02 Apr Working From Home – The New “Norm”
Balancing Life & Work During These Unprecedented Times
As we undergo the ever-evolving Covid-19 pandemic, our lives as we know them have already experienced some massive changes. Disrupting our daily routines and putting a dent (or a gigantic 10 car pileup) in our financial stability while completely transforming how the world we live in, operates. Working remotely, for those of us who are lucky enough to have that option, can be a challenge.
Prior to the pandemic, I am one of the fortunate souls that has worked from home over the past several years. As long as I have WiFi and a laptop, I can login from just about anywhere and work. This situation has allowed me a great deal of freedom – Particularly, more time with my family, the ability to coach youth sports, the opportunity to multitask and take care of “Honey-Do’s” around the house (laundry, cleaning, getting grocery shopping done, etc.) to even baking bread. No, I don’t mind the domestic chores. Truth be told, I really enjoy it.
Along with flexibility, however, can come challenges. As an entrepreneur by nature, I tend to lean on my trusted white board for visual prioritization and that physical sense of satisfaction when crossing off each completed task. As a parent and human being, it’s very easy to get sidetracked from mundane mid-month tasks, preferring to instead, bake that buckwheat and honey loaf from scratch and filling our home with that pleasing, yeasty, fresh corner bakery aroma. Having a whiteboard is one, tiny, classic tool that allows me to stay on task while still enjoying the things I love throughout each day.
With that, I’d like to share a few personal tips (and a few from the experts), on how to truly balance the work-life, teeter-totter that is working from home.
- Set a Schedule
If you normally work from 9-5, then stick to it. This can be flexible but adjust accordingly. If you get up late and start late, then put in a little extra time at the end of the day. If you put in a longer than normal day, then start a little later the next day or cut out early. The goal here is to try and stick as closely to your normal working hours as possible, while also enjoying the flexibility.
- Set Ground Rules with the People in Your Space
Those of us with kids (many of whom are at home due to school closures) need clear rules about what they can and cannot do during your workday. I like to let my kids know that I have a conference call coming up, and while they can do what they need to do up until that time, once the door to my office closes-it’s time to be quiet. Speaking of office space… I have found it’s not only convenient, but necessary to have a dedicated workspace. If you don’t have a spare bedroom to use as an office, find somewhere in the house where you can at least semi-isolate, (preferably away from the TV), and stick to that space. This habit not only gets your head into the right space, i.e. “once I sit here, it’s time to work”, but also lets others in your household know that you’re working – kind of like a “Do Not Disturb” sign.
- Take Breaks
You need to pull away every now and again, stretch, get some air (or like me punch down the dough you’ve been proofing for its next rise!)
- Socialize with Your Coworkers
We are, by nature, social creatures. Loneliness, disconnection and isolation are common problems in remote work life, especially for extroverts. It’s important to figure out how much interaction you need to feel connected and included. Set up weekly conference calls, maintain a chat window, etc.
- Take Advantage of Your Perks
Every week, I bake bread. Why? Because I work from home and I can. Plus, I really enjoy it and so does my family. Working remotely comes with unique perks and opportunities. Take advantage of them. You deserve it and so does your family.
- Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
The most successful remote employees have a reputation for being extremely disciplined –While I’m not the most disciplined on paper, I do get my work done. It takes serious focus to do any full-time office job from an unconventional space and truth be told for me, even in a conventional space, I have to really work hard to stay focused. Everyone lets their attention get distracted. If you find yourself working one minute and measuring out the yeast for your next dark spelt boule the next, don’t be too hard on yourself. Instead, ask yourself whether other people working remotely are doing the same thing – maybe not baking bread from grains that trace back to the Middle East 3,000 years ago, but let’s say shopping on Amazon? If the answer is yes, then don’t sweat it. Just remember to get back to work afterwards and most definitely before you sit down in front of the TV to binge watch your next 2 episodes of Tiger King.
- Finish the Day!
Just as you should start your day with a routine, create a habit that signals the close of the workday. It might be letting your colleagues on the West Coast (this is important for myself as I’m on the East Coast) know via Skype that you’re calling it. Take the dog for a walk. Or, like me, start assembling dinner! I love to cook. And due to the pandemic, having to stay home has elevated my game. Last night was especially good – Thai grilled beef salad, Asian garlic noodles and fried pork Gyoza. Whatever it is, get into a rhythm and try and stick to it.
A quick note for those in owner/manager positions… Remember that these are trying times for us all, especially for our employees with children now at home, having to navigate new, unfamiliar circumstances, concerns and fears regarding financial situations, health worries, and balance all of it. Be supportive, be positive and above all, be compassionate. Our employees are our most valuable assets.
Hope this post gave you a few tips and perhaps even a chuckle, which we all could use these days. Be safe, take care of your family and your neighbors and strive to look at the positives during these unprecedented times. We’re all in this together – Let’s make the best of it.
CEO – Effectus Media Group