Managing the new normal: Working from home amid COVID-19
Thursday, March 26, 2020
Be careful what you wish for. Many have long wanted more flexibility or work-life balance, and to sleep in or avoid traffic. Well, now you have it. But all kidding aside, this change presents both a new challenge and an opportunity to make the case for this shift in work-life balance.
Below are several ideas for making this shift a successful one. And for those who are not thrilled with working from home, whether it’s due to a greater feeling of stress, isolation, or perhaps the challenges of managing your out-of-school kids, there are some ideas for making this shift one that can work for you too.
1. Make remote-working work.
If you’ve been wanting to work remotely, this is your chance to prove it can work. Without a commute, distractions, or interruptions from other employees, you may be more efficient than ever. If you can demonstrate that efficiency is as good — or better — when you work from home, you are likely going to be successful in persuading your employer to allowing you that flexibility after the crisis is over.
If you have children at home, this may indeed mean more “off-hours” efforts. Don’t fake it. Be clear about what changes will make your situation successful. Check out this page for plenty of helpful ideas for keeping kids busy and engaged.
2. Demonstrate your accomplishments.
Whether requested or not, create an End Of Day/End Of Week document to demonstrate your competency and ability to be responsible for getting the work done. See my companion article on how employers can manage this workplace change and use the EOD/EOW for tracking individual progress. Send the EOD/EOW to your direct supervisor each week (or day if requested) to demonstrate what you’ve accomplished and ensure your company see’s your value, even when they don’t see you.
3. Get organized with your day.
Enforce your own work hours and schedule. It may be necessary to set times when you’ll check email, voicemail, work on a project, collaborate with a colleague, etc. By creating set guidelines, and any necessary boundaries, you’ll know that you’ve accomplished what you set out to do. Then, at the end of the day, step away from your computer or phone and allow yourself the downtime of being “off” work.
One hurdle is managing your work, the other is coping with the sudden isolation which may otherwise envelope you. Here are some other ideas that tap into the rest of your work-life balance needs:
4. Get outside.
We may not be able to congregate, but we still have the freedom to go outside. And, being outside is scientifically proven to be good for us. If you find being out of the office leaves you feeling socially isolated, your "balance" may come in the form of getting outside and smiling at or saying hello to those you pass.
Regardless of the reason, make time to take a walk around a local park, garden in your own yard, or just step into the sunshine to stretch. Give yourself a minimum of 30 minutes each day for this effort, whether it’s all at once or in smaller segments. These are essential breaks to stretch your body, breathe the fresh air, get some essential vitamin D from the sun, and to remember you are human first.
5. Find connection.
It’s not easy right now, but you probably have a neighbor who is similarly healthy and isolated — make time to check in on each other, share a meal, or talk. If you live with others, set aside a special time at least twice a week where you do something enjoyable together.
If you have children, make this a daily commitment. It may be a movie, cooking, a board game, etc. Ideally, the time should ensure that you are feeling pleasant emotions, smiling, or laughing. If you have a pet, dote on them a bit more. Or, consider fostering an animal from your local rescue group or animal shelter. For many this will be the perfect time to bring a pet into the family, even if it is a temporary measure. PetFinder.com can connect you with local resources for both cat and dog foster and adoptions.
6. Work-life balance.
Guess what? You can now do laundry or other intermittent tasks while you’re at work. You have the space and privacy to do yoga or meditate at lunch.
Depending on your ability to multi-task this can be a boon — or it can cause you to feel exhausted. Monitor how you use your time. Be sure you are putting work first, during work hours. But, if you are able to take care of yourself at the same time, you’ve made this new challenge your own success story.
Be well, do well, succeed.
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