With the rapid spread of coronavirus, many people are finding themselves working from home. Many for the first time or at least for a much longer stretch of time than ever before. While remote teams and remote work are becoming more and more common, I think it is important to point out that what many people are experiencing now would not be considered normal remote working conditions. Here’s why:
Our usual routines have been completely disrupted
Our commutes, errands, drop off/pick up, events, extracurricular activities...everything is either cancelled or changed. Everything has been thrown off-kilter and it’s upsetting.
Many companies don't have the infrastructure to support remote work in
Shifting to remote work is something that happens over time with planning and facilitation. How to communicate, how to run your meetings, how to access company shared drives, etc. This change happened in a matter of days and many companies were not prepared (and why would they be?!).
Many jobs are not ideal for remote work
There are many roles that are not meant to be done remotely and are very difficult to even figure out how to do effectively. Even when your position does allow you to work from home it can feel like a big adjustment, during a time of big adjustment.
Many homes are not set up for remote work
If you don’t normally work from home, you probably don’t have a great setup for it. We all know how important a good workspace is for concentrating and productivity. FYI, your kitchen table is generally not a good workspace.
For many, there are kids at home
Also not the most conducive to concentration and productivity, or so I have heard….😬. This is a huge issue that I can’t even begin to imagine how people are tackling.
You are supposed to stay home as much as possible
For the extroverts out there, this is really draining. A lot of the activities we normally do in the evenings or on the weekends are cancelled or closed. Things we were looking forward to are either cancelled or up in the air. It can be lonely and isolating when you are used to a lot of different types of interactions.
Oh right, there is a pandemic...
Every day is more surreal and worrying than the last. So…maybe stress and anxiety levels are a bit high? Just maybe…😅
I work from home pretty regularly, have a great setup, no kids, and I am introverted….and it has been hard for me to concentrate and be productive.
Some Tips to Ease into Working from Home
Take a bit of time to figure out what a new routine might look like
- What time will you get up?
- What does your breakfast routine look like?
- Can you fit in a home fitness practice now that you can’t go to the gym?
- Do you have some simple meals you can plan for the week?
- Can you set boundaries with your family for work time and family time?
Set communication expectations and boundaries with your team
Set boundaries around how and when you communicate with each other. Try some new technologies to support staying connected. Slack, Zoom, Tadum (shameless plug) to name a few.
Take some time to think about the core of your role
What can you achieve remotely? What is off the table? How can your team support each other?
Carve out a workspace in your home
Find a place that is tidy, away from high traffic areas of your house, with as comfortable a chair as possible. Use headphones as a Do Not Disturb indicator to your family.
Suggestions for people with kids at home?
For those of you with kids at home, obviously how to handle this depends on their ages and if you have access to childcare. I don’t have kids so I don’t want to make suggestions about something I don’t know anything about. 😕
Set up some group chats and Zoom calls
Stay connected with your colleagues and friends, even just as a break. I use Slack with my team and WhatsApp groups with my friends. I am even having a Zoom and wine call with another friend in a few days to make up for the dinner we had to cancel. Don’t let social distancing isolate you.
Practice self-care, whatever that means to you
If ever there was a time, this is it. There are a lot of reasons to be stressed and anxious right now, make sure you are doing things that are healthy and fill your energy bucket. One thing, in particular, is to be conscious of your social media use and if it is contributing to your stress.
This is not an exhaustive list, by any means. There is a lot of info out there about running remote meetings (another shameless plug) or how to run a remote team. This is just a reminder that it is ok to be out of sorts with working from home. It is supposed to be awesome, and it often is, but these are pretty unique circumstances and it will take some time to adjust. Everyone is doing the best they can, including you.
The most important thing we can do (aside from washing our hands and listening to health recommendations ) is to try to be a bit kinder to ourselves and our teammates as we figure this all out.