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Surviving A Pandemic: The Complete Working From Home Guide

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, a growing number of companies in Dhaka are asking their employees to work from home to control the spread of the virus. This is an extraordinary time. We need extraordinary measures. It is a good thing that a lot of companies have made the right decision.

My reading is that the number of companies adopting remote operation is only going to grow in the coming days as we begin to wake to the seriousness of the crisis. 

Working from home is not a standard procedure in Bangladesh. While remote work has been a strong trend across markets, there are large companies with full remote operation and distributed teams, this has not been the case in Dhaka. This would be the first time a large number of companies are going remote. We can conveniently call this the greatest remote work experiment in the history of Bangladesh. 

Since remote work is a new protocol and most companies don’t have proper infrastructure and procedures in place to ensure smooth operation, productivity is likely to suffer. 

I have been working remotely, on and off, for the last few years. At FS, we have largely operated remotely. Although we continue to be a tiny team, it has been an experience. There are many benefits as well as challenges to remote work.

Here are some lessons I have learned working from home as well as a list of articles and guides from remote companies across the world to help you successfully navigate remote work.

First, tips for staying productive while working from home:

You need a dedicated place for work. You can’t work from your bedroom or dining room or anywhere in your home. You need a dedicated place for your work where people can’t access you without permission. You can have a room or set up your desk in one corner of a room and ask everyone not to disturb you while working. The best would be if you have a dedicated room with a door. 

Routine and structure: The biggest challenge of working from home is a lack of routine and a structure of your day. Since you are on your own and have all the freedom to work anytime you prefer, you are likely to mess up with your routine. This is an advantage and a challenge. If you don’t have a structure and a certain number of hours for working, you will not only struggle to complete your to-do list, it will affect other areas of your life. So set a time for your work and protect those hours religiously. 

Communication: If you are running a team or part of a team, communication is critical to ensure productivity. The best medium to communicate is video. We use Skype and Whatsapp at FS. We have daily and weekly calls that keep us going.

Distractions: One of the major challenges of working from home is distractions. Since you don’t have an office regimen, it is easy to go to Facebook and other distracting sites when you have the freedom. In order to get things done, you have to be vigilant and put systems in place to curb distractions.  I use a combination of tools to block distracting websites and track my time. I use Rescue Times to track my time and Block Site to block distracting websites. 

Exercise and physical movement: One disadvantage of working from home is that you are sitting all day and your need for commuting is not there. Moreover, we are living in an extraordinary time and due to safety measures, we are going outside. What I have found super useful over the years is a regular exercise habit. I had a gym membership before that I discontinued a few months ago. Now I basically workout at home. You can choose a basic workout regimen that fits you. Moving is always good for mood. 

These are some broad ideas that I have found useful over the years as a remote worker. Your remote working environment can be different from others and you may need rules that are particularly useful for you. However, I believe these broad ideas will help. 

To help you go deeper, below is a list of articles and ideas from some successful remote companies and companies that enable remote work. 

Rescue Time: Lessons learned from 100 years of working remotely

Rescue time is an online time tracking tool. The company helps you track you where you spend your time online. In this guide, Rescue Time puts together its cumulative lessons from many years of helping a large number of people work efficiently remotely. 

Trello: 12 Guides To Help Navigate The Remote Life

We use Trello for collaboration at FS. It is one of the common tools that many remote companies use across the board. In this article, Trello has put together a number of useful guides to help you navigate remote work as an individual as well as a company. 

Hubspot: How to Work From Home

Hubspot has some super useful blogs on diverse topics related to marketing and building companies. 

In this article, you will find lessons from successful remote workers regarding what works and what does not. Learning from those who already have done it is always useful. 

Todoist: So You’ve Been Told to Work From Home. Now What?

Todoist is one of my favorite to-do list apps. I have been using Todoist for almost two years now and it is super helpful to organize my work and day. 

This is a compilation of a list of fascinating guides on different aspects of remote working for both companies and workers. I have found some of these articles super useful for myself. 

Let us know how you navigate remote work: If you are working from home or remotely, we would love to know your experience and lessons and what works for you and what does not. Simply shoot an email with your tips and lessons at info@futurestartup.com 

Photo by Aleksi Tappura on Unsplash

Mohammad Ruhul Kader is a Dhaka-based entrepreneur and writer. He founded Future Startup, a digital publication covering the startup and technology scene in Dhaka with an ambition to transform Bangladesh through entrepreneurship and innovation. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, and society. He is the author of Rethinking Failure. His writings have been published in almost all major national dailies in Bangladesh including DT, FE, etc. Prior to FS, he worked for a local conglomerate where he helped start a social enterprise. Ruhul is a 2022 winner of Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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