The world around people is changing, while one business after another is closing or adjusting operations amid the novel coronavirus outbreak. Casinos are closing, events are being postponed, workers are being laid off and some people are being asked to work from home or have chosen to work from home.
Working from home can be an adjustment for those who are used to working at the office and operating with several different people and navigating through phone calls and meetings all day. It is much preferable to walk down the hallway to the meeting room to collaborate with co-workers, but workers simply don’t have that luxury anymore.
The last week working from home has been awkward. I appreciate saving gas and time on the commute, but I really miss those office conversations and being able to collaborate closely with my co-workers on a more personal and accessible level. The change is impacting the way the agency operates.
I’ve been changing my method daily and have even done a little homework on how to make this transition a little easier and have found some tips that may help others during this strange time as well.
Set regular hours and rhythms.
Workers still work the hours they work. No matter what the start and end time was before the COVID-19 quarantine, make sure to stick to it.
Be sure to have a morning rhythm before starting work. Make time for self-care before settling into “work-mode” and end work on time. It is tempting to work past the “quit time” because workers don’t leave work to go home. They’re already there in both places simultaneously. So, it is important to decide when to stop working and to stick to it. The evening time is time the for family and to prepare for a new day.
Set boundaries with people inside and outside of the new work space.
Communicate with those at home to set some boundaries. Workers should let them know that even though they are home that doesn’t imply they are always available. Tell them between which hours personal attention is limited and assure them that they will have that attention and availability after a certain time.
Communication with the outside world will increase naturally as workers aren’t seeing their friends, co-workers or family members as much. Most people will understand if others aren’t responding every second, but if a person is in management it might be helpful to set boundaries specifically with their employees. Set a designated place for ongoing conversations like Google Hangouts, and let everyone know that phone calls should only be used for training purposes or urgent matters. Delegate certain lines of communication for specific purposes.
Work sprints and microbreaks.
A method I stole from one of my co-workers is the idea of working for a focused one-hour window and taking a five-minute break to take a quick breather, grab a drink or snack from the kitchen or check Facebook. People are missing all those microbreaks they used to have in the office talking to co-workers and engaging in casual “chit-chat.” So be sure to take breathers while working hard at home. Sprint through some tasks and take a quick break.
Don’t cheat on breaks or lunches.
Personally, I am terrible at this point. I’ll take a break or “go on lunch,” and while I play on my phone, I’ll find a call or text I missed from a colleague, an email that needs responding or a task I forgot to initiate and I’ll find myself struggling to stay on break. But it is very important to take those breaks seriously. It prevents burn out. Workers should tell themselves they’re honoring their work ethic by giving themselves a well-deserved break to recharge.
Go outside, breath, exercise and meditate.
To expound on honoring breaks and lunches, there are some productive things workers can do on their breaks. It’s a stressful time, and there are many hurdles people must overcome while working from home. So go outside, don’t forget to literally breathe, jump on the treadmill or elliptical to release some stress or maybe practice some mindfulness for five minutes. Call a friend or family member and check up on them during this critical period. Everyone is at their own home, so take advantage of all the perks to working there as opposed to the office.
Ask for help.
People are working from home alone, but they’re not alone. In the age of technology, use email, text, phone calls, Facebook messenger, Google Hangouts, Skype and more to reach out to co-workers and extended networks to ask for help. Do it. People are in this adventure together, and they can still there for each other via the internet. Ssk for help, delegate tasks and get advice as needed.
Keep in touch with favorite co-workers.
Co-workers aren’t seeing each other in person and a lot of communication can be work-related, but don’t forget to ask them how they are doing and don’t be afraid to partake in the missed “chit-chat” via social media or texting. Co-workers can’t enjoy each other in person but they can still enjoy each other in the virtual world.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Even outside of the coronavirus quarantine, so many workflow problems come from miscommunication. So. overcommunicate. It’s not annoying; it’s proactive. It is part of the job, business and livelihood. Don’t let easily avoidable problems affect the workplace just because there was an email, a text or phone call that should have happened.
Remember, this experience is a “one day at a time” thing, so go out there and keep performing like nothing can stop a business and its employees from getting through it. After all it ends, everyone will be geared for a full recovery.
For more tips on working from home and how to make marketing work for a business, visit https://reedermedia.com.
Kyle Hotchkiss can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.