Worried about working from home? Here’s my top tips on how to make WFH work for you.

Photo of Lie Yan Tang

Lie Yan Tang

Account Director

In recent months many of us have been thrown into an unfamiliar work situation. And with the Coronavirus still spreading, it looks like working remotely is here to stay. But with all the distraction of working from home how do we all benefit from it?


As a mum of a 2-year old, living in the countryside this is what I learnt about working from home: 

1. Compartmentalise
When you are at work, be at work. Clearly separate it from homelife. Throw yourself in. Tell other family members when you’ll be in those work hours, so they know to handle any disruptions. For me that means handling grandparents dropping in, and the child screaming at the door.  

It works the other way to. When you are shutting off, you need to shut off. Spending 5mins on your emails, 5mins checking skype is distracting you from spending quality time away from work so you can feel refreshed when you come back to it.

2. Have a dedicated workspace
I dream of having a home office set up like this one:

Home office

I looked at the photograph of Kaushal’s office and my mood improved immediately, and I can picture productivity going through the roof.  But a dream it will stay, especially in HK where most people are living on top of one another. An office set-up like this is almost the size of most people’s apartments in Hong Kong.1 In reality it looks like this:

Working from home in Hong Kong

Ok, so the ideal home office is probably not going to happen, at least for me. But you do need to set up a space — however small — that you can call yours. It needs to be free of clutter. You don’t want to be starting the day having to spend 30mins clearing the space before being able to boot up your laptop. Make sure your partner (like mine) doesn’t just drop their wallet and keys in your space. You are going to be there for a while so invest in that table and comfy office chair.

3. Stay connected
Working from home doesn’t mean being remote. Arranging weekly check-ins with your team gives you small goals to work towards. If you know you need to deliver something every week or even daily you are more likely to concentrate, than with rambling timelines. At our place here at Maximum, we've implemented team huddles on Monday to start the week and a huddle on Friday to wrap up what was achieved. It also puts you on the radar of your colleagues and managers, so out of sight isn’t out of mind.

4. Minimise the amount of tech you use
When you have internet broadband it opens a whole host of online tools that can help you stay connected. Skype, Whatsapp, Zoom, WeChat, Microsoft TEAMs…  However, choose wisely. You don’t want to be logging into all of these spaces to check messages, and to trawl through the chitchat to find the important action points.

5. Pick up the phone
There’s nothing more lovely than hearing another person’s voice. It can be isolating working from home and loneliness is a real problem for your mental health2,3,4. Don’t just rely on electronic messaging apps and put in time to do the video conferences (it does mean getting up and getting out of those pyjamas) and to talk to your colleagues.

Lastly.
We’ve all been there. Everyone has had a BBC dad moment. Moments like these are inevitable as the boundaries of home and work life are merging ever more closely together.5 Being disciplined when working from home is a skill we must learn. We’ll get there but it just takes time to adjust.

References

1. https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/economy/article/2142165/hong-kongs-small-flats-get-even-smaller-hitting-quality-life

2. https://buffer.com/state-of-remote-work-2019#

3. https://hbr.org/2018/11/helping-remote-workers-avoid-loneliness-and-burnout

4. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-it/201208/connect-thrive

5. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/wofe-work-life-merge_b_7054502

Photo of Lie Yan Tang

Lie Yan Tang

Account Director

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