With space limited in many Japanese homes, finding or creating a workspace may be difficult, however, having a space that’s dedicated to work is important for productivity and mental health. You may have to think creatively, but try to ensure you have a place that is easy to work in. You could use your dining table, or perhaps a kotatsu without the blanket. Once you have a space, think about what you’re using as your desk and your chair. Are they comfortable? Can you work all day there? Also don’t forget to think about the temperature, noise and (natural) light.
Considering all of these things, you may need to slightly rearrange your home layout during the work from home time, especially if you other members of your family are also home during work hours. If you can’t create extra space, think of how you can separate your working time, such as by setting up work area in the morning and putting it away when you are finished in the evening.
Keeping a routine
Despite no longer needing to commute to the office, it is recommended to maintain your regular routine. Waking up, eating breakfast and getting dressed are all important to getting your brain into “work mode”. Of course, since you don’t have to do your morning commute, you can use that time to do something productive for yourself, such as reading a book or getting some chores like laundry out of the way.
Also, it’s important to protect your working time. Our office hours are from 9am to 5:45pm, and our work from home hours are the same. If you live with other people, it is important to communicate these times with them, so you can focus on work without being distracted. You may need to establish boundaries about your availability, even though you are at home. The flip side is, after 5:45pm, unless an urgent task requires finishing, put your work away. It’s easy to be tempted into working late, since your computer is with you at home. But disconnect and give the people you care about your full attention. Having a separate time to work will allow you to be more focused at work, and happier in your home life.
Getting in contact
Our company has a number of ways for staff to contact each other, from typical emails to intranet services to instant messaging in the form of Teams. Staying in touch with colleagues, even without being the office, can be done in the way that best suits your team.
Of course, as full-time remote work is new to many people, managers especially should take care here. Be clear about what communication you expect from your team, when and through what channels, and lead by example. If someone isn’t communicating effectively, take some time to tell them what you need and follow up with them until they get the hang of it. A bit of encouragement will go a long way to helping team stay motivated and connected during this time.
Working from home, many people can feel isolated. You can’t say hello or chat to your colleagues while you grab a coffee from the kitchen, after all. But using the same resources you have for keeping in touch with your team, you can keep in touch socially as well. Sending a few messages over teams, or scheduling a video-conference lunch can be great ways to help maintain the social bonds that strengthen our working relationships.
Most people in Tokyo commute to work by train, and the walk to and from the train station to the office is valuable for fresh air and exercise. If you want, and keeping social distancing in mind, you can take a 15-minute walk around your local area before or after work. This can be beneficial for your mental health, as well as your physical health.
As we all adjust to this new way of working, it’s inevitable that there will be some bumps in the road. Given that not everyone has a perfect environment for working at home – whether that’s due to space constraints or the presence of family members or housemates – it’s impossible to expect 100% productivity right now. Do as much as you can, as best as you can, and communicate any problems as soon as you can. Slowly but surely, our strength as a team will carry us through this. I’m looking forward to meeting you all at the office again soon!