Before COVID-19 became a household term, I had worked from home occasionally. I remember wishing for some scheduled work from home days in my normal routine. Starting a load of laundry on a break or walking the dogs at lunchtime was a welcomed change from the rut of my daily routine. And it saves precious time at the end of the workday. But after just one week of working from home during this crisis, there are so many valuable things I’ve learned.
Keeping spirits high
I know that I’m mostly an extrovert. Although I do cherish alone time, I really do thrive in an environment with people. That’s why a few work from home days a month would be the perfect balance for me. While the many benefits of working from home like sleeping an extra hour, wearing the comfiest clothes, and not putting on makeup are awesome, it gets old, and quick. For me, having coffee and a quick chat with my friends in the morning, discussing work and home life with Megan, lunching with my bud Scott, and attending in-person meetings (yes, I actually miss meetings) are the things I miss. What that’s made me realize is there are things I must do to ensure my mental wellness during this time:
- Take breaks. Breaks are even more important now. When we’re at a physical location, the natural ebb and flow of work, questions, and meetings all take us away from our desks. But when we’re at home it’s different. The kitchen and restroom are just a few steps away. What would take 10 minutes in a building takes only a few minutes at home. So, step away, grab some fresh air outside, do some stretches, or play music and dance anywhere (yes, I’ve been known to do this). Do whatever makes you feel good and do it more frequently.
- Keep expectations realistic - for yourself and your coworkers. I have a natural guilty feeling that I must respond quickly to emails and requests just because I’m at home. I mean, I don’t want people to think that I’m not doing my job, right? This couldn’t be less true. For example, as I’m writing this, the last thing I should be doing is answering non-urgent emails. It interrupts my thought process and decreases my overall productivity. Give yourself a break and realize that response times shouldn’t change. Remember to extend the same courtesy to your coworkers.
- Laugh, share, and communicate even more. Our marketing director started a “song of the day” by sharing a daily video link complete with hilarious comments. The banter back and forth between everyone in our department has been such a welcome source of laughter and levity. Many of our associates are sharing photos of their new work from home stations and new coworkers or management (e.g., kids, dogs, cats) which helps lighten the day and reminds us that we’re all in this together. Here are a few more tips:
- Use technology. Social distancing is a sad reality, but necessary. Thank goodness for technology. Use it to communicate while seeing your coworkers in real time – Skype, Zoom, Facetime for iOS users, Google Hangouts, and Messenger video chat are all great options.
- Pick up the phone. Instant messaging and email are great, but nothing replaces the sound of hearing someone’s voice. And don’t make it all about work – check in with your coworkers about how they’re doing.
- Be grateful. Unfortunately, many people are out of work right now. I’m lucky that we have the capability to work remotely.
The other important thing to remember is we’ll eventually get back to normal. I hope incorporating a few of these ideas into your work from home day will bring you some happiness. I know it has for me.
I’d love you know your thoughts, please let me know what you are doing to keep your spirits high while working from home.
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