By Laura Carrithers, West Director of Programs
None of us knows what a day will bring. We have our routines. And our assumptions: we start every day with the expectation that this day will be much like the others that preceded it. Itâ€™s with these assumptions that we can plan our futureâ€”we start businesses, save money for trips and houses, have date nights, we even psychologically prepare for potential events like a car accident or dental emergency. But most of us spend less time planning for famine, than for feast.
Covid-19 is not something most of us have been planning for. And the potential short and long term effects are still unknown, causing upheaval in our lives and the lives of people we care about. It is, at the very least, unsettling.
One new routine I wasnâ€™t prepared for but has become a growing necessity to quell the tide of viral spread is isolation in the form of self-quarantine.
How to live with the unknown and be isolated is a challenge. It’s a challenge individually, and for our local businesses that serve our communities. This is the time to find new ways to sustain and build community.
Recently I had to self-quarantine because my partner works in health care and was potentially exposed to a COVID-19 patient. To date, this has NOT been confirmed. But none the less an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure as the adage goes. The decision was easy, but I knew I would work from home for what I thought would be a few days. Over those few days however the global situation changed.
I have always loved working from homeâ€”no commute, fewer interruptions, casual attire, etc. It can be productive and relaxing, especially if you are independent and a bit of an introvert. Of course, I have also heard the stories from people that canâ€™t NOT do their laundry or organize their spice jars when they try to work from home. But those have not been my issues. My issue, as it turns out, is that I thrive on collaboration and camaraderie, being within earshot of my team. I like being in a place where everyone is working, and there is a buzz, so when my energy starts to slump at 3 pm, I can look up and see my coworkers focused on their various tasks and get a boost of focus.
However, there is something slightly unnerving about working from home, entirely alone, during a pandemic. If a few hours go by without a word from a colleague you can start to wonder what is happening back at the office. Perhaps I just tapped into the collective social anxiety, and maybe staying connected is the solutionâ€¦.
Self-Quarantine: How to Stay Connected to Your Team
In the modern globalized world of telecommuting and teleconferencing, there is no shortage of software solutions for keeping people connected. At West Center, we make use of many of these tools, like Slack for communication and collaboration, Zoom for meetings and webinars. Here are some other things that can help you stay connected to your team:
1. Fewer emails, more face time and voice time
Much of todayâ€™s communication is non-verbal, and a lot can be lost or get confused in texts and emails. So increase your face time with peers and managers using the technology thatâ€™s available to you. Platforms like Zoom offer screen sharing, which just adds to the feeling of being together in a shared workspace. Or just pick up the phone to talk.
2. Be proactive by scheduling one-to-one time
As a remote worker, itâ€™s easy to feel like you donâ€™t want to bother anyone back at the office with anything less than an emergency. (Itâ€™s hard to read a room when youâ€™re not in it.) The trick is to schedule recurring one-on-one time with your teammates, even if itâ€™s just for a 15-minute check-in.
3. Match your work schedule to colleagues
It might sound romantic to sleep when other people are working or vice versa, but working outside of regular office hours can isolate you further by delaying responses and making you inaccessible to your colleagues when they need you the most.
4. Stay connected with at least one co-worker via video chat
Working from home may make you feel like you canâ€™t just turn to a colleague to ask a quick question, but if you have a close colleague who can text or video chat frequently throughout the day, or doing a three-hour window, you can communicate with that person just as if you were both in the same room and retain a version of this beneficial co-working relationship.
5. Use collaborative software tools
Slack is a casual conversational channel that makes it easy to check in with your boss and coworkers once in a while and let them know you’re still doing your job and making progress. Utilize any direct messaging tools can help you have those impromptu â€œwater coolerâ€ type of conversations.
6. End-of-the week updates
At the end of each week, send your boss an email or schedule a phone call to let her know what you accomplished this week and what you hope to accomplish the next. The check-in can make sure both you and your boss are on the same page moving forward and most importantly it breaks the isolation feeling that can build up over a week of not seeing people outside of your household.
Of course, there are many educational activities that you can engage in during this time to mitigate isolation. West Business Development Center is providing ongoing educational webinars on a variety of topics. Visit https://www.westcenter.org/live-workshops for more information or contact us at www.www.westcenter.org/getting-started to work with a business adviser.
How to do Business in the Age of Corona Virus
As the number of California cases of COVID-19 rises, the team at West Business Development Center wants you to know we are here to help.
Stay informed and learn more about the resources available on our Corona Virus Resource Page Here.ï»¿