Working From Home….Tips For Surviving the New Normal
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Posted by: Catherine White CCEP
Working From Home….Tips For Surviving the New Normal
Submitted by: Catherine White CCEP
In this unprecedented global pandemic, most of us have found ourselves working from home. This can be challenging, especially if it’s something that you’ve never done before. For many of us this will be the new normal for what we hope is weeks but may be months. Here are a few tips on how to adjust from an office environment to making the very best of working from home.
1.) Create a workspace
If you have a dedicated office space in your home, you’re a step ahead. If not you need to create one. Try to make it a space that has natural light, is comfortable (think good chair) and that you can leave or pack up at the end of your workday. By doing this it will help signal that your work day is done. If it’s your kitchen table and you need to put it away at the end of your day, consider keeping a dedicated box or bin to keep things in. The more you are able to separate the space the more you are able to avoid work creeping into your downtime. Overworking from home can be an issue for many, so this is one step that can help.
2.) Get dressed
Although many of us have dreamed of working in our pajamas, this is not the time. By getting showered and dressed in work attire, it signals to our mind and body that you are ready to work. It transitions us from the state of getting up to, ready to start the day. Most of us will also be on some form of video chat during the day, so looking and feeling like you would in the office should also be done at home. This will also make the transition back to office life easier when we get there.
3.) Create a schedule
You need to be clear with your colleagues and others that you may live with when you are working. A schedule can also give you a sense of control and normalcy if you stick to your regular work day. Arrange for meetings and breaks as if you were in the office, and plan your day to know what you want to accomplish.
If you have children at home that require your care, then keeping a schedule and managing your workday becomes a greater challenge. If your work allows it, one option would be to split your day. Get up early in the morning and get as much done as you can before the children are up, then complete your day after they’ve gone to bed. If they are at an age where they can be on their own for a while, consider putting a sign on your door. Use stoplight colours to easily communicate with younger children - red – do not enter, yellow – knock before coming in, green – you can come in.
Working from home means embracing technology. Video conferencing is a nice choice as you are able to connect and see those you are working with. This is the closest we can get to a face to face meeting. A number of vendors are offering their services for free for a period of time. If you need some help to learn how to use your video conferencing tool, YouTube has numerous videos to help you out.
These tools are not just for meetings, and as an event planner I’m now being tasked with how to take the events that we have scheduled in the upcoming months online. This is a learning curve for many of us, and something that many organizations are tackling right now.
You may also be using your phone more to talk to people. Once again it’s that social interaction that you’ll find you need that email and text just can’t provide. It also allows you to get those quick answers.
You’ll need to figure out what format your communication with your staff and/or your superiors will take, how often that it will happen, and schedule it. Just because you’re working remotely doesn’t mean you can’t collaborate with your co-workers. If you’re working on a project and running into issues and you would normally walk into a colleague’s office, don’t default to an email or text, pick up the phone, plan a video chat, or message them. When working from home you’ll find you need different forms of communication to help you from feeling isolated. These quick two way forms of communication can also help to keep everyone on the same page.
It is also important to keep a line of more social communication open with those you work with. You’ll no longer be running into people in the coffee room, having them pop in your office for a quick chat or having lunch together. We all know that we’re not talking about work with our colleagues every minute when we’re in the office. These are the people that, most often, we’re spending more awake hours with than our family. We get to know them pretty well and generally care for them. You’ll want to continue to stay in touch and hear about the personal things that are going on in their life. Be sure to make the effort and reach out to them.
6.) Take Breaks
No one spends the entire day at the office working. Being at home is no different, except that you don’t have that colleague coming in and dragging you off to grab a coffee. Sometimes you get working on a project and the time slips by and you don’t realize you’ve missed lunch. Taking a break away from your office or workstation is essential, it keeps your mind refreshed and gives your eyes and body a break. If you can get outside at least once a day it helps rejuvenate you even more. If you’re one that really gets absorbed in your work, set timers, your body will thank you for it.
7.) Have some fun!
This is a difficult time for all of us, so be sure to add some fun into your day. Have virtual lunch with your co-workers or an after work pub night or whine and wine. Start some contests, have people share a photo of their work space to see who has an awesome set up. Share recipes or what shows you’re watching. You can play online games together or even watch a movie. Have people tell you about their pets like it’s their office colleague: “My teammate is sitting on my desk grooming her toes.” If appropriate, arrive for your web conference in costume. We need to have some laughter right now, it will help us all get through this.
What we’re going through is a very unique situation. We have no template to follow. Be sure to be kind to the people you connect with and cut them some slack if they’re not on their A game. This quote from Thefinancialdiet really sums everything up:
“REMEMBER that this is not just ‘working from home’ (if you’re lucky enough to be working remotely) It’s working through a massive period of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety – which needs extra care and attention. If you’re not at your most productive, that’s totally normal. Give yourself room to breathe. “