25 Mar Working from home…. Survival Guide!
As the entire world tries to adapt and navigate the ‘new normal’, I wanted to share some ideas to keep you healthy, focused and productive as you embark on your work from home journey. Clearly, not all jobs are created equal and allow us to work remotely but for those that can – please make sure to take care of yourself. In this time of uncertainty, it is very easy to overdo it and inflict unnecessary pain and injury. After all, you can’t leave your house now to seek medical or therapeutic assistance.
Let’s focus on proactive measures:
- Define your workspace: Where you work matters. Your workspace has a huge impact on your mood and your overall productivity. Although a home office, dining room table or a kitchen counter may seem like comfortable areas to work at, your body might think differently as it will ultimately pay the price. Maintaining the proper posture is critical, as poor habits will lead to tension headaches and poor quality of sleep overtime. Many people unfortunately, don’t correlate these behaviors to the pain they inflict on their bodies. Simple tricks such as keeping your feet flat on the ground and sitting on a sturdy chair will yield long term benefits. Ensure the center of the screen is at eye level to prevent slouching and rounding your back. For individuals looking to tone their core (BONUS!), sit mid to edge of seat as this position will activate your abdominal muscles. IG Tutorial.
- Establish work hours: Now that you have defined your perfect working space, it’s time to define your work hours. Working from home saves you time, as you no longer need to commute. For some, you don’t even need to shower… what this translates to is logging in earlier and typically working later. You know and understand the demands of your work. Given the current situation (COVID-19) and most companies following the ‘All Hands-on Deck’ model, you might be expected to add additional hours until Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity Processes (BCP) have been invoked. This does not mean working 24/7. Be explicit about your start an end time. Plan your meal and drink breaks and really make the effort to eat away from your computer. Use the washroom when needed and get up at least once every 90 minutes. If you are a part of a team, cross-reference schedules with the team to ensure there is coverage and support when required. If possible, squeeze in some exercise in between calls and meetings (be sure video conferencing is turned off…).
- Manage expectations: Identify and analyze critical tasks that must be completed each day, determine their priority and create a schedule. For example: morning tasks, after lunch tasks, or must be done by end of day tasks. Checking your email, instant messages and phone are now more critical than ever but this will result in significant distractions to larger initiatives that require your undivided attention. It’s okay to set expectations as to when peers, clients, coworkers will hear back from you. A popular and often very acceptable response of 1 hour is more than appropriate. Again, you know your workload and will adjust as needed but follow the 80/20 rule. Have an open and transparent dialogue with your Leadership/Clients/Employees, as to how they will communicate one-off requests and establish adequate completion times. If something is taking longer than anticipated, make sure you provide frequent updates and reset expectations. Remember, every company is a collaborative team effort and you should never feel like you are carrying the burden of responsibility solely on your shoulders. For you Sole Proprietors – I feel you. You will assume all of the pressure and responsibility; therefore, you specifically need to set realistic expectations with your clients ahead of time.
I happen to have one of those jobs that doesn’t transfer well to a remote work environment – I am a licensed Massage Therapist or as I like to call myself – The Wellness Executive (@thewellnessexecutive). 90% of my work is directly with humans, small and large groups of people – all of which is currently banned. My typical day consists of seeing clients in my Wellness Studio or traveling out with my team to host Wellness Events at corporate locations. So, you see – my business and support model are significantly impacted. The remaining 10% is consulting clients, HR and Benefit Specialists on the types of Corporate Wellness Programs they should focus on. My programs consist of wellness education hosted as a Power Breakfast or a Lunch & Learn, followed by individual, seated chair massage sessions. For now, we are modifying the program to host the wellness education sessions remotely and we’ll see how that goes.
What I am trying to say here, is – I, just like you, have been forced, pretty much overnight – TO CHANGE. Change my schedule, my business model, my routine. As upsetting as it may be, I am really enjoying the extra time at home with family and getting creative about continuing to care for my clients from a distance. Now – more than ever, you must force yourself to see the good in this situation and take advantage of the opportunities this rather ‘dark’ time has created. Focus on each and every day, don’t stress 30 – 60 – 90 days into the future. Focus your energy on what you can control and continue being compassionate and empathetic to those around you (keeping the appropriate distance, of course).
All jokes aside, let me share a different perspective into the ‘new normal’ my wife is currently navigating. She oversees a North American Team of Product Managers for a global Financial Institution. She travels for work and works remotely (whenever and wherever) – this sudden transition was extremely easy for her. She and her team were able to go above and beyond to help others within the company, while they had to adapt to a new work model, and in some cases, transfer from a PC to a laptop. Guess what? – she is used to working from home – all by herself – and now, our children are here. Oh oh!! This is a new level of distraction; she needs to learn to deal with. All while cooking meals on the fly because all of the sudden, these little people (we call our children) want to eat every 20 minutes. Yes! Yes! – I help in the kitchen all the time and most-definitely contribute to the eating.
Another new challenge (for the both of us) is adapting to ‘distance learning’ or as others call it ‘eLearning’, ‘homeschooling’, etc. This is probably the most challenging task. Since most of us are on Spring Break this week… I will cover distance learning tips in the next blog.
Thank you for reading, I hope I was able to take your mind away from your daily stressors and put a new perspective on things. First of all, you are doing great and second of all, you are not alone. Be open. Try your best in exploring this new virtual territory. You’ll be surprised at the strength you possess and how good it will make you feel. For those with kids, you are teaching them life lessons they will remember forever and those without kids, you are building a solid foundation of self-resilience for the future to come.