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Working from home is here to stay

What are the skills we really need?
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Love it or hate it, remote working is with us for the long haul. Almost half the Australian workforce were sent home in March 2020 – and many of us won’t be returning to the office on the same terms. The ‘who’s who’ of big brands have already rewritten their work from home policies: Google is allowing it until September; half of Facebook’s employees will be doing it within the next five to 10 years; and Twitter has told staff they can stay home indefinitely. Employers elsewhere are now more open to flexible work arrangements than they might have been pre-pandemic.

High-performance coaches are knee-deep in this conversation with clients around the globe as we all get targeted about how to create, connect and readjust to what's the 'new normal for 2021' (and beyond). The home office is here to stay – so if you’re wanting to be known as someone who's thriving while working remotely, here are six strategies that'll support you:

1. Set boundariesThis TED Talk (04:10) suggests creating rituals and routines to mark the transition between home and work. With the morning commute no longer preparing you for the day ahead, try listening to music or taking a walk before sitting down at your desk. Likewise, use your home office to enforce boundaries. Even if your desk is in the kitchen, try to make it feel like a workplace so you’re not blurring the lines between professional and personal spaces.

2. Create a scheduleStudies have found that remote workers tend to put in extra hours, probably because they struggle to switch off in their hybrid home office. Have definite start and end times, and consider setting an alarm for breaks to avoid that ‘always-on’ feeling that can lead to burnout.

3. Maximise productivity – Finding your groove at home can be a challenge. Are the kids bleating for snacks? Does the dog need a walk? Or are you glued to your desk to avoid such distractions? It’s all about finding balance. Studies show we work most effectively in short bursts. The Pomodoro Technique, for example, has you working for 25 minutes, taking a five-minute break, and then starting the cycle again, with a longer break every two hours. Apps like Focus Keeper and Time Out can also help to keep you on track. Experiment with different strategies to find one that suits you best.

4. Put a cap on screen time – Over the past year, many of us have felt the effects of Zoom fatigue. The solution? Schedule fewer digital calls (obviously) and make sure every meeting has a purpose. Follow the lead of companies like Facebook and Asana that have a ‘no meeting day’ every week, or block out a period each day when meetings are banned. Also consider checking your emails less frequently. Three times a day seems to be the sweet spot – not only does it reduce stress, but it also frees up your time to focus on more important work.

5. Focus on the task at hand – You might list ‘ability to multitask’ on your CV, but that’s not always a good thing. Research reveals that multitasking makes us less efficient, as it takes time to shift mental gears every time we move between projects. So, instead of simultaneously answering emails, writing a report and putting on a load of laundry, choose one job and give it your undivided attention.

6. Communicate clearly – So much of what we say comes from non-verbal cues: our tone, facial expressions, body language ... When we’re relying on messages, emails and phone calls rather than in-person interactions, we risk losing alot of what’s being said. Hone your spoken and written skills to ensure you’re conveying your intended message.

–The Coach Place Global

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