What is WFH?
We've all heard of WTH and WTF but what is WFH?
Working from home ("WFH") has always been a hotly contested topic amongst employers and hiring managers including in our own company since there are so many issues to consider (which I won't bore you with here!).
In recent years in Hong Kong, some companies have already rolled out WFH for one day a week. WFH is usually an attractive proposition for some employees, since it meant that they didn't have to fight the rush hour commute or they could run errands during lunch time that were nearer to home. It was, until recently, more an exception rather than the norm.
In light of the recent Coronavirus flu scare across the World though, WFH policies have been implemented for anywhere between 1-3 weeks or more (at the time of writing, employers are still monitoring) has now become a norm for many companies in Hong Kong at this challenging time and it can take some getting used to for employees who are used to having a set routine of going to the office on auto-pilot mode!
Is Social Distancing a Challenge?
When checking in with friends recently, I realised that people who live alone or are sociable people generally are probably the ones who may find WFH for long periods of time a bit of a challenge because whilst they enjoy the quietude at home, they also enjoy and thrive from the socialisation at work. Social distancing can therefore be a bit of a challenge for some people.
On the other hand, some employees may find it difficult to focus at home. They may have young children, elderly or other family members who seek their constant attention when they are present or there may be too many other distractions that disturbs the work pattern. For those who live with others, you may not even be used to seeing them 24/7 especially when schools, extra-curricular activities, theme parks and Government facilities are all currently closed and everyone is at home at the same time! And you may even be getting in the way of your housemates' routines with your constant presence! In these circumstances, you may prefer to ask your employers if they can still go to the office rather than WFH!
There may also never be a genuine "start" or "finish" to the work day, no obvious divide between home/work and no break from your housemates!
For team or business leaders, you should definitely maintain the connection with your team and colleagues. None of us needs to be hermits even if the current circumstances may feel like it! Even long before this current situation, our company already has had in place a constant communication platform with our colleagues and we have arranged online face to face meetings and calls. We are also following usual weekly team meeting times virtually to follow our usual team routines.
Create a New or Adapted Routine
So what can creatures of habit do in longer term WFH situations that are new to them? We need to create an adjusted routine. This is easier said than done but this should indeed be an important focus when you plan your WFH day. Some of us may already be used to getting up and doing things around the house or exercising etc before going to work, but for others, your daily exercise may actually be your commute to work and you may therefore need to implement a new routine such as exercising at or near home before starting your WFH day. Indeed, developing a daily routine is one of the 8 keystone habits*.
Getting into a discipline and writing a daily (and weekly) to do list to include your "goals" for the day can also contribute to giving yourself a sense of achievement when you tick them off as being completed.
Whilst we do need to keep a track of the developments of the virus to monitor the health situation, we should not be fixated on constantly checking the social media news. Most of us have come to realise that a lot of the news is scaremongering with the aim of creating or heightening hysteria and fear. Some of what is written is simply repeat news written in a slightly different format and some unfortunately is simply mindless fake news!
This is where mindfulness will help us to focus (on work!) even when we are not physically in the office. Keep positive and don't be distracted by mass media news which just builds on the fear factor.
I recently shared a link to an online blog that I had seen with my team**. It lists out some 1-minute mindfulness exercises. The suggestion in the blog about savouring a raisin or a piece of a chocolate for one minute made me laugh but these mindfulness exercises take next to no time to do and can help you take your mind off things!
Take care, keep checking in on each other in the community and looking forward to meeting up with everyone soon!!
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