Home is the new workplace

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Home is the new workplace

Friday, 20 March 2020 | Team Viva

Home is the new workplace

With social distancing being the need of the hour following the outbreak of COVID-19, here are some CEO mantras to work productively. By Team Viva

It was in 1973 when Jack Nilles, a NASA engineer, coined the term “telecommuting”, which implies using electronics to work remotely. Who knew it would become a necessity or a medium of precaution today? In a time of Coronavirus or COVID-19, home has become the new workplace. Employees, managers and other office staff in metro cities — especially Delhi-NCR — are being asked to work from home to avoid movement and in turn, the spread of the deadly disease. However, making such a protocol work properly could be challenging. Here are a few mantras by different CEOs to do so efficiently.

Roma Priya, founder of Burgeon Law, believes that getting organised, being mindful of creating boundaries between work and personal life are the key to working from home efficiently. She says, “One needs to identify when to work and where to work without getting pulled into domestic chores or personal matters. Start your day early and stick to your regular working schedules every day. Laying out clear guidelines for employees will help employees meet deadlines and check the maximum items of his/her task list. Another important factor is to plan the breaks accordingly and not take leeway or stretch these breaks. One can also utilise the time spent on ordinary days commuting to and fro from work in favour of family time or self-care.”

This is the best option for organisations to ensure that only a few employees have travelled or are in contact with those who have recent travel histories, says Neha Bagaria, founder and CEO, Jobsforher. She adds, “Gather a cross-functional team together that includes business-line leaders, IT, HR, communications and facilities to plan for different scenarios and optimise execution to ensure that there is minimal impact on the business when everyone connects remotely. Ensure that employees have the required equipment at home.”

The absence of face-to-face communication could be frustrating and managing coordinations from different corners are taxing. It’s better to use sharing tools such as G-Suite (drive, sheets, docs, slides) to collaborate live on documents.

Narayan Mahadevan, founder of BridgeLabz, says, “The general notion about working from home is looked upon as less-productive as compared to regular workplace environment. However, if you give a defined start to the day and plan all the tasks as per a time-sheet, achieving targets will become easier. Taking short breaks while staying connected to your colleagues always helps in remote working culture. It’s important to set reasonable daily goals and not to multi-task to get the maximum output. Also, to map the progress, one should create and update a to-do list regularly.”

Well, the key driver of change in the way we work is technology, without which it wouldn’t have allowed us to complete tasks and attend meetings from anywhere in the world, points out Sandip Chhettri, chief operating officer, TradeIndia. He says, “We have developed proper reporting and tracking software to make sure our employees remain focussed on their work. We have also developed a Sales Force Automation App to monitor the activity of our SalesForce, which helps them to work remotely. Working from home not only benefits employees by eliminating their daily commutes but also increases productivity and leads to healthier lifestyles. It’s a win-win situation and employees have more flexibility.”

Shalini Sharma, CEO and founder of MUMYU, who has led two different ventures while working from home and taking care of kids from past eight years, says, “We are backed by a team of 450 WFH women employees and four mainline ones. A WFH  setup can be exceptionally successful, only if well executed. The key is communication, which includes transparency among the team, proper flow of information, aggressive approach to connectivity and a regular follow-up. The actual work hours at home can actually turn out to be better than office set-up because of the home environment and support system. We should remember to not let the habit-breaking barrier take over. It takes almost 40 days to get into the habit of working from home but it only takes five to seven days to start falling in routine of it. If you can bear this transition time, you will get through the rest of it.”

Aarti Gill, co-founder of Oziva, says, “Work from home is usually not a very popular choice and implementing it could be challenging for many. However, while we are at it, given the need of the hour, implementing and following a couple of work etiquette remotely can help in efficient working. Most important and effective way to focus on work and be productive at home is treat it like your everyday routine and freshen up and dress and sit for work. You can also declutter and organise your space and turn it into a workstation. Be in touch with your colleagues online.”

Bharath Sastry, CEO of Vistaprint who worked from home for 1.5 years at the beginning of her career when she set up her own startup. She learnt along the way. She says, “It is is essential to be prepared with adequate equipment. Have proper infrastructure for yourself and team, namely laptops, wifi, video/ audio, a suitable chair and table at home.”

Moreover, creating an office-like set up is important. She says, “Work during the day exactly as you would do otherwise at office. Start off at the same time, go through your meetings and actions and end the day as you would do at the office.” And last but not the least is the element of trust when working remotely. “Believe that your team is also working), and trust me they will be,” she adds.

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