- Understand the impact of distance on oneself
- Know the levers for a better quality of life when teleworking
The massive increase in teleworking brings to light more or less appreciable individual and collective consequences, especially in the context of the health crisis where this change has been sudden, often with little support.
If it is popular with some, telework also generates difficulties depending on one's personality, gender, the nature of one's work or even one's place of living.
In the Covid context of the year 2020, teleworking has for many meant working from home, and given the urgency, in a space that is not always made for it: a corner table that has to be returned to its usual use for meal times, the bedroom, a poorly heated skylight, a place shared with one's spouse, each one conducting his or her own meetings without appropriate headphones, or being isolated, with no other choice than a very small place with a chair of average quality, with tools not made for it or an unreliable internet connection.
However, many companies and employees wish to perpetuate telework (with the corollary of remote or hybrid management), taking into account what has been learned, whether for personal benefits (presence at home, less travel and less fatigue, choice of place to live, less geographical constraints in case of double career, nomadic work especially for the young generation, optimisation of housing costs, fewer constraints to emigration, better balance of family life especially for women), organisational (less m2 of office space, globalisation and diversity of recruited profiles, satisfaction, commitment and retention or even gain in productivity, less risk of contamination in the context of a pandemic) or social (less pollution).
But in fact, what have we learned? Experimenting with telework has allowed us to realize what works and what doesn't work so well and to identify the issues that need to be addressed:
- space and working time
- the mastery and appropriation of tools
- management of pressure and work/life balance
The intention of this sheet is to share good practices on these 3 themes in order to perpetuate telework in good conditions.
PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE
1. Managing your space and time
Arranging your workspace to the best of your living space's possibilities is one of the first good practices and for that, Marie Kondo, one of the reference influencers in terms of tidying up her professional as well as personal space, recommends to:
- Distinguish your work space from your living space and move from one to the other with rituals (close the door, meditate for 5 minutes, put away and take out your work tools every morning and evening, end each day on a positive note)
- Discuss and negotiate with your entourage the objectives of each (spouse, children...) and how to best meet them by balancing personal time and professional activity time
- Visualise your ideal workspace (the bare minimum, significant objects, photos...it's up to each person and the possibilities of the place)
- De-clutter your workspace according to this ideal vision and by arranging files by category (the important, the urgent...). What is not useful for the moment is to be put away in a box.
Work time :
The first analyses tend to show that the working days are getting longer, that meetings are becoming so frequent that there is no time to get up for a glass of water or even lunch.
If, exceptionally, some days can be like this, it is important over time to balance the management of one's work time and to look after one's physiological health, which
This includes time to relax the body, the eyes and the brain (concentrating and paying attention consumes a lot of energy)
Beyond the known methods of time management, the pomodoro method invented by Francesco Cirillo is well adapted to telework, especially when it is necessary to remain concentrated and intellectually agile on complex activities.
It works as follows: after setting and prioritising your goals for the day and listing the activities related to them, choose an activity, set your timer for 25 minutes (1 sequence of 25 minutes is called a pomodoro), concentrate and move forward. Then take a 5 min break, and continue. Repeat this 3 to 4 times, then take a 15 to 20 minute break and so on until the end of your day.
It's up to you to vary the activity and break times according to what suits you best. (nb: rather than using a timer, you can download a pomodoro application on your smartphone).
2. The tools and their uses
Working at home requires having the right tools and knowing how to use them. As you will be spending more time sitting, with your eyes often riveted to your screen, it is important to :
- Have an ergonomic chair or, if not, vary the work postures (sitting on a chair, standing with a high table, sitting on a ball, walking);
- Have a collaborative device (computer, tablet...), a protective screen and a headset with microphone;
- Have the company's collaborative tools and a good internet connection; - And know which tool to use for what.
- Do not fall into the trap of hyper-connection nor into the all-out meeting it is; - Make adjustments to avoid untimely interruptions (delete notifications, signal that you are not available);
- Set aside time for personal work with all tools turned off.
3. Management of pressure
At a distance, external pressure (organisational, for example workload or objectives that seem unattainable; related to others, for example risk of feeling excluded or not recognised or seen, micromanagement, judgment, criticism) is likely to increase and generate internal pressure (stress).
The reactions to stress are physical (migraines, tension, weight problems...), psychological (depressed mood, anxiety, irritability, frustration...) and behavioural (aggressiveness, addiction, eating disorders, mood swings...).
If general stress management methods can help you spot the first signs in order to find your own answers, at a distance, it is a matter of putting new habits in place even more than if you were to go to the office. Indeed, if you have to take care of your physical health (move, rest your eyes) and your psychological health (manage your relational needs, your relationship to recognition, to distance), the ways to manage stress are reduced when you work at home (relax, talk about it with your colleagues and your manager, let off steam, clarify).
Thus the breaks foreseen in the pomodoro method can be dedicated to take a few steps and simple movements to relax, rest your eyes, breathe deeply or practice the 5 Tibetan exercises. Informal moments of exchange with your colleagues or your network allow you to share your concerns, questions and difficulties. Formal conversations with your manager or colleagues are an opportunity to discuss your needs, workload, difficulties and to find ways to improve the situation together.
Being aware of your feelings and emotions are usually good insights for action.
All these practices will allow you to improve your productivity and your quality of life while teleworking. If you have the choice, it is still preferable to combine telecommuting and face-to-face work because we all need to interact with others and some activities (problem solving, strategy development, etc.) are best done face-to-face.