Working from Home for the first time? Here’s what to do

The COVID-19 virus has meant that thousands of South Africans will be working from home in the near future. Vivi Ho Quang, Customer Service Supervisor at Gumtree South Africa, leads a homeshoring team that exclusively works from home. Homeshoring is an alternative to offshoring where contact teams operate from their houses to cut costs. She has some advice for South Africans that are setting up home offices for the first time.

It is important to keep your work and leisure space separate. If you don’t you will find yourself working during your personal time (and vice versa). A small desk in the corner of a spare bedroom is perfect. Physical boundaries also help you if you have small children – they need to be taught that when the office door is closed, it means you’re working and can’t be disturbed. Mentally, it’s also important to put on office clothes every day…staying in your pajamas is tempting but dressing up sets the mood for the day.”

In terms of equipment, you don’t need much more than good lighting, a chair that promotes good posture and great wi-fi. If you are going to use the phone a lot, it’s worth investing in a headset or noise-cancelling headphones.

The biggest concern is load shedding, that can disrupt connectivity (including cell towers).

“You can buy an entry level UPS device online from R650. That will keep your wi-fi up and running. I would also recommend surge protectors to protect your PC and phones from sudden outages, and a power bank to keep your cellphone charged. Failing that, make sure to charge your laptop and phone overnight.”

She also states that it’s important to create good habits early on. “Get into a routine – e.g. set your alarm clock, have breakfast, dress, go the gym, shower and log on. By ritualizing your work schedule, it feels natural and you start doing it automatically. Use tools like Slack and Whatsapp to check in with team members and managers daily.”

You can also use technology to avoid distractions. “Unless it’s part of your job, download block-out apps that won’t allow you to access social media during working hours. Noise-canceling headphones can help (you can even play ambient office noise over Spotify to set the mood!). Don’t mix work and leisure activities, e.g. don’t keep games on a work laptop. It takes a while to get used to, but once you are used to it, you’ll see the benefits of working from home,” she advises.

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