Work in the time of coronavirus
It’s been more than a month since I worked from the office. Hopefully, the situation with coronavirus will get better soon and we’ll slowly return to our everyday habits. I’d like to share my experience with remote work from the last few weeks.
While freelancers will probably laugh at “big insights” I gained during quarantine, this has been a pretty big change for someone who is used to working in the office. And I didn’t see that coming. Being an only child, mostly introverted and not outdoorsy type I expected that the time spent working from home would feel much more natural. But I suppose that there is a great difference whether we are in the home by our own choice, or we are there because of some circumstances that we aren’t able to control. In situations like these sanity checks are needed for me as much as they are for my code, so here are a few challenges I stumbled upon, mostly work-related:
One of the most important things is to keep some kind of routine. It doesn’t have to be strict, it might be different than your office routine, but it’s important that once you make a plan – you stick with it. In my experience, it helps if you think about your office, make an effort to recognize things that make the working atmosphere, and then try to recreate a similar setting at home. For example, it’s helpful to find a place in a home that will be your working space, no matter how tempting coding from a lying position may seem.
Besides working space, working hours are also something you should pay attention to. When you are working from home, and you are on a bigger project (one that doesn’t need to be finished in one day) you can arrange your working hours as you like. But, sometimes freedom of choice can give you headaches instead of making your life easier. It could be tempting to spread your working hours across the whole day, but you could end up neither fresh nor satisfied with the work you did. In my experience, it’s better to make plans in advance and determine what time you will spend working and use the rest of the day for other activities.
Even if you organize your time and surroundings well, isolation might get you, and focusing on daily tasks becomes a challenge. You can try shaking up your house routine with things that don’t seem important. Get out of your pajamas or sweatpants, put on some nice clothes (perhaps even some cologne) and get to work. Maybe it’s just the thing you needed to get your focus back.
Keep yourself isolated while in isolation. This advice applies to the news. While it’s perfectly natural to want to know more about the virus, whether it’s about statistics or the ways you can keep yourself and others safe, there is a line you shouldn’t cross. You should check the news once or twice a day and see if there is any new advice from the medical workers, but you shouldn’t refresh the web page with statistics every couple of minutes or read every advice you find on the Internet (there are some crazy ones, trust me).
The last, but possibly most important tip is to keep in touch with your colleagues. In Presta, besides regular business-related communication, we have weekly video calls. We use that time to catch up, chat, or see reactions to some appearance change that we probably wouldn’t try in the normal circumstances (my friend Nikola and I tried a mustache style). It’s not important if there isn’t some groundbreaking news in your lives, you will enjoy each other’s company nevertheless as these video calls can recreate the spirit of cheerful office breaks.
All of these experiences, of course, are highly individual, and you may be the type of person whose productivity peaks while you lie in bed, in your pajamas, without a clear work schedule. That’s perfectly fine, we all have our ways of dealing with the current situation. The only important thing is to try to find some silver lining (for me it’s two hours gained from the lack of need for public transportation). Best regards and stay safe.