By Una Wirkebau, Economic Coordinator Move 2030
I have embraced the #WFH scenario for much of the past 3 decades, not only here in the US but also across the pond, in what is termed as a â€œdigital nomadâ€. As you find yourself required to work from home now too, with our current global pandemic affecting lives everywhere, I am happy to share my experiences on how best to take on this new â€œhome workingâ€ version of yourself. It may seem uncertain at first, but be thankful that you have the opportunity, as many people do not. These are trying times, across the nation and spanning the globe. Stay calm, be kind, have an open mind, it may take a few days to get into the groove.
Find a routine.
Get into one as soon as possible. This may mean setting up boundaries for otherâ€™s who live in the same household. It also means having a location off-limits to all things not work-related. If you donâ€™t have a separate room you can make into an office, then section part of a room and get creative. Potentially you will be using your kitchen table, therefore meals are going to have to have a reassigned location. For most, this is a temporary assignment, so I wouldnâ€™t worry too much about aestheticsâ€”functionality is key.
If you normally begin your day at 9, then begin your day at 9. Do not wear pajamas; go through the same routine you would have normally done for going to work. Get up, eat breakfast, take a shower, get dressed â€“ your normal flow. Do the same when working from home. I suggest a good pair of headphones if you will be speaking to clients or offering video conference calls, a good chair, and any other accessories you use frequently, to be close by.
Do otherâ€™s live with you? It may be wise to have a discussion about rules when working from home. Perhaps having an â€œopen doorâ€ policy for an hour or two during the day, when family members can ask questions if needed. Simply using a green or red piece of paper like a flag to designate when you can be approached or not. Flexibility is key, behaviors will take time to transition, these are stressful times for all.
Lunch break? Time to get a new view. Go for a walk, stretch, throw the ball for your dog, be sure to stay hydrated, so top off your caffeine intake with more water while getting some nourishment. Having your day planned out in a routine fashion will allow time to move much more quickly. A sample day could look something like this:
9-10 = read and reply to emails and any other shared work documents
10-11 = video team conference call
11 = coffee break
11:15 â€“ 1 = project management
1 = lunch (get up, get out, wander, stretch, grab some food, relax in a different setting)
2 â€“ 3:30 = answer emails, follow up on social media, make calls
3:30 = take a quick walk around the block, breath in the fresh air, be sure to keep proper distancing in place
3:45 â€“ 5 = complete any daily assignments or any tasks which fall under a timeline
Before you know it, the workday is over.
Take time to be yourself
Be sure to take time to do something for yourself each and every day. Read, practice yoga, meditate, write, play a game, learn a new skill. It is stressful enough having a global pandemic, not leaving your home for days on end can add on to that anxiety. Practice video chats with friends and family have set â€œcocktail hoursâ€ where everyone Zoomâ€™s in together. I have seen some neighborly folks in town setting up ladders and chatting with the folks next door, over their divisional fence line. Whatever it is you choose to do, be sure to keep a minimum of six feet between you and the other person, hand wash frequently and wipe down common use items with disinfectant.
My work from home experiences have included lots of travel to far and distant lands, not always so easy to conform to the nicely laid out day above. Your job may not fit these parameters as well. The key here is to have open communication with your team, and to be flexible. We are all #inthistogether. Understandably, there is a lot of anxiety, confusion, and fear that accompanies the unknown. Those feelings are valid and are normal reactions.
Find more work from home ideas and webinars at www.westcenter.org
Be well, wash your hands, get some daily fresh air.