Remote working isn’t the end of traditional office space

Remote working isn’t the end of traditional office space
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Tips to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and social isolation from a seasoned remote worker

Nothing’s the same!

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic the world has been forced to stop in its tracks and take stock. Precautionary isolation and social distancing pleas from the World Health Organization has helped many governments flatten the curve of the pandemic in their region. But with schools closed across the globe, and companies and businesses obliged to shut shop, there has been a rise in work from home alternatives to mitigate the inevitable economic slowdown.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a welcome change for many.

Everyone doesn’t have an uninterrupted internet connection. Some don’t have personal computers. If you’re a family with school going kids and just the one PC, you can imagine how hard it is to manage working hours around their e-learning schedules. A large majority of the workforce don’t have tools that can help them time their work hours. Communication tools that can connect the employees on a project aren’t as well known to traditional workers as they are to freelancers.

So we find ourselves at home, trying to get our office and school work done in tiny spaces. The world seems to have shrunk to your apartment and it’s hard to stay in that small environment without going mad.

No fear! I have been working from home since 2013, and now work remotely for a Dubai based insurance comparison website which prepared for remote working long before the pandemic struck. My tips that will see you through the COVID-19 pandemic. Designed for both single, as well as full households; these tips can help you manage this strange new world we’re living in.

Maintain a Routine

This might seem like an obvious tip but, God is it hard to maintain. However, it is very important. Part of what makes self-isolation in COVID-19 so difficult is the break from routine. People who were used to getting up in the morning are sleeping in. Kids who have known structured school environments are jumping off the walls.

In such circumstances, it is imperative to keep to a routine. Or as close as possible to one. Try to get up at your regular time. Stick with work assignments for the duration of the workday. If your children are e-learning try to get them to stick to tasks during the assigned time.

Another reason it is imperative to stick to a routine is that with more time on our hands we tend to fill it up with work. We take more breaks, are easily distracted, and so our work assignments creep into our free time. Make sure you have a cut off time. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you will continue to work at all hours. Take a break. You’ll need it. We don’t want you burning out.

Stay Away From Coronavirus News

Have you got Google alerts on for any news on coronavirus? So have we. It’s hard not to keep track of the thing you’ve been put in quarantine for. But self-isolation in COVID-19 is already nerve-wracking without adding fear-mongering to it.

Yes, we agree that you won’t be able to completely avoid the news. That’s just not how modern-day information works. You’re exposed to more information than ever before and there’s no running away from it.

However, you can monitor what you read. Make sure your sources are authentic. Try to ignore random WhatsApp hoaxes. Don’t believe every conspiracy theory. In fact, this is a great time to hone your critical thinking skills.

Incidentally, you’ll feel more confident about the situation once you can read through the nonsense.

Take Time Away From Family

If you live in a full house it can be difficult taking some time away from them. In fact, if you have a household with kids it’s next to impossible. How many moms do we know who dream of going to the bathroom undisturbed? Family time in the coronavirus epidemic can be frustrating because it never ends.

We suggest a personal hour. It can be at any time of day. Find a quiet room and announce that you’re taking a ‘me’ hour. Get your spouse, or another adult in the house to take care of the kids. If the kids are old enough to be set in front of the TV, then use that miracle baby-sitter. It is essential to recharge your batteries. How can you be a good influence in quarantine if you’re not feeling positive? So take that hour to rest up.

Call Loved Ones

Not all of us are fortunate enough to be home at this time. Some of us work in other cities or countries. Some students are away from home, self-isolated in dorm rooms, or hostels. As terrifying as the coronavirus is it can be especially horrible when you’re alone.

So, call your loved ones. Catch up with friends, old and new. Keep a constant check on relatives who are also alone. Set up watch parties, engage in conference calls. That Family WhatsApp group sure looks nice now, doesn’t it?

But above all keep yourself surrounded by positivity. Avoid news you might find triggering, watch programs that are uplifting and hopeful, listen to joyful music. Do anything and everything that will make you feel more connected.

