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Is remote working the new normal?

Like many of you during these Covid-19/new normal times your working life has changed quite significantly.  Whether, like me, you were made redundant and had to look at other career options or your company closed its offices due to the numerous lock downs and/or other health reasons, the pandemic has certainly changed where we now work.  Remote working is the new normal or at least having that flexibility to work where you are most productive.  Given what is now happening across the globe with rising Covid-19 cases and more countries going back in to lock down, remote working, juggling home-schooling and your own well being all compete for your attention.  It took me a while to realise I could combine remote working and my own wellbeing together. I can’t help much with the home-schooling aspects other than to say you should get fast and reliable internet connectivity wherever you have chosen to work. Multiple Zoom/Team calls across the family certainly chews up that bandwidth.

“Wherever you have chosen to work, fast and reliable internet connectivity is critical” #Homeschooling #remoteworking Share on X

From the office space to remote working

Having been made redundant in April 2020 due to working in the travel and tourism industry I found myself looking for a new job. Having been a contractor in the past I quickly realised that was my best chance at getting back to work given few organisations in New Zealand were hiring permanent CIOs at the time.  I found a great contract role leading a company’s digital transformation – this meant remote working for most of the week because their offices are located two hours’ drive away in Te Awamutu.  In going from being in an office environment full time to having to set up a home working space to suit a new working style for the remainder of 2020, I have 3 recommendations that I think can help ensure that productive remote working and positive wellbeing can both be achieved.

Get up out of your seat

We could spend the whole working day in front of our screens which is not great for our eyes, posture, or health in general.  Make sure you take time out of day to get up out of that seat or, better still, incorporate getting out of your seat with productive work e.g. take phones calls on the move using a Bluetooth headset and pen and paper to write notes.  Wander around the garden or through your house/flat if it’s raining – the key is to get out of your seat.  It is also important to schedule some away from desk time (and remote working location) in your calendar so no one can book it out e.g. go for a run, take a walk, go to the gym. Remember that it’s wise to look after your own wellbeing during these stressful times where work and life spaces are so close in proximity – creating some separation is critical.  When the day is done, do not return to the remote working “office” – you wouldn’t under normal circumstances.

“When the day is done, don’t return to the remote working “office” – you wouldn’t under normal circumstances” #remoteworking Share on X

Get a second screen

Staring at your laptop with its 13- or 15-inch screen is not great for your eyes, I also found that with the constant staring at a small screen I would get headaches and sore eyes.  That’s when I realised I really needed a second screen. I purchased a 27-inch LG monitor with flicker safe (where users eyes are protected from fatigue by reducing flickering to almost zero).  As well as being better for my eyes it also helped with my productivity because I was able to open up more documents, spreadsheets, browsers etc.

A supportive work chair is a must

Remote working, as we have now come to realise, is far from a temporary arrangement, so a kitchen chair or bench seat that was sufficient at the beginning, is no longer suitable for sustained periods.  As we are now spending most of our days at a home desk staring at our laptops and second screen it really is important you have a comfortable and supportive chair which will help with posture, so nasty back or neck pains are less likely to occur. 

”Remote working as we have now come to realise is far from a temporary arrangement thanks to Covid-19” #remoteworking #covid-19 Share on X

Create those good life/work habits

I am sure there are a lot more ways you can improve your remote working style and environment, but these really have helped me the most with transitioning from an office environment to remote working and will certainly make it harder to return to an office space full time.  To ensure a sustainable and healthy life/work balance it is worth spending the time in finding and creating habits that support a balance that works for you and your overall wellbeing.

All said and done, it really is up to your personal preferences and what works for you in helping you be as comfortable and productive as possible when undertaking remote working- one size does not fit all.  Sharing your remote working tips below may help others – while it is crucial to look after yourself and your own wellbeing, it’s also important to support those around you who are facing the same challenges.  I have also found the real upside to remote working is that I get to parent more – the most important work of all where the old saying “you only get out what you put in” rings very true!!

Also please check out my article for 6 Job Hunting tips during Covid-19

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