Five Things I Learned During Work from Home Country
When mandatory remote work is a blessing in disguise
Of all the things that went viral in the year 2020 (pun intended, of course), “Work from Home” seemed to prompt innumerable notions and opinions, and many hashtags of course. At R+K, like many agencies, working from home was fairly uncommon prior to COVID, but was immediately adopted in March 2020. The challenges and isolation of the quick transition to remote work caused anxiety and stress at first, but eventually became the new normal.
Of course, we all miss meeting our colleagues for coffee breaks, but the flexibility of working from your own space can bring new and exciting experiences. With time we all figured out a way to make remote work productive. In my case, I made it work from another country. From November 4 to December 7, I worked remotely from my home country of India. Here are five things I learned through the experience.
1. Ask anyway.
With the growing panic over the pandemic around the world, I yearned to visit my family back home in India. I was hesitant to broach it with my supervisor who, like everybody else, was dealing with the casualties of balancing work and home life in this new environment. But to my surprise, she reacted positively and even encouraged me to go ahead with the decision. Had I not asked, I would have missed out on a great opportunity.
2. Settle in and trust the process.
In any new scenario, don’t rush to perfect everything at once. I took time planning my trip and schedule and always kept my supervisor informed on my travel dates and time zones. When I arrived in India I took a week off to settle down, recuperate, and put on my designer hat to design my temporary workspace. Then I was ready to go! A new work environment can be daunting at first, but it always becomes familiar quicker than you think. Having a favorite plant, pen stand, or a family portrait from your old workspace can go a long way toward making you feel comfortable.
3. Smell the routine.
Following the same morning rituals and creating familiar smells can help get you mentally on track in a new environment. While I was in India, I didn’t do anything without my morning coffee, just like at home. Working between time zones, I even decided there is no right or wrong time for a coffee (not even 8 pm)! I recommend working out your time zones and setting reminders for the first few days to get accustomed to your new routine and what your colleagues might be experiencing on their end. During the process, ask questions and strive for updated feedback every day.
4. Never compare. The grass is always greener on the other side.
Tuck away your thoughts of self-doubt and give yourself a chance to grow. Performance pressure and comparisons can be frustrating, especially when everyone is adjusting to new work environments with varying hurdles to overcome. Remember you are doing just fine with what’s on your unique plate, and so is everybody else. Focus on your own situation and how you can make the best of it. Ask questions, maintain regular check-ins with your team and supervisor, and hey – a virtual party never hurts!
5. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Our scientists are striving every day to defeat the pandemic, and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not over yet, but hope is on the horizon. In the meantime, cherish working from your cozy space and the other flexibilities remote work has allowed. You never know what you’ll miss when you’re back in the office.
With good communication, the possibilities for what may work for you are endless. I am thankful for my supervisor and teammates who always had my back and enabled me to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m grateful to have ended 2020 on such a high note with the fantastic R+K team and family by my side. This is my pandemic story, and I would not have it any other way.
My closing advice is to take a break, breathe, and amaze yourself with the possibilities of cans over cants. And don’t forget to mask up!
By Afsha Iqbal, Digital Traffic Coordinator