On this corona emergency time, it is good to see that many companies are asking the employees to do work from home.
Not all jobs are suitable for working from home. Only IT related development, support, design people can do these. Some non IT, content development, multimedia teams also can do.
For many of the indian companies, work from home is very new. For employees, managers, and clients.
Work from home is both bliss and curse.
It needs more work, more dedication to do work from home.
I had got opportunities to do enough work from home options in my current and previous companies. Here are few points to note for newbies.
It needs military discipline to have a successful work from home. We are so used to be lazy, sleepy, slow in home. We are surrounded with family, kids, neighbours, friends, TV, and more. Most of us don’t have separate room to work. It needs very high energy to work for longer hours in this clumpsy place.
Wherever you are, once you open your computer for the job, you should immerse into it, till completing the task or the hours required.
In office, we have decent desks, chairs, monitors. But in home, we try to work from bed, sofa, on cushion. These are bad for long runs. If you are going to work from often, invest on good table, chair, monitor, wireless keyboard, mouse. They will save your health, time and hospital charges.
You need to be very strict on working hours. In office, we have a in time and out time. But in home, we may be in front of computer, all the hours we are awake. So keep a very strict turn on time and turn off time for computer. Keep it around 8 hours so that you can have good life outside.
Avoid distractions. Say NO
If you are at home, kids will ask to play. Mom will ask you to go for a grocery shop, wife will ask for a mini outing. Neighbours will ask for assistance for any task. Learn to say NO to all. Tell your non available, working hours to them and postpone the tasks or delegate to others.
If you don’t know saying NO, you will be end the day with doing non office tasks and doing the office tasks all night. This will lead to bad performance.
Keep your team updated
Your team may be at office or globally spread. Keep them updated on what you are doing. Email, mailing list, chat, issue tracker, video conference, phone. What ever the tool you are asked to use, use them and update your activities regularly. This will help the team to grow faith on you. If you leave them blank on your progress, don’t expect any more support from management. Don’t let them to ask what you are doing.
Contact team regularly
Have team meetings, status calls, sprint calls, daily calls. Attend them compulsory. If you can’t attend, let the team know it. Make them know on your leaves. If you are away from keyboard for a short break, update in your team chat channel. Have quick calls and screensharing to clear doubts, to take any decisions.
Keep a log of daily tasks
Regardless of the usage of issue tracker, log your daily activities as notes or dairy and share with your team and management.
Timezone, day light saving calculations
If your team is across globe, have correct calculations of time with AM,PM, GMT, other time zones, day light savings etc.
Use a shared or private calendar to mark down the events, meetings and set prior alarms, notifications. In office, a peer will take us to a meeting. In home, we have to cautious on meeting times.
Keep mute in meetings
If you are in any online meeting, put yourself on mute on all the times, except when you speak. This will avoid huge noise and save alls time.
Have better hardware, internet
Have a better internet. Don’t rely on your smartphone internet. It will fail on important times. Apply for broadband. Get decent enough computer, mic, headphone, speakers. Investing on these will give tons of peace of mind for all.
If you share your WiFi with smart tv and all smartphones, get high bandwidth. These devices will loot all the internet, leaving very low for your work. Monitor the usage and get more bandwidth from your ISP.
We will become couch potato, if we are always on front of computer. Have some strict workout times. Do walk, running, jogging, exercise, dance. This will help to work better and keep focussed.
Have strict 8 hours sleep. This will avoid many issues before they happen.
Find your peak time
Not all are born for 9-5 peak hours. You may a night owl. Find your best working time and keep the team updated on your best time. So that they can plan and set proper expectations on your outputs.
Do work on working hours
Avoid all social media and unwanted internet surfing on internet. Be focussed and do only the work on working hours.
Socialise in person
After the working hours, talk to real people around you. Talking to real people will keep your mental health safe.
Be a master in your domain
Know all the things in your job. Learn the basics well. Read the documentation. Write documents for your jobs. Keep learning and become a master. With high skills, you can finish the jobs quickly and have better life outside. I have spent many nights debugging the code and found very silly mistakes. Each delay on the tasks will have after effects for sure.
Keep your desk, room cleaned
Our desks will be filled with papers, coffee cups, lunch plates, fruit wastes and more. Keep the table and room tidy. Remove all unwanted things ASAP.
Eat less. Drink more water
Being at home, kitchen and fridge open, we will be eating more. Be cautious on intake food. Eat less and drink more water.
Give enough time for family, hobbies
We work for better happy life of ours and family. Give them enough time and set them with proper expectations on your available time for them. Spent your time for family or office. Choose only one and spend better. Have a good hobby for your personal times.
Lock your screen
I had my kid, sent random strings on chat to team, shown funny face reactions on video chats, hit up arrow to choose a random command, which was ‘halt’ on a remote server, a sudden keyboard hit caused to run rm command. Fortunately not on production servers.
Lock your screen always.
Weather you are working or not, tell the truth to the management. The faith you build on yourself will only keep the working from home culture alive. Its okey to take leave and breaks on your work days. But inform the team and maintain the faith on you.
- Believe your employees
- Build good culture of belief
- Use better communication tools. Chat, mail, issue tracker, wiki, knowledge base etc.
- Don’t do micro management
- Setup daily status calls
- Reimbursement for expenses of hardware, internet, table, chair etc
- Allow work from home often or for always for required people
- Have weekly one-to-one calls with management and team members.
Remember that the entire GNU/Linux operating system and its millions of tools are developed by volunteers working at home all around the globe.
Learn from open source development culture, tools, workflow, structure and implement in your organization.
I have missed all these on my initial work from days and suffered a lot. Learnt these and practising these on all work from office/home days. Able to do good work life balance nowadays.
Thanks for Collabnet, Netcalyx and TVFPlay team for providing me great opportunities to learn these and believing on me.