Are you working from home or working at home?

Coronavirus has changed our lives. New ways of ‘working remotely’ or ‘virtual working’ have become the norm. In the past, remote working entailed a

Coronavirus has changed our lives. New ways of ‘working remotely’ or ‘virtual working’ have become the norm. In the past, remote working entailed a team of people working from the head office with the rest of the staff located in different parts of the world at subsidiary offices.

When COVID-19 happened, social and physical distancing strategies to prevent the spread of the virus required people to stay at home. To keep their jobs, many were asked to work from home depending on their roles. And hence the new way of working was born – working from home. But this came with several challenges:

  1. Disruptions from family members. From nowhere, a child or a pet would just appear beside you in the camera as you make that life-changing pitch or training. Many people have mastered sign languages, you will see them signaling and turning the lips, trying to ask the visitor to move away.
  2. Poor internet connection. You will hear statements like, “I cannot hear you.”, “Unmute.” “Are you still there?”. “The network is poor.” “You are still on the camera.” “Put off your camera!” These are some of new terms that have come up.
  3. Some people take home working like leave. They will not receive calls or return them in time. This makes collaboration very difficult.
  4. Lack of working routine. With schools closed, many people do not have the motivation to get up early. They have changed their wake-up routine to 9 am! Yes, 9:00 am. That means they start real serious work at 10 am. And they expect a salary! And many more unbecoming developments. For this reason, many employers now encourage staff to follow basic SOPs and work from the office due to a lack of personal discipline.

If you are working from home, you collaborate with the rest of the team. You are part of a bigger team that you support to deliver the company ambition. However, working at home means that you do personal errands and are not employed by anyone. In that case, no need to be accountable to your supervisor or employer. Understanding the difference helps staff have the right attitude and outlook to win regardless of the location of their place of work. In working from home, timely communication is critical to succeeding with the team. You want people to know your priorities and what you are working on.

A daily email by a person in the finance department to his or her immediate supervisor may go like this: “Dear Boss/Manager: My priories for today are a) conclude the budget and submit to your office for review; b) Write the end of month report and c) submit tax returns. Please let me know if I have missed anything or you have an urgent task you would need my support. Kind regards.” And at the end of the day, do send an update of what you accomplished and the new tasks for the following day.

That way, you will succeed and win with any boss however difficult they may be.

To win, some employers have set minimum guidelines for home working. In part 2, find some tips and ideas you may consider adopting to make yourself productive.

Continued in Part 2.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, Mr. Strategy 2020. All rights reserved.

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