Telecommuting: How to Successfully Work from Home

Are you down in productivity? You work 10 minutes then spend 20 scrolling on Facebook? Do you have an irrepressible desire to reorganize your playlists? You are not alone. With you, thousands of French employees who have gone teleworking without any preparation and little or no experience, but also entrepreneurs confined to their homes and deprived of contacts.

On March 16, 2020, President Macron announced the first containment measures in France, including the injunction to switch to telework when possible.

Since then, if there is no official figure, many French people work from home. This emergency situation will probably permanently change our working practices and encourage the development of this organization, which some have long defended.

Containment is therefore good news for teleworking in France. But it was set up in disaster, without any preparation or any supervision. 

For many people, working effectively in telework is not easy. For others, it is a way of life that they would not exchange for the world. They even find work from home or start their own home project. 

In this article, we will take stock of the rights of teleworkers and we will share all the advice to understand how to set up teleworking and make the most of your period of confinement.

Can you impose telework on your employer?

According to the Labor Code, an employee can make a request for telework to his employer who chooses to grant it or not. But he cannot impose it. However, the exceptional situation we are living in today allows it.

The Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Labor clearly prohibit travel if work can be done at home. So don’t hesitate to send a telework request to your employer and to assert your rights by sending an email with a registered letter.

Similarly, if an employee cannot in principle be dismissed for refusing telework, the emergency system in force indicates that everyone must comply with government measures.

The telework section of the Labor Code is clear on the issue of workers’ rights:

“The teleworker has the same rights as the employee who performs his work on the premises of the company.”

But in reality, the difference in environment creates a completely different daily life.

Telework: Benefits

His supporters are full of praise. It is true that the advantages of telework are numerous, both for employees and for businesses.

Telework: Benefits for Business

  • Savings on premises and current expenses
  • Decrease in absenteeism rate
  • Improved employee satisfaction
  • Better employee productivity

Telework: Benefits for Employees

  • Save time and money
  • Better daily management
  • More autonomy in task management
  • Better concentration
  • Better balance between private and professional life

This list of telework benefits is truly compelling. All of these points are true. As long as people are trained. Because aspects such as concentration, productivity or professional and personal balance do not fall into place naturally, far from it. So how do you work from home?

What are the risks of home teleworking?

You do not see what are the risks of working on a sofa? However, they do exist.

If many are enthusiastic about not going to the office anymore, they can quickly become disillusioned. Once you are home alone, you can appreciate the benefits of the business.

Physical risks

Workplaces in companies are subject to strict legislation. Positioning of the desk and the chair, circulation space, intensity of lighting… The layout respects the charters of safety and hygiene at work, written for your well-being and your health.

But in home teleworking, it’s your responsibility. 

Eye fatigue, tendonitis, neck pain, low back pain, and carpal tunnel syndromes are waiting for you if you don’t take the following precautions:

Home office layout

telecommuting office

As much for the physical as for the mental, work on a desk or at least a table. A couch station is allowed from time to time, but most of your day should be spent sitting or standing in front of a flat surface.

The dimensions of your table and chair should allow you to have your arms close to your body, an angle of the elbow between 90 and 135 degrees and your hands in line with your forearms. Finally, your feet should stay flat.

If this is not the case, then it is better to alternate between sitting and standing. Place your computer on a shelf or high work surface.

The emergency that drives us to telework presents a major problem: the laptop is not suitable for full-time work.

The fact that the screen and the keyboard are in one piece forces the worker to stay in a bad posture: look down and neck bent.

The labor code and European standards clearly indicate that the separation of the screen and the keyboard is necessary for a healthy position.

It is therefore necessary to use a support allowing to place the top of the screen at eye level, as well as a keyboard and a mouse.

Unfortunately and unless there is a collective agreement or a charter on teleworking specific to the company, the employer is not obliged to take charge of this equipment.

What if he doesn’t provide it?

In this case, take long breaks at least every two hours. The ratio of working time to duration of break varies according to the study, but all agree that they are necessary for health, as for productivity.

Between the Labor Code, which recommends 10 minutes every two hours and this Latvian study which recommends 17 minutes every 52 minutes, it’s up to you to find your balance.

The lighting

Very important also for comfort at work. To protect your eyes as much as possible, here are the recommendations to follow:

  • Place your computer perpendicular to the windows to avoid glare, ideally 150 cm away.
  • Distance between your eyes and the screen: 50 to 70 cm, depending on the size of the screen.
  • Regularly blink and look away
  • Avoid too strong contrasts between your screen and your environment (eg strongly bright screen on a dark wall).

Psychosocial risks of telework

For those who are not used to it, who do not appreciate loneliness or who need the reassuring framework of the company, teleworking can prove to be a source of stress and anxiety. There are also many telework training courses. This is proof that such an organization is anticipating. 

What do these telework training courses contain? Precisely, they tackle points such as the balance between personal and professional life, teamwork, relationships with the hierarchy or even the optimization of one’s time.

Manage your productivity

Falling productivity is probably the main problem encountered by the beginner telework candidate. So tempting to come and go at home, to get lost on the Internet and to stop every 10 minutes for a suddenly essential task: evaluating each title of its musical library, putting away its books (color team vs alphabetical team), finally playing this dusty guitar … check the right box.

Clearly, to get you out of there, there are a few tips, but no silver bullet: you won’t cut self-discipline. But you can do it.

How to work from home?

It’s very simple: do as usual and recreate a frame.

Because no one works well in chaos. Even those who are used to working from home will tell you. 

