I don’t know about working from home, she said. I don’t know if I can be as productive. It’s going to be an adjustment.
We spoke the day she found out that her office would be closing for two weeks, because of the coronavirus epidemic, and she would have to work from home.
Hearing her apprehension made me realize how challenging it must be to start working from home, not because of choice, but because you have to. Not only that, but you’re asked to work from home because of an epidemic, during a time of chaos, confusion, and uncertainty.
When I decided to leave corporate, launch my coaching practice, and work mostly from home, I did it because I wanted to be there for my girls. It was a choice that I made willingly and happily.
This is not the case these days, as people are asked to practice Social Distancing, change their daily routine, cancel travel plans, remain vigilant, and self-protect against a contagion.
Anxiety, fear, and stress are escalating with each News headline and announcement by the Department of Health.
Yet, persevere we must. The world has survived worse, and we each have to do what we can, to take care of ourselves and each other.
Getting back to working from home though, I do have some ideas as to how to make it work.
It makes sense that you would feel apprehensive about working from home. Your routine changed suddenly and not by choice.
Just because the setting is changing, it doesn’t mean your routine has to change too. Maintain your sense of normalcy and rhythm as much as possible.
- Begin by designating a corner or a room, of your apartment or house, as your office.
- Organize your working surface like you would organize it at work. Have everything you need ready. Set up your computer, files, paperwork, your favorite cup, water, a snack or two, etc.
- Wake up at the same time as usual and follow through with your morning routine.
- Dress like you would dress to go to the office, minus the high heels. Yes, you’re allowed to be comfortable.
- Have breakfast and your cup of coffee and head to your “office” down the corridor.
- Review your day and your to-do list. Start doing your thing.
- If you usually begin your day at the office by connecting with your co-workers or supervisor, make sure to connect with them via video conference, face time, or phone.
- Set a timer for a good 45 minutes at least. You want to get some work done before you get up to take a break. You want to do that especially the first few days so you can resist getting distracted.
- Think of your workday in 30-60 minute increments. Have a clear task list and check it off as you go. Seeing your tasks crossed off will give you a sense of accomplishment.
- Stay in touch with co-workers throughout the day. It’s easy to feel isolated and cut off from your environment. Use video chat and technology to stay connected with your tribe. Don’t just use email to communicate.
- Schedule time for lunch and breaks. Go for a short walk to breathe some fresh air.
- Your workday does not go on indefinitely because you’re home.
- What time do you usually leave the office? That’s the time you stop working.
- What is it you do before you leave the office? Do you submit a report, touch base with your supervisor, check to see what you have scheduled for tomorrow? Do the same before you straighten your desk and walk away for the day.
- You’re now finished with work, so go ahead with your evening.
Your first couple of days may be a little challenging. It may even feel like a dance – two steps forward, one step backward – but before you even know it, you’ll be on your way to doing your thing and being really good at it.
When we find ourselves surrounded by chaos and uncertainty, it becomes vital that we keep calm and maintain a sense of normalcy. This is not a time to allow fear and anxiety to have their way with us.
Live your life as best as you can. Use your creativity and your problem solving skills.
Yes, we all need to make adjustments but that shouldn’t weaken us. On the contrary, being flexible and finding the strength to keep going despite the craziness, are life skills we all need and can develop.