With the novel coronavirus currently sweeping the globe, many people are being forced to seek alternative solutions for their work. As governments tell offices and shops that they must close, the idea of remote work is quickly taking over every nation that’s been affected by the virus. If you’re a worker who hasn’t yet moved to remote work – or if you have been told you need to and aren’t sure exactly what you must do – then you’re probably wondering what remote work is and how it will affect you.
To put it simply, remote work is exactly what it sounds like: it’s working remotely. Whether you’re doing so from your own home or wherever you happen to be located during this quarantine, working remotely is the simple process of conducting your usual business but without physically being in your office environment. That, of course, is going to look different for everyone; nobody’s work situation is identical to anyone else’s, so working remotely won’t look the same for you as it does for your family or friends.
There are a number of things about your work that could be massively affected by your need to work remotely. The nature of your work, the amount you get done, and the amount you’re expected to do are all likely to be affected by not only the new situation you’re in, but also by the quarantine itself. This is an unprecedented situation, and to expect to continue your normal day-to-day operations while it’s ongoing is perhaps a little naive. Your life will definitely change, so expect remote working to be part of that.
Let’s start with the nature of your work. What you’re actually expected to do could change. If you would normally conduct your work in an office environment – and especially if being in that office environment is crucial to what you’re doing – then there’s no doubt you won’t be doing quite the same thing from home. You may well find that you’re doing something similar, but that it feels completely different because you’re at home. That’s totally normal.
One way that companies are tackling this is by handing out new credentials for office intranet, or by updating existing credentials so that you’re able to log in remotely. This means you can work in much the same way you normally would, but you’ll be doing so from home. In many ways, this is the ideal scenario; your normal routine won’t be disrupted too heavily, so it’ll simply feel like you’re taking a sabbatical from your office. Many workplaces will allow for this.
A less desirable situation would be that you’re unable to work as you normally might, so new protocols or software will need to be set up. There are many workplaces for which this will be the case. If your office intranet isn’t designed to allow outside access, for example, or if your management isn’t willing to give that access out, then you’ll probably need new software on which to work. Expect this to disrupt your workflow for a while until you get used to the new systems.
One of the biggest new changes you’ll need to get used to as a remote worker is how meetings are conducted. Since the coronavirus hit, meetings have largely moved online. While this won’t necessarily be too disruptive for you, it does mean you’ll have significantly reduced face-to-face contact with your colleagues, so you’ll need to get used to new protocols of speech and conversation. You’ll have to adjust your rhythms and timings in order to allow everyone a chance to speak.
Another way in which your life will change when you’re remote working is time management. You’ll need to be master of your own destiny to some extent. Of course, your manager or boss may dictate when your working hours are, in which case you’ll probably have a very similar schedule to the one you had before the crisis erupted. However, you should always try to keep similar working hours either way. The less your routine changes as a result of remote working, the better.
You’re likely to become more distracted when you’re working remotely, especially if your family is also facing the same challenges you are. Figuring out how to combat those distractions and work regardless is one of the biggest difficulties you will deal with when it comes to remote work. It can help to set aside a study area or designated office space, if you can. That way, you won’t feel the need to break from work too often and you’ll be able to get a decent rhythm going.
You should also keep an eye on your health during your remote work hours. The temptation is there to simply snack and binge since you’ll have access to your personal fridge at all times. Just like your regular working hours, your normal diet shouldn’t change too much during the quarantine (unless it’s already unhealthy, of course). Try to keep regular mealtimes and designate certain times of the day for snacks or drinks, just as you would in an office environment.
In summary, remote work is simply the act of working from home. There are a number of unique challenges that come with remote work, and not all of them are surmountable on your end. Some of those challenges will require your manager or boss to help you or deal with the problem themselves. If you dedicate yourself to solving new problems, try to keep your technology up-to-date and working, and stay in constant contact with your colleagues, your remote working journey doesn’t need to be hard.