Working from Home; Challenge or Bliss?



I have always been a fan of the concept of working from home. For me personally, it is because I am able to focus better without the distractions of a busy office shared with several other people. Unfortunately, the option of working from home is not available in all organizations; yet, this current crisis has shown that many can indeed do their work, maybe even work better from home.



I might prefer working from home under any circumstances, but it is not an easy feat, especially in these challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many parents, they have to balance their work duties with, not only homeschooling their children, which is a fulltime job on its own, but also with keeping the entire household healthy, both physically and psychologically, at all times of the day, every day of the week, for weeks on end.

My main focus might be on the work part; yet, I believe that some, if not all, of the points I make here for being positive, productive, and connected while working from home also apply for the other aspects of doing everything from home—while we have to.



Bonus in Disguise

For many of us, especially here in Egypt and similar places where traffic and commuting are major issues, not having to spend hours every day in transportation is something we must all enjoy while we can. The time saved can be better spent doing so many other more fulfilling things; sleeping would be top on that list. I mean, we are usually sleep-deprived by the stresses of everyday modern life; an hour more of sleep everyday would certainly be a healthy choice to make if we can. I started with sleep because, if we want to stay healthy, productive, and sane, we need to be very diligent with our discipline, maintaining a well-structured day routine.



  1. Visualize

If we do not have a clear overall vision of everything that needs to be accomplished for family, home, and work, we will find ourselves in utter and complete chaos. We need to map all the responsibilities, break each into specific tasks, preferably with a timeline and reasonable deadlines. We need to start with a monthly plan that is then divided into a weekly plan, which eventually leads to a daily to-do list.

Remember to be realistic; do not get too ambitious, then end up feeling frustrated, which can easily happen in these already stressful circumstances. Make sure your plans include time for everything; not just chores and work, but also fun family and friends time, in person with those in the same house or virtually with those that are not. You will also need time for yourself; to rest, relax, or do something you enjoy doing on your own to clear your head and boost your morale.



  1. Set the Scene

As you have to fulfill different roles within the same space—your home—it would help you to set specific areas for specific roles. It would be helpful if these areas could be secluded; ideally, separate rooms with doors that can be closed during “office” or “class” hours. If not, which is the case for most people, you will have to discuss and agree with your family members on virtual boundaries, for both place and time, that need to be respected for everyone to get their work done. Needless to say, as you set up your office space, you need to find yourself a suitable chair; you will be spending hours in it and you need it to help you stay comfortable and focused.


  1. Set the Mood

Just as you need to maintain a routine for sleeping hours and healthy habits, such as meals and exercising, you need to get yourself in the mood for whatever you are doing. For you work time, you need to get dressed, not formally of course, but in something that is not too casual for work. Once dressed, get ready for work just as you would do when you are going to office. You need not simulate a half-hour ride, of course, but you can pick up a coffee, head to your “office”, and shut the door—albeit a virtual one.

Your family needs to know that you are at work; they are not to wander in or make noises around your “office”. It might be necessary/useful to use headsets to keep noise disruption to a minimum. It is also important, as when you are at your normal office, to keep your office tidy, to help you stay focused and clear-headed. You also need to take 5-10-minute breaks every hour or couple of hours; just do not use them to wander off into other territory!



  1. Stay the Course

There will be tough days for one reason or the other; you need to stop yourself from caving in and giving up. Remember, you are not on vacation; you need to maintain your discipline, because otherwise you will find yourself falling into a vortex of laziness, chaos, frustration, and depression. Likewise, the fact that you are working from home does not mean you forget to switch off—in all senses of the word—step out of your office into your home for family and/or personal time, and do not go back until it is office time again.


  1. Stay Connected

Being away from the office can really help you, not just focus better on the work away from office distractions, but also to clear your head from lots of noise and stress. This could help rekindle your passion for what you do and find new meanings in it; you might find yourself having more epiphanies about your work and its purpose. This, however, does not mean you do not need to stay connected to your colleagues, especially if you are part of a team.

Again, setting a routine is significant; teams need to agree on a schedule for regular video meetings, not just for follow ups and task-related issues, including brainstorming and similar work group activities, but also to connect and socialize with each other. It is important that teams maintain their team spirit, agree on their work goals, and plan together how to continue performing consistently albeit distantly.



My last piece of advice would be to take it easy and find the silver lining. These are tough times on everyone; there is a lot of uncertainty, anxiety, and pressure. We must all acknowledge the inevitability of having these feelings, but we must not let them consume us. We must search for meaning in what is happening and learn from it; we need to contemplate and seek knowledge that will help us move forward, as individuals, as communities, as nations, and as one world that is just that, one.

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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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