The interest of this organization is to be able to follow your personal routine without disturbing others. But while waiting to find yours, stick to the business. That is to say :

  • Get up at the same time every day of the week
  • Play sports if you’re used to it
  • Dress (in an outfit you would assume if you passed a colleague)
  • Eat your breakfast
  • Start your work at the same time, in a dedicated and clear space

If your employer does not give you a precise schedule, do it yourself, according to your usual goals.

If you tend to run into organizational problems, set one or two goals a week and cut them into small sections every day.

Write a daily to-do list and cross it out as you go.

As we said above, take breaks regularly. But not just any breaks: breaks of ” mental wandering “, as Cyril Couffe, doctor of cognitive psychology and neuropsychologist calls them. His work has proven that one gains in productivity thanks to these pauses of reveries. Look at the ceiling, through the window or listen to music, but don’t read your text messages or hang out on YouTube.

Save that for the longer lunch break.

In this regard, everyone knows that it is harmful to eat at the office and this is even more the case when working at home. 

telecommuting lunch

If you tend to snack all day, it is all the more important to have a real lunch break, during which you enjoy yourself and savor what you eat. 

If you can, eat lunch by your window, on your balcony or in your garden if you are lucky enough to own one.

For the less disciplined among us, it will be necessary to resolve: close ALL tabs not directly related to your task and turn off your phone. Again for beginner teleworking, the rule is: do not do what you would not do in business.

If you are not alone during confinement, make it clear to your roommates that you are not available for the required time.

If, despite all these measures, your concentration weakens, use the Podomoro method: set an alarm and program working periods of 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break, until you have finished the task.

You can do it.

For entrepreneurs, more used to a flexible pace, but very subject to social contact, it is the same technique. If possible, do as usual and replace your meetings and meetings with videoconferences.

Telework tools are booming. Slack, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts … There is no shortage of solutions.

Take advantage of this time to review your marketing strategy, take stock of your objectives and set new ones. Take a moment to reflect and step back.

And remember, the productivity issue, the hardest part is getting started.

Manage stress and anxiety in telecommuting

So much for productivity. But another danger awaits the employee or the entrepreneur who goes to work from home: the feeling of isolation.

For many, this physical isolation can become mental and lead to anxiety, doubts, devaluation … a bit like being put in the closet.

This feeling is normal, but can be amplified by the lack of organization that we experience in the transition to telework.

telework isolation

No more coffee breaks and debriefs between colleagues. Farewell, the reassuring vision of the office neighbor who seems to be struggling as much as you. You are alone. So let’s see how to work well from home.

Stay in touch with others

For everyone’s balance, it is important to maintain meetings, face-to-face discussions, but also chats, to keep in touch with your colleagues or collaborators. As a manager, you are responsible for overseeing telework exchanges and ensuring that no one is lagging behind.

For example, you could organize a small point at the beginning and at the end of the day, to create a feeling of collaboration and cohesion.

Take coffee breaks remotely and take the opportunity to chat informally, as you used to do.

Set limits

Another aspect which can threaten the mind when one is brought to work from the house: the disappearance of the limits between professional life and private life.

First, there is the question of working time, which can get longer without paying attention. The natural limit caused by the daily departure of our colleagues has disappeared.

Without limits, we let ourselves go, we lose concentration by telling ourselves that we have time. Then comes 6 pm and a feeling of ineffectiveness settles.

If you nevertheless have a deadline the same day, you will therefore work much later than planned, if you do not have one, you will feel guilty.

The solution: set your own time limits. At such a time, you stop whatever happens. Then do something else entirely. Go out (with your certificate!), Clean up, exercise, treat yourself to a distraction… Disconnect and come back to it only the next day.

If you follow the advice given in this article, guilt should not settle. If this were nevertheless the case, you need more structure, do not hesitate to ask your employer for telework training.

The entrepreneurs are less sensitive to this lack of structure, but are known to have a tendency to work anytime and leave pro life impinging on their personal life. You currently have more time. Take the opportunity to find a more balanced rhythm.

Manage your emotions

These tips relate to telework in general, which can be confusing for some. But we are also in a period of confinement, widely recognized as being a source of anxiety.

The studies on recent outbreaks and containment experiences show that these can cause “symptoms of post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, irritability, confusion, fear, anger, abuse of drugs or drugs, sleeplessness, stigma. ”

impostor syndrome at work

The combination of these two phenomena can seriously affect some people. Add to this the threat of the virus, an anxiety-provoking possible in the collective imagination, we switch to explosive terrain.

Faced with this frightening but collective situation, it is important to listen to your emotions. Recognize those that are negative and try to defuse them through positive psychology.

The soldiers and in particular the submariners, specialists in containment, also insist on this point and the fact that maintaining contact with their loved ones significantly reduces stress.

Working at home with children

child care at home

There is a particularly complex situation right now: being a parent.

Working with children trapped at home is probably one of the biggest family and professional challenges of the century. And the families who go through this experience will undoubtedly be marked by it.

And what about the solo parents? How to telecommute under these conditions?

The first thing to understand in this situation is that you are going to have to be less demanding of yourself. Forget the eight hours of daily work, you have to split up.

Alone or in pairs, the best solution is to divide your activity into sections. Early in the morning or in the evening when the kids are sleeping, while they are watching the cartoons (all psychologists agree that it is okay to show a little more cartoons than usual) or do another activity alone, or while doing homework if they have one.

Explain the situation to them, but be prepared for interruptions in your work, as the youngest children will find it difficult to understand that you are there, but not available.

Children who absolutely need a minimum of social life too, team up with another family so that they can play together from time to time.

Despite these difficulties, it is still an opportunity to spend time with family and (re) discover activities to share.

Because all situations combined, we live in a unique and difficult moment and more than ever, we must remain positive.

How is teleworking going for you? Do you have other tips to share to work well at home? Let us know in the comments.

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