Category: Work from Home

Work from Home

Working from home is a nightmare for some Quebecers,…

When Véronique Piercey sits down to her remote job as senior paralegal at a Montreal hospitality firm, the first thing she does is put on ambient office noise from a mindfulness app to help her focus.

“I deeply, deeply miss going into the office,” said Piercey. “I love people and I love being around people,” even though she hasn’t yet met any of her team members in person.

When it comes to choosing which they prefer — working from home or heading into a workplace — Quebecers are divided. Some enjoy not having to commute, while others miss the impromptu water-cooler conversations at the office.

Either way, remote work will be here to stay in some form after the pandemic, says Ariane Ollier-Malaterre, a professor of organization and human resources at the Université du Québec à Montréal. She suggests two or three days a week of remote work is optimal for productivity.

But whether employees actually enjoy remote work is another story. Statistics on whether Canadians prefer working from home are inconclusive.

In mid-December, when the provincial government recommended that Quebecers return to working from home amid rising COVID-19 case counts, many wondered whether a full return to work would ever be possible.

Working from home isn’t for everyone

How you feel about remote work depends on a range of factors: whether you are new or a seasoned veteran, whether you are an employee or a manager — and what responsibilities you have at home.

Remote work tends to be especially difficult for new employees like Piercey.

It’s hard to develop a sense of belonging when you haven’t met your colleagues in person, says Charles-Étienne Lavoie, PhD candidate in work and organizational psychology at UQAM.

“They’re going to have a little bit of a harder time building an emotional commitment and sense of belonging with the organization,” Lavoie said.

Starting a new job remotely means that an employee can feel disconnected from the company and their co-workers, says Sabrina Pellerin, PhD candidate in human resource management at UQAM.

“It can be trickier for the employees to figure out how to work effectively,” Pellerin said.

Managers face their own set of challenges, coping with varying schedules and employees needs. (Getty Images/istockphoto)

Managers face challenges

Managers may feel pulled in a lot of different directions. They need to help employees adapt to remote work, provide them with the necessary resources, motivate them from a distance, and monitor their mental health — all the while preserving their own, said Pellerin.

“We think that managers, because they hold positions of authority, are in control all the time,” she said. “But they’re human. Organizations tend to forget that.”

Managers need the appropriate resources to do their own work to the best of their ability, said Lavoie. For example, they need training on how to manage a team with non-uniform work weeks.

Pellerin says that remote work can be beneficial if an organization trusts its workers to stay on task while at home.

But some employers have even gone so far as to implement tracking software to keep tabs on what staff are doing while on the clock. “I’m against that,” Pellerin said. “It signals that the employer doesn’t trust the employee.”

Overall, worries about shirking are unfounded, Lavoie said.

“People who do telework tend to work more hours,” he said. In fact, since employees who work from home tend to overcompensate, the bigger problem being overwork, rather than slacking off.

Working from home can be especially difficult for parents of young children. (Radio-Canada)

This has made some people question whether the nine-to-five structure is necessary at all, and whether a results-only work environment would be preferable.

Effective remote work requires a shift in culture, Lavoie said. Employees and managers need to be better attuned to each other’s needs, and acutely aware of any worrisome changes in the mood and behaviour of their colleagues.

Feeling safer at home

For some, the office won’t be more attractive than working from home until the risk of contracting COVID-19 is near zero.

Web producer Patrick Lavery went back to work at his software company, Autodesk, when it opened in a hybrid capacity in October. “It felt like I was getting back to normal,” he said. Then someone tested positive, and he started working remotely again.

“I certainly would not want to go back to the office unless it was assured that everyone had received their booster,” he said. “Before any of that, I want to see the hospitalizations and infection rate drop.”

Monica Dedich, a senior manager for content and communications, says it’s hard to juggle the demands of work and two small children. (Submitted by Monica Dedich)

For those with young children, the office provides a place free from distraction.

Monica Dedich, senior manager for content and communications for Lighthouse Labs, says that her work is constantly interrupted by her children, who are three- and five-years-old.

“It’s exhausting,” she said. “You’re switching gears every few minutes. It’s hard to stay on task.”

Remote work has exacerbated gender inequality, making women more likely to feel depressed, stressed, and burnt-out from juggling home and work responsibilities.

Though Dedich enjoys the flexibility offered by working from home, she thinks that remote work and school closures are not a good mix.

“Mentally it’s an incredible load to carry,” she says. “Long term, I don’t think it’s tenable.”

Dedich says no one is exempt from the difficulties of online work – even those who don’t have kids are struggling. “It’s hard. This is all really hard for all of us, and for different reasons.”

Work from Home

Corporate America is coming around to remote work. But…

The tension between the demand for flexibility and the costs of committing to it entirely is likely to grow. Fewer than 28 percent of those employed in the nation’s 10 biggest business districts, including Washington, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, were at the office the first week of January, according to data from Kastle Systems. And 55 percent of remote workers would consider quitting if their companies tried to force their return to offices, according to research this month from Morning Consult.

