employees to work remotely. The fact that no one saw it coming, and we also do not know how long it will take to go back to “normal”, we had to quickly readjust.

Many managers found themselves with the job of leading remote teams, a first time for some. Employees had to work and be productive without direct supervision.

Managing yourself when in quarantine is not as easy as it sounds.

A workday without the usual face-face human interaction, working with your kids around and your bed within reach is on its own a daunting task. If you are in leadership, your role becomes magnified and more complicated.

As the pandemic continues to bite, with county isolations and more restrictive measures, work conditions have been made harder by pressurised conditions, uncertainty and some sense of dislocation.

How do we adjust and adopt to the new way of getting work done?

Re-evaluate your expectations

We usually have standardised ways of handling duties in our places of work. Being accustomed to a synchronised routine makes the workplace “normal”.

During this time, we are better off focusing on the results. We have been thrown to be flexible and accomplish our responsibilities in what seems like our own terms. We have to accept the new normal and get work done anyway.

Keep in touch

One way of building and sustaining morale at the workplace is to communicate as often as possible. Most employees are now working in shifts to avoid overcrowding. Instant messaging, or WhatsApp chatting can be used to get the entire team up to speed with the goings on at the office. Thanks to video conferencing and group call Apps, meetings can still happen and progressive decision making can be done.

This is also the time for “old school” folks to get accustomed to technology tools. If you’re are in leadership, regularly initiating conversations on communication platforms can get pretty exhausting. Assign more responsibilities to your team members to provide that extra boost in leadership support to guard against emotional isolation.

Learn to interpret emotional cues

It is difficult to interpret tone from text messages. You cannot rely on body language to gauge tone and emotions of your coworkers. Written communication needs a keen articulation to notice the pattern, volume and pitch of what is being put across.

If you know your coworker well enough, you can detect their emotions in their written communication and provide the support they need.

Be patient

Even with modern technology, there are bound to be interruptions and inevitable delays in communication platforms. When there is just a handful of you in the office, probably due to working in shifts, you do not have the privilege to walk into someone’s office to find real time solutions. Your emails may not get a prompt response, but patience is paramount in helping businesses survive.

Maintain transparency

Update your manager on a regular basis. Share with your coworkers any information that will be useful on the tasks at hand. Keeping information to yourself only creates information vacuum in your team and fuels uncertainty and fear.

It should feel safe to learn, contribute, and challenge the status quo without fear of facing punishment at the workplace. Transparency communicates good faith and genuine concern for your colleagues.

Stay optimistic and stay safe

One way to maintain confidence at work is to stay hopeful that the future will be better. You will continue to find meaning and purpose in work when kick fear and anxiety away. Optimism sn contagious.

Finding ways to stay psyched up even during the constraints of quarantine and social distancing could spark in you new ideas for implementation at your place of work.

This is the time to bring on board out-of-the-box ideas to improve your client service, advertising, production and ways you can still make your work impactful. Practice social distancing, sanitize and consider all precautionary measures to keep you safe.

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