With so many people sheltering in place right now, you might find your sanity wearing thin. You are going through lots of changes in your home and work environments right now. You are cooped up and suddenly working in a home environment that isn’t necessarily designed for it. It can be chaos! I have some tips for how you can keep it together—or, almost as good, give the impression you are keeping it together (we’ll take the small victories these days).
Perhaps by now, you’ve figured out your YouTube workout regime. But what about moving during the work day? Feeling a little…stagnant? Find reasons to move around! Take standing breaks and get up and walk around to keep blood flowing. Go to the mailbox several times a day even though nothing is there. Take the trash out more often. Do some yoga stretches on your lunch break. Refill your beverage early and often. Check in with any four-legged furry co-working buddies.
When the weather cooperates, doing reports or admin on the porch or balcony is a nice change of scenery. For example, while writing this blog, I am listening to song birds, watching squirrels chase each other in a tree, and observing blue jays and cardinals competing for seeds in an almost empty bird feeder. Not a bad office view, although you might want to hold off on taking calls outside—no one wants to sound like they are phoning in from a windstorm!
Dress for Success
The ultimate question people have about working from home these days—real pants or no? Personally, I have declared a no fly zone for work-at-home attire—yoga pants, leggings, stretchy exercise pants or shorts, but no pants with a fly. If I have video calls, I’ll upgrade my clothes (or at least the shirt) from a cotton t-shirt to something slightly more stylish. CAUTION: If pajama bottoms become your new work-from-home wardrobe, be careful on video calls. If you need to get up for something, you don’t want to show off your froggie pajama bottoms.
That being said, getting dressed for work can help with mindset, particularly if you are used to commuting to work. That drive (or walk) time was a transition to start work. Try tailoring something similar to suit your new routine. I generally walk first thing (depending on the season), and also tend to shower to start the day just like I did when working in an office. Alternatively, I have heard more than once a colleague needing to rush off the phone in the afternoon because they haven’t showered yet and need to head out of the house soon. An associate once told me that her UPS guy saw her several times a week to receive packages, and he had only seen her in pajamas. Working at home enables you to find the structure that works for you.
When you can, start a call with a 5-minute check on how others are doing. Managers should do this with one-on-ones with their team (try to keep it to just 5 minutes, because this can certainly derail the majority of time on the call if you let it). But a quick pulse may be helpful and build/maintain relationships with clients and coworkers. Another idea that Caveo does, is to periodically have a virtual happy hour (at the end of the day of course) where we have optional beverages and some face-to-face time while having a bit of fun.
Maybe your problem isn’t quiet and isolation. Maybe you have too many humans in the house to work productively! Have a plan to occupy kids during the key times you need it. Save their favorite movie for your key times you need them occupied, like for important calls. Plan a snack with an activity associated. If you have a spouse or roommate, communicate the key times you need quiet or focus, and that may be a good time for them to take a walk outdoors with the kids. With more people competing for Wi-Fi signal, you might need to coordinate when the kids get bandwidth for video games or streaming movies and when you get it for work tasks.
I like the idea of the whole family keeping a gratitude journal. It can be with words or pictures. Everyone thinks of 3 things each day they are grateful for. It can be dinner conversation, a bedtime routine, or a private activity in a notebook. When there are lots of things we are giving up, it is good to be reminded of the good things we have.
The New Normal
I was recently on a call with clients. There were four of us. I asked a question to get their input. One person’s dog barked. One person’s baby that was sitting on her lap cooed. The third person’s toddler ran up with an exuberant exclamation. They all had input! It was honestly delightful and heartful. We need to take things in stride and not get hung up on being overly stuffy and professional. Keep things in perspective. Try to stay sane. This is the new normal.
Topics: Working Remotely