Some of you were probably hoping for a zombie apocalypse as I was. And all we got was this lousy coronavirus. Jokes aside, the current pandemic has affected all our lives, and from a work point of view, we’ve been working from our homes for quite some time. Compared to regular office attendance, this poses several challenges. I would like to share with you what I do to cope with my new work location.
Set a schedule
Whatever you do, don’t let your “home” mindset mix with your “work” mindset. Set regular working hours within your home and don’t break them. Also, don’t forget your lunch break. It’s tempting to snack while reviewing work documents, but that’s one way to blur the line between work and time off. Your free time is important.
Setting up a dedicated workspace at your home might help as well. A study room, work desk or even a comfy chair where you can say “here is where I work,” will help you distinguish your workspace from a place of rest.
If you’re living with other people or you have a family, set some boundaries with them, too, and “do not disturb” times. Home can be full of distractions, and this is one way to fight them.
Be seen and heard
Being separated from your colleagues might not seem like as an issue at first. After all, we have online chats, Teams and groups where we collaborate and communicate. But don’t forget that lot of communication is also delivered in nonverbal form.
When in an online call or conference, try to over-communicate. Be proactive with reactions. Have your webcam on and be seen. Back in the office, a simple nod would speak sentences, but your online avatar doesn’t have that power, yet you still have to let your colleagues know what you are thinking.
Ask for what you need
Don’t be afraid to put your colleagues into context. You’re taking care of kids? That’s ok. Your food’s just been delivered? No problem. We all are struggling with things that wouldn’t normally be interfering with our work. It’s only natural to excuse yourself for a second, deal with it and then come back.
Also, from a technical point of view, you may benefit by borrowing some of your hardware from the office. Switching from two large screens to a little notebook monitor is never really fun. So, don’t be afraid to ask your manager about your options for using company hardware at home.
Socialize with colleagues
We all used to break up our workdays with little off-topic side chats. Or, we went as a group to lunch. Being home, we’re all missing this comradery and believe it or not, it adds to the culture of your team and helps you relax during your working hours. We’re now unfortunately stripped of this, but don’t be afraid to start a meeting with a little small talk. Or, set up a short recurring meeting just for coffee and chitchat. It doesn’t have to be forced, but even a bit of time spent talking about other topics helps you unwind.
Turn it all off and get some air
At the end of the workday, swap your PC or mobile screen for a safe walk outside and get some fresh air. Call your family or friends and check on them. Fix that squeaky door that’s been bothering you for some time. Staying at home all the time might be the best way to avoid coronavirus, but your mental health has to be taken care of as well.
I hope some of these tips will help you get through these hard times and soon, we’ll see each other back at the office again. Until then, stay healthy and stay safe.