Sanjeev Kotnala: 7 Tips to make a success of Work From Home during the 21-day Lockdown

26 Mar,2020

By Sanjeev Kotnala

 

On 24th March 2020, the government, in the fight against Coronavirus, took another hard step of imposing complete LOCKDOWN for the next 21 days. Thus in effect extended your WFH ( Work from Home ) period. This lockdown is long and can be further extended, so it calls for another re-look at what all you can do to ensure a smoother curve when we all back to the new normal.

I do hope you have read my earlier article on productivity during WFH and implemented a few of the suggestion. The Lockdown Watchlist on Alt-Balaji and Netflix will be of help in filling the gaps.

I believe it is an excellent time to catch up on some reading. You may want to refer to my 2018 list of books that I will never UnCage  or 10 recommended books. You can also refer to my recommended reading lists 2017. There is also the list of books to read from 2016 and 2015, but maybe these lists are outdated.

By now you have a first-hand experience of WFH first-hand experience. You have found your space at home and realised which part of the day best works for you. Life is changing. The new 21-day lockout has raised many questions about the new normal that will hit us after the Corona crisis is over.

 

WFH – NO LONGER  EXCITING.

WFH now may have outlived initial excitement. The advantages and disadvantages would be reasonably clear.

The 24 hours of in-home experience is contributing to the different type of itch and stress that has started building up. You are missing the constant aligning and syncing of project development and thoughts with the stakeholders, teammates and colleagues.

You are working in isolation physically and most of the time, even mentally. You have ventured into a space that has no sensors. It is an alien space for you. It is not comfortable. It is tough for when no one is nudging, guiding, discussing every step. The need to rescheduling work priorities time and again is breaking your new-found work rhythm. You have started noticing how much time does it really takes to complete a given task!

Time to remind yourself of two simple things:

WFH is just a change of location and not job responsibility. Your organisation’s expectation may be recalibrated, but they are unchanged. You as a person have not changed, and the team or organisational dynamics has not changed.

Professional success is not merely a function of your performance, skill and talent set. How you are branded in the organisation is what majorly impacts your growth. This is the time to realign your Brand-i.

 

WFH Demands A Change In Approach. 

There are newly acquired pressures. You have been on calls, on chats and on groups and quite a lot on WhatsApp. You kept answering e-mails, and the pile of e-mails never seem to end. You now miss the instant praise, reprimands, feedbacks, approvals, colleague appreciation and the infectious smiles along with high-fives and much more. So, you have to refresh your approach and attitude towards work. Here are few tips to help.

 

WFH Tip 1- Suffocate E-mails during Lockdown

Here is a trick, it worked for me. Some of my friends adopted them, and they swear by how effective these are. it

The first part is easy, open your e-mail box only thrice during the day.

Once around an hour after your WFH schedule kicks in. Once post-lunch- when you are anyway more lethargic. And the third time around- an hour before your time to call it a day. Act and respond. Clean your inbox and then close the e-mail inbox.

If you start playing e-mail ping-pong, you will be the loser. The best way is to call and discuss if it involves up to 3 people and kill possible e-mails. Be sure while addressing e-mails.

You should use ‘TO’ to address the person who is expected to take action. ‘CC’ for the person who should technically be aware of the situation and ‘BC’ to the person who should be kept in the loop for CYAUYH. TO and CC never see the BC address and hence are unaware of the third party. Understand and accordingly act when you are addressed in TO, CC or BC part of the e-mail. Avoid reply all.

 

WFH Tip 2- Restrict Social Media during Lockdown

The second part is tough but equally important. Close your social media when you are working from home. Access social media profile for 15 minutes just before accessing your e-mails and then forget about it. So what if WhatsApp is the second most trusted brand. You are unnecessarily getting too many forwards, fake news, alarming nudge and hardly much of value in social media. Fix a time and apply, three times, 15 minutes each time visit to social media during your office hours while you WFH. And restrict the  TV news to 2-3 bulletin of 15 minutes each across the day.

 

WFH Tip3- During Lockdown Invest in developing Network Over Phone

The third is simple and easily doable. However, it may not make any sense right now. Network over the phone. Call your colleagues, teammates and talk to them. Call your business associates, family members and friends. It does not matter if you have any specific relevant thing to talk or discuss. Just keeping conversations going, hearing each other voices and knowing of their well being helps.

Remember, there is a post-Covid-19 life, and your network during this period will lay the foundation for future success.

 

WFH Tip 4- Take Breaks In Between

Fourth and the last one is to take rest from time to time. Use that mobile phone. Build-in alarms for e-e-mail check as well as for resting. Take a break every hour. You are at home, but you are WFH. And now, life-work balance calls for a different strategy than taking the family out for a movie or dinner. Each one of us has to find our own keys to this balance. The only thing you must believe that the Key is there. Maybe this is the time to find it.

 

WFH Tip 5- Deploy CYAUYH Protocol during Lockdown.

Remember, the coronavirus threat is an extended one. Many things would be redefined by that time. Post-Covid-19 era is not going to be the same. Get ready for the new normal.

Work styles, evaluation parameters and expectation, will get tweaked. Workforces will get realigned. New processes will be forced upon and maybe here is where most will learn what is synchronised aligned coordination is all about.

Do not forget the CYAUYH protocol. For people who do not know it- it stands for ‘Cover Your Ass Using Your Head’. Document all the decisions and approvals. Be available for skype and facetime and any other way your team want to discuss things.

If you are merely an observer, don’t be Sanjay of Mahabharat, the unbiased narrator. Nobody needs a Sanjay, take sides and make your stance clear. Before doing so, think things through. Keep on contributing to the system.

 

WFH Tip 6- Its Lockdown Be Sensitive

If you are responsible for the brand image, then it may be worthwhile to see how you are engaging with your audience. Remember, the customers will recall and brands and services through the new filter of Covid-19 experiences. Don’t push and don’t get too aligned to any forces. At the same time, do not quaratine the brand. Engage audiences in the new scenario with relevant brand-centric communication. Do not create realignment that reeks of commercialisation- the customer can smell it from far.

 

WFH Tip 7- Use Lockdown to Develop Expertise

Think of the new normal post-Covid-19 era and the probortunities it will force brands and people to face. Identify which of these could you best address based on your strong past experience. Now, every day, in the next 22 days – get into the digital world, search for articles, opinion, case studies and read at least 4-5 of them a day. Treat Digital as Dronacharya, and you be the Eklavya. No there is no Guru Dakshina of right thumb at the end of it.

 

Two Simple Rules to Remember

WFH, is just a change of location and not job responsibility. Your organisation’s expectation may be recalibrated, but they are unchanged. You as a person have not changed, and the team or organisational dynamics has not changed.

Professional success is not merely a function of your performance, skill and talent set. How you are branded in the organisation is what majorly impacts your growth. This is the time to realign your Brand-i.

 

 

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