Even as some countries raise new alarms regarding COVID-19, others are dealing with lockdown fatigue where employees anxiously await the reopening of offices. But until deemed safe to do so, fully remote as well as hybrid working models will persist for many corporates and countries as they have over the past year.
Already, many employees confess to feeling over-burdened as they navigate the vagaries of WFH – engaging young children, balancing household chores, taking care of elderly parents – all while meeting work deadlines. Hybrid models will certainly offer some reprieve; but the option of popping one’s head into another’s office for a quick status update is still missing, leaving employees grappling with communication gaps. As more and more collaborating and remote productivity tools flood the marketplace, employees are expected to quickly get savvy and adapt to these new technologies, too.
When extended hours and late nights become too much to handle.
With so much to juggle and without the familiar old office setting, many employees experience an increase in work pressure and anxiety about completing projects on time. Then, why not simply ask for more time? Many worry that requests for time off, deadline extensions, or just general non-availability appear unprofessional. Others are concerned about how delays in project deliverables will affect their performance appraisals.
Honest communication is the key.
Before asking to skip a meeting or extend a deadline, consider doing the following:
- Be realistic in setting your timelines for completing projects, knowing that in-office timelines and productivity might differ when working from home.
- Be honest about any WFH challenges you face like being a parent/caregiver, limited internet access, inadequate equipment, etc. Take stock of your home-work environment and communicate limitations openly and clearly so that your team is well-apprised and can adjust tasks accordingly.
- Openly discuss concerns about appraisals, promotions, etc., with your supervisors so you are aware of limits when making requests for unavailability and know how these will impact your track record and career growth.
Despite this, if a deadline simply cannot be met:
- Avoid waiting till the last minute to communicate the delay to your team. Everyone else is working from home too and will need to readjust their time accordingly.
- Be honest and apologize for the inconvenience, stating the reason succinctly.
- Propose a new deadline and ensure you meet it. Communicate your status periodically so that others can keep pace with your progress, especially when teams are working out of different time zones.
Remember that ‘a stitch in time saves nine’; applying it is a valuable practice to prepare for uncertainty and remain resilient.