[Employee Handbook] Are you working from home due to the COVID-19 virus?- Here is your guide

During these difficult times where the COVID-19 virus is spreading in Morocco. Many of you will be working from home as a precautionary measure. As you know, this is a hard shift for you, your team, and your company. This guide is here to help you and your team work and communicate during this hard time. Another guide is also available to help companies manage this period of time.

If you are new to this blog, I’m Ahmed from Morocco and I’ve been working from home for 2 years now, alongside more than 1000 folks at Automattic.

I’ll help you work from home by sharing some tips and guidelines. Some advice here are for Moroccans, but the majority apply to anyone, anywhere.

Is this working from home or working remotely?

I wanted this to be the first thing I talk about before we get deeper.

Working remotely, before the COVID-19 virus, was a perk provided by companies. They offer employees the possibility to work anywhere they want, whenever they want. But also, wearing what they want.

But in this crisis, things are different. Companies are required to let people work from home if we want to stop the spread of the virus. Thus, this is not remote work! This is a work from home because of a crisis.

You need to understand this. Do not think companies will change the way they operate overnight. They’ll still expect you to work specific hours. They’ll ask you to keep your phone nearby. Your first days will be catastrophic. It’s normal.

Transforming a company to a remote one isn’t easy. Logistics, coordination, mindsets, etc. It all takes time to change. So expect a lot of friction and pushback in the first days/weeks. Hopefully, by the end of this, your company will see that they can use remote working to their advantage.

Your checklist for working from home

We’ll talk about:

  • Security
  • Productivity
  • Communication
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Cooking at home

Let’s start:

Your Security

Working from home means security implications. Make sure to apply the security rules communicated by your company. If there is a proxy/VPN to use, make sure you use it. Always lock your computer, and set it to auto-lock after inactivity. Update the anti-virus regularly and use your firewall.

Your productivity

“You’re less productive at home”. This is not true! You just need some help to make it work.

First, get yourself a dedicated and quiet area for work. You’re not going to accomplish anything in front of your TV, nor from your bedroom. Find a place you’ll call “office” during the next weeks.

Second, no pajamas. Wear something after waking up. Jeans and a t-shirt. Or a suit. That’s your choice. But definitely, don’t work in pajamas. You’ll get sleepy.

Third, move and hydrate yourself. Keep a water bottle near you, and walk around or move your muscles from time to time.

Fourth, block a chunk of time from your day to do non-work activities. Things like groceries, laundry, feeding babies, etc. Make sure to communicate this time frame to your team if it’s inside your working hours.

Even with the above, you may feel unproductive. I found the same thing happening to me this week. It’s not because of remote work, it’s because of what we are currently living. Don’t be harsh on yourself. If you can’t stop yourself but think about this virus, your family, friends, and everything that could happen, you’re not alone. Take it easy!

Your Communication

When in an office, you’re used to tapping the shoulders of your co-workers and say: ‘hey!’. You’ll be tempted to do the same thing now by sending “Hey!”, “Hello” and “Are you there?”. Please avoid that! Let people know what you want to say. Getting a “Hey” from your manager without being able to see his face is kinda… weird.

Make sure to send your question in the first message. Let the recipient answer on their schedule.

Speaking of writing, you need to be a better writer now. Information used to pass between coworkers during lunch breaks is not a thing anymore. In order for information to pass, it needs to be written. If you’re a manager, write down things. If you have an announcement, write it down and pass it to people. There is no need for a meeting.

This will be a huge shift in the way we operate as Moroccans. We talk more than we write. We prefer to recite the same thing over and over again but we hate to write it down. That’s why we have lot of meetings instead of emails. Please write things down. An email is always better than a meeting.

Your mental wellbeing

If you are used to going to an office. You’ll feel you are imprisoned in your home. That’s normal. This is a huge shift in your habits.

Nothing beats seeing your co-workers and talking with them. Make sure you use video-calls when talking with your team. Call your family more often and chat with your friends. Use technology to your advantage and to connect with others.

It’s also a good time to discover some new hobbies. This is a list of activities you can do at home: drawing, reading books, writing, watching TV, playing games, etc. It depends on you and your preferences. Here’s a list of things to help you get started:

  • Learn more about remote working with The Year Without Pants book. It is now free on Kindle.
  • Alto’s Odyssey game is now free on iPhone, Android, and Mac.
  • Here is a list of the best books I recommend. They are about personal development, money management, and marketing.
  • You can get creative with iron beads. Search for inspiration on Pinterest and start playing.

Cooking at home

You’ll need to cook at home too. It’s no rocket science, just some easy steps. If you haven’t done it before, here is a quick list of things to do:

  • Wash your hand before starting.
  • Wash your hands and any tools that were in direct contact with raw meat before using them another time.
  • Raw meat can be conserved for 2 days in the fridge, uncooked. Up to 3 days if cooked. And up to 3 months if it’s in the freezer.
  • Do not store raw meat with cooked one. Never.
  • For your groceries, there is no need to buy a lot. This is not an apocalypse, buy in reasonable quantities. Note down what you need in an app like Todoist and get them in one go.
  • Vegetables and fruits can’t stay for too long in your fridge. Make sure to buy only what you plan to use.
  • For ideas on cooking, go to YouTube and search for Tasty 3 ingredients. Or here is a list of dishes you can do in 20-min.
  • These are some YouTube channels with good cooking videos: Pick Up Limes, Binging with Babish, Home Cooking Adventure.

That’s it! I hope the information on this article were helpful. If you are interested in tools to use while working remotely, check the company guide, I share methods and tools you can use for remote teams.

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