Staying focused during the pandemic

March 26 2020
Chairman, Kylin Prime Worldwide

Working from home is not usual and certainly not natural for most of us and can be a daunting idea during this unusually stressful time. It is disruptive, messy and can feel like you are expected to be in two places at once for those working parents trying to teach and work! Before you even start thinking about work - take the pressure off – No one expects you to be as efficient as you would normally be in your fully-stocked, distraction free office - cut your to-do list a bit shorter to account for this and really focus on those few important tasks that NEED to be completed. Below we have included a few top tips from one of our IFPC2020 delegates Martin O’Connor, Chairman, Kylin Prime Worldwide sharing his experiences of working from home in Hong Kong during the SARs outbreak.

1. The most important of all matters is communications and not just business.
On the business level set expectations with your manager and key colleagues....for example ask your manager if you could have a 5 minute introduction at the beginning of the day or a wrap up at the end of the day. Most are more than happy to do this. If a manager has large team and time is just impossible to deal with this, 'slots' can be segregated over the week. Take a practical but meaningful and effective approach.
Remaining visible is also key as "out of sight is out of mind". As much as is possible use video communication, even for a quick catch up. When we are isolated from colleagues we usually see on a day to day basis this type of richer, higher context medium ( which best replicates normality ) helps to clarify, reduce complexity, speed things up...……...and of the upmost importance make us feel good and less isolated.
We are all social animals - some more than others but most of us need social interaction to be nurtured. We are energised by being around people.
Set up some social interaction. For example, when I was isolated in Hong Kong due to SARS, I set up a virtual coffee chat with my team via Skype on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for half an hour to have a coffee and just chat on social stuff ( although work often crept in of course.) It was only an hour and a half a week - we spend way more than that reading emails that are not pertinent to us but have been sent to us anyway - but its benefits were huge. Time v benefit was a massive positive return. People felt connected and looked forward to the interaction. I also set up a remote buddy system where every person chose and agreed mutually to have one person they could call to sound off to, have an ear to listen etc.

2. Many of us do not have much spare space at home, and certainly not a separate room in which to set up a home office.
But pick a certain area for your working area. If it cannot be an area separated by a physical door or wall, choose somewhere as much as possible away from distraction. It may just mean moving a table to a certain area for example close to power source. Set boundaries with family and children as much as you can. If you also have children off school and some home teaching is needed this can be very difficult. In this instance I recommend you have a conversation with your line manager and agree expectations ( as mentioned above ) but also adjustments due to very rare circumstances.

3. Try to develop a set schedule as much as possible.
It’s difficult but even a skeleton schedule will be helpful. For example, if you normally call X at around 9.30 am for update, do the same from home. If you normally go for a coffee or tea around 11am, do the same. Schedule breaks.

4. Dress in comfortable clothing.
BUT clothing that you would be happy to be seen in at the office. Strange as it may sound, wearing shorts and a T shirt for example, would likely inhibit performance and productivity. But you will find your own level on this and what is best for you.

5. Please remember that everyone works differently and when someone suddenly has to work from home and physical contact is lost these difference can seem more extreme.
Be understanding of your colleagues and this is particularly important for those with line management responsibilities; set and agree expectations, add in some more flexibility if it is needed and give employees as much information as possible and DO NOT assume they know or understand something that you know or understand. Compassion is key when we are all trying to adjust to this “new normal” that feels like something out of a movie. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be good enough for now.

Chairman | Kylin Prime Worldwide

Working from home, Corona Virus, stress, business