Work from Home

Will working from home change how we do our…

KEYSER – One of the casualties of the almost two-year-long COVID-19 pandemic has been the daily trip in to the office.

As the pandemic gathered steam in 2020, many workers were told to pack up their laptops, set up a work station at home, and do their job electronically.

As the pandemic waned a bit in 2021, some of those workers returned to the office, some have adopted a hybrid schedule, and some have opted to stay home.

We spoke with two local at-home workers about how they felt about working from home, and both agreed: They like the better balance between work and home life that comes with working from home.

On the downside, however, are connectivity issues and longer work days.

“I would have never thought that I’d adapt and like working remotely or in a hybrid arrangement as much as I have,” said Rene Trezise, who is the communications director for WVU Potomac State College.

Trezise started working remotely from home in March 2020, then switched to a hybrid work assignment in the spring of 2021 – working on site at the college a couple days a week and then from home the rest of the time.

She says she feels the fact that so many were doing the same thing at the same time helped everyone to adapt better.

“The fact that ‘the world’ was forced to work remotely is why I believe it worked so well. We were all in the same situation. We had no choice. We had to tweak and adjust until we were successful at being productive,” she said.

“I don’t believe to this day that working remotely or in a hybrid arrangement would be as accepted or as successful had it been piecemealed,” she added.

“Also, the fact that we have such tools as Zoom and Teams to meet virtually has made working remotely successful. The workforce has proven what can be done.”

Anna Campbell, on the other hand, had already been serving her clients from an at-home work station, and didn’t feel the change as much when the rest of the world followed suit.

“I am a director at an organization called TRC Companies, which provides energy utilities with critical services for integrating advanced technology into the power grid,” she explains.

“I’ve worked remotely from Keyser for many years now. The biggest impact that COVID has had on my daily work routines is having to help employees (and myself!) manage family balance. It used to be a given that we could drop our kids off for school in the morning and then pick them up at the end of the work day. Unfortunately, this structure went away.”

She says the change often produced interesting, and amusing, incidents.

“ In any given meeting, the microphone is going to be hijacked from at least one kiddo that is home due to virtual learning or COVID exposures,” she said.

“The pandemic has made me more empathetic about the lives that our employees bring to work with them.”

Trezise says she enjoys the work/home life balance.

“It has been a big help to throw a load of laundry into the washer or dryer or grab a roast from the freezer to thaw in between meetings or working on a project,” she says. “Saving on commute time has allowed for more work time too.”

Working at home has also lead sometimes to a longer day, however.

 “I have found myself working longer while working remotely because you walk a few steps from your kitchen into your home office and inevitably you check in and before you know it, an hour has passed dealing with work,” Trezise says.  

Campbell agrees: “The hardest part has been creating separation between work life and home life. Rather than working a more typical 9-5 schedule, there are days when I’m working from 6 a.m. – 8 p.m., with breaks throughout the day to feed kiddos.”

She also feels, however, the at-home work schedule has helped her take time to improve relationships with her fellow employees.

“An unforeseen benefit has been being forced to find creative ways to make lasting connections with coworkers who are spread throughout the country,” she says. “When the only way to interact is via the phone or computer, I find that we get to devote a bit more time really listening and getting to know each other on a more personal level.”

There has been one difficulty Trezise found, however, and that was the availability of space and internet.

“We’ve had three to four family members working from home all at the same time and we weren’t equipped for that many home offices,” she says. “Therefore, the dining room table has had to serve as a makeshift office, and we’ve experienced occasional bandwidth issues.”

Do they expect the sudden move to work-from-home to change how many do business even after COVID becomes less of an issue?

“I believe we’re going to see the workforce going more remote and hybrid, especially in the cities,” Trezise says. “These type of work assignments save the employees money in the form of clothes, transportation, time, and money from eating out. Employers can save money too on rental space.”

“I’ve seen an extreme uptick in professional positions for remote work – companies like Facebook or Google… I’m excited about what that could mean for helping to keep folks from Mineral County local,” says Campbell.

“For current businesses, I hope that the past couple of years has led employees and their managers to come up with creative solutions for working from home when life necessitates it. “

Liz Beavers is a veteran writer and managing editor of the Mineral Daily News Tribune. To reach out to her with a story idea, email lbeavers@newstribune.info.

Work from Home

Why You Need a Remote Work Schedule – Productivity…

Working from home is still a novel notion for most individuals, and finding a remote work schedule that works may be demanding.

Calendar – Calendar

After all, productivity isn’t innate, but being productive can be learned. Plus, it’s more of a set of behaviors you need to develop and maintain every day. As a remote worker, your expectations and reality may differ significantly.

With a few little adjustments, you can create an effective remote work plan that keeps you constantly throughout the day.

