When the COVID virus was first suspected in the country, it didn’t cause significant changes. We went on with our daily lives thinking that it won’t be that bad or that it might be a false alarm.
We placed our daily routines on hold as the virus spreads. The government implemented curfews and lockdowns. They also suspended out-of-home activities such as businesses, schools, and public events.
Most people assumed it was “paused,” with the expectation that it will finish soon. But, as days turned into weeks and months, we understood that things would never be the same.
Our “normal” lives won’t resume and we had to adapt to the “new normal.” It was tricky, but thankfully, we are capable of adaptability and we were able to bring most of our activities online to try and regain a sense of pre-pandemic normalcy and routine in our daily lives. The “new normal” gave a lot of people more opportunities especially when it came to working.
With everyone connected to the internet, businesses, companies, and start-ups had a greater reach for hiring, thus increasing the trend of “virtual work” or “work from home”. But how exactly can you work virtually? What do you need to be able to work from home? If you’ve made it this far, you’re in luck because as a resident virtual assistant of The VA Hub in the Phillippines, I will be sharing with you 6 things I wish I knew before I started working from home.
#1: Find the perfect location.
Whether your house is big or small, yes there is a perfect location for your set-up. One of the things to consider when looking for your workspace is lighting. You have to ensure that you get good enough lighting that shows your face (and your space, if needed). Placing your workspace near a window could be good but avoid using your window as a part of your background as it will turn you into a silhouette when in video meetings. Another thing to consider is if your location is a busy area. If it is, you might want to try and relocate somewhere else, because it will be hard for you to concentrate. Instead, look for a clean and quiet space with little to no distractions.
#2: Invest in the right equipment.
When you decide to work from home, you want to ensure that you’re using the right equipment. Check your device if it meets the technical and system requirements of the meeting. Do you have a headset that you could use? Something with a noise-canceling microphone would be great for working from home. Is your camera clear and high in quality? Is your audio working? Do you need any additional light for your workspace? These are just some of the things that you may need when working from home. One of the biggest differences between physical office work and a home office is that you will have to create your own office once you decide to go this
route. If you want to perform the job properly, you need to have your equipment that has the right specifications.
#3 Create your space
Now that you’ve found your perfect location and have your equipment, you can now start creating your space. The key to creating a good workspace is ensuring that it is clean and clutter-free to boost your productivity. You may also want to set the mood for your workspace by setting up a work atmosphere or adding work-related aesthetics that will boost your focus and productivity.
#4 Stay on top of things and be ahead
As a first-timer, it’s important to make sure you’re on top of everything. Create lists so that you don’t miss any of your tasks or deadlines. Create reminders for you to look back on. On top of that, you’ll have to be ahead of the game. A simple example would be logging in earlier than your start time to check on your equipment and if they’re working properly, check on your internet. Create contingency plans to fall back on in case of any emergency.
#5 Communication is key!
At this point, you’d have to be great at communication as it is crucial when working from home. In physical offices, you can visit a co-worker by their stations and ask for any clarifications or help, and you can do this several times throughout the day (depending on the availability of the person) in return, they could also visit you to check in on you and your work. But in a work-from-home set-up, you won’t have anyone to constantly check in on you. You have to know how to communicate constantly and efficiently. Give your supervisor an update, ask them for any clarifications – and so on, while also making sure that you keep it concise and complete. Although everything and everyone is online, not everyone is available to be able to respond to your queries.
#6 Take your breaks
I know this may sound basic but it’s something that most people need a reminder of. Take your breaks. Don’t be afraid to take them, and don’t do work (unless necessary). The best practice is to take a break outside or away from your workspace to let your senses recalibrate. Take a good deep breath and have your mind devoid of work for just a few minutes. This is important so that you won’t get burnt out from work. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you overindulge in your breaks. Be responsible.
These are just some of the things to think about or go over when you decide to take on working from home here in the Philippines. You can take whatever works for you and leave what doesn’t, but these are the things I wish I knew before I started so that I could feel more confident in my work. What you’ve just read is also one of the things I noticed that helped keep my work-life balance. Hopefully, this helps and I can’t wait for you to hop on the work-from-home train!