Mental Health Checks in Coronavirus

While we quarantine and self-isolate for coronavirus we should keep checks on our mental health. One of the best ways to do that is to keep track of your thoughts and moods in a diary. You can also do activities that help you maintain a healthy mental state.

With all the negativity going around, and the health crisis in general, you should also check up on those who you know will have a hard time coping. Make sure they are doing okay. Try to distract them and brighten their day. Let’s try not to contribute to the healthcare issues in the coronavirus pandemic.

Pick a Hobby

What helps you relieve stress? It could be anything under the sun. You could potter away in your garden. You can read the books you were unable to before. Maybe you find light exercise makes you feel better. It could even be just scrolling through embroidery videos on Instagram (a personal favorite).

Whatever helps you de-stress should be top priority right now. We know watching people kill it during self-isolation and quarantine can give you a serious inferiority complex. But don’t stress.
Try to do a little at a time. Remember, COVID-19 isolation isn’t about perfecting your guitar playing skills, it’s about keeping sane while the world copes with this crisis. So pick a hobby that makes you happy.

Take Care of Those Around You

One of the foolproof ways of relieving anxiety around coronavirus is actually doing something about it. There are steps you can take. Make sure those around you are safe. If you live in an apartment building keep in touch with neighbors who might be elderly, or more susceptible to the virus.

If you’re an employer make sure your employees are provided with enough funds to ride out the crisis. In the event that you can donate food, medical supplies, or money to those on the front lines then please reach out to the relevant authorities.

Doing something, even on a small scale, makes you feel less helpless. It can do wonders for your mental health. And it will mean the world to those you help out.

Be Lazy

Self-isolation and productivity aren’t always a good mix. Everyone is different. Some people need to be super productive to keep anxiety at bay. Others just want to sleep and binge eat Flaming Hot Cheetos to get by.

If you’re the latter then don’t be stressed into overworking. The crisis is not an opportunity to be productive at all costs. The quarantine can play major games with your mental health. So if watching Netflix and eating junk food helps you cope then go for it.

Don’t judge yourself. Allow room for what you consider lazy behaviour. In fact, taking the time to do something that makes you happy but isn’t productive is essential. So, take it easy. God knows nothing else in life is right now.

Let the Kids Be

Frustrated Parents Unite! Children are finding the coronavirus just as hard as you. They can’t go out. Their playtime is restricted to indoor activities. They have to keep quiet while you take your conference calls. And if that wasn’t enough they now have to wash their hands all the time for 20-seconds.

It’s not easy being a kid in the time of COVID-19.

Yes, we know close quarters with excitable children is difficult. As a matter of fact, you might even be considering quarantining yourself away from your kids. Or put them in self-isolation for the sanity of all.

But hey, they’re just being kids. If it’s hard for us to adjust, imagine how mind-boggling, and scary it is for them. Try to maintain a routine, but don’t be too hard on them or yourself. Excellent parenting can take a back seat. Let them watch TV. Allow ice cream for a snack. If they want to braid your hair while you Zoom with your colleagues, let them. Your colleagues will understand and it won’t make a dent in your professional reputation.

The aim should be to ride this storm out together.

Constant Reminder for Coronavirus

As the lockdown days turn into weeks, keep reminding yourself why you’re in self-isolation. It really helps put things in perspective. Coronavirus has hit our healthcare system with a sledgehammer. It has completely halted our way of life.

While in quarantine think of just how bad it could have been. If we didn’t have modern-day medicine or digital tools to go online it would have meant more deaths, more infected, and complete decimation of our global economy. In fact, if you look at it a certain way, we are lucky that even though we weren’t prepared for COVID-19, we still had tools to mitigate the situation before it got worse.

Also, remind yourself that staying in means fewer people infected. Your determination to stay indoors means you’re helping the healthcare workers currently fighting the pandemic. Just by self-isolating, you’re helping fight the crisis.

These reminders are powerful motivators. Use them.

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About the author

Pradeep Singh

Former CTO at LAFFAZ. A full-stack developer, possessing 6+ years of experience in working closely with tech startups in India and UAE.

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