Remote Work Routine

Why is a remote work schedule important? Unfortunately, newbies to remote employment frequently fall into two traps:

Those who believe they can be more productive when not in the office. Then work so much that their job quality suffers. Or worse, they burn out. Those that believe they can’t work as efficiently from home end up scheduling less work, resulting in lower production. Remote workers must carefully plan their workdays to make the most of their time. Scheduling can benefit you in several ways:

Recognize your reasonable professional goals. Schedule them accordingly.

Make sure you have enough time for everything on your list.

Make room in your calendar for ‘unexpected work.’

Get adequate rest, family, friends, interests, and exercise.

Improve work-life balance by being aware of what that means, and make your work more environmentally friendly.

How to plan remote work

1. Schedule non-work hours

First, block out all non-work hours to know how much time you have each day to do your chores. Time tracking is essential when you are figuring it all out. Distinguishing between work and non-work hours can help you disconnect more readily at the end of the day. As a result of not having a lot of time’ to just lounge about or take extended breaks, you get more done in less time.

2. Schedule uninterrupted focus time

There are innumerable distractions when working from home: texts, emails from coworkers, housework, hungry dogs, family members, etc. Therefore, you need quiet attention time to develop a successful remote work plan. The goal is to schedule 50-60 minutes of uninterrupted focus time when you only focus on one subject at a time.

You may set a timer, put your phone on quiet, and dismiss all other tabs to avoid being distracted when working on anything essential.

3. Schedule meetings when you’re least productive

Remote employment allows for greater freedom. So you may plan your time according to your productivity. In this case, if you are a morning person who is most productive first thing in the morning, you may arrange meetings for nights when you can’t work on complex projects.

Similarly, if you are tired and exhausted soon after lunch, plan all your meetings for the afternoon. Nothing beats virtually meeting and catching up with coworkers.

4. Schedule breaks like essential meetings.

Breaks are as crucial as focused hours if you want to be productive all day. Working without breaks all day will lead to burnout and damage your job. On the other hand, taking breaks might be challenging while working on something essential or facing a deadline — sometimes you just have to keep going.

It’s also normal to forget to take a break. Schedule 15-30 minute breaks every day to remind yourself to take them. You don’t have to take all of the planned breaks, but you should attempt to take as many as possible. When you need a break, stretch or go outside for some fresh air.

5. Plan your day like an office

You may choose your own schedule when you work from home, but it doesn’t imply you should work nonstop all day to finish your list. Without adequate breaks, you’ll lose productivity and maybe burn out. So instead, plan and manage your day like an office. Take your morning routine, a great lunch break, and then frequent coffee lunch breaks when you start feeling sleepy around 5 p.m. so you can return to work rejuvenated.

6. Establish home rules

Working from home might be challenging when family members constantly interrupt or surround you. In addition, working parents with kids at home might face additional challenges. So that your productivity isn’t affected, you should discuss what they may and cannot do with your family during your work hours.

7. Self-care during work hours

Working from home may be pretty stressful. The absence of team connection and the mounting workload can soon lead to burnout. That’s why you should constantly prioritize self-care, especially during work hours. Slow down when everything seems to be coming at you at once.

Go outside or spend time with your family. The objective is to get away from the computer and relax. Avoid taking on more than you can manage. When making your to-do list first thing in the morning, it’s tempting to get carried away. So what?

You end up taking on more chores than you can reasonably do in a day, and you feel awful at the end of the day because you realize you can’t possibly finish them all. So instead, set more realistic goals and only take on as much work as you can handle.

9. Avoid the bedroom

When working from home, it’s tempting to work from bed or take an afternoon nap. On the other hand, it can educate your brain to link sleep with stress and work instead of rest. This can make sleeping difficult. Even if you live in a small apartment with no extra rooms, you should set up your workstation as far away from your bedroom as feasible.

If you must take a quick power nap, consider a separate room. For example, we have a power nap room at the office, so I arranged my home power nap room to be similar to the office.

10. Create a ritual

Disconnecting from work and leaving your laptop might be challenging when your personal and professional lives overlap. Create a work closing ritual to prepare your mind to withdraw from work. You can check your emails one final time, tell your coworkers you’re leaving, and plan your day’s tasks.

Remote work requires flexibility and the correct tools. It’s critical to plan your life around a productive remote work schedule. But becoming dogmatic and inflexible might lead to burnout. Remote work is all about flexibility, so be willing to change your schedule without losing productivity.

Keeping track of your schedule with the finest remote work tools might also help. It’s tempting to use all the internet productivity and calendar applications. However, using extra tools will make managing your job data more complicated.

The last thing you want to do is utilize so many apps that you wind up spending time going between them to locate data. So instead, use a centralized platform like a digital workspace that merges all your company apps and data into one uniform dashboard.

Image Credit: EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA; Pexels; Thank you! 

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