Working From Home: Embracing the “New Normal”

Welcome to Week… wait… Four…? Fourteen…? whatever… of ‘Stay at Home’ orders stemming from the Coronavirus. All kidding aside, I do hope you, your families, and your loved ones are all safe and healthy. Our prayers are with everyone who has been impacted by this horrible pandemic and we continue to hope for a speedy resolution to this situation.

Speaking with friends and former colleagues, so many were excited about the opportunity to Work From Home. “I can’t imagine how comfortable I’ll be” or “I’ll be able to roll out of bed, make my coffee, and start working right away”, all the way to, “Well, I probably can get away with only working a couple hours a day”. Genuinely, considering the faltering economy that appears to be plummeting quickly towards a deep recession, even a full on depression, I would strongly advise against the last approach I heard. Alas, I can certainly understand the joy that comes with rolling out of bed, brewing that morning cup of joe, and sitting down to your laptop or tablet without having to spend an hour or more getting ready, only to fight morning rush hour traffic.

I checked in with the same friends and colleagues last week, and needless to say, I wasn’t necessarily surprised by their reactions. “I can’t wait to get out of my house again”, “My children make having a Zoom meeting impossible”, “My home is NEVER quiet – ever”, or my favorite “I have never been so distracted in my life, so much so I’m actually beginning to appreciate my office at work”. After resisting the urge to scream, “I told you so” into the phone, I proceeded to help my friends with some key ideas to make Working From Home (or ‘WFH’ as it is often abbreviated) a bit more successful, less stressful, and more conducive to productive hours of work. My colleges encouraged me to write about these in the hopes they would help others- including you.

For the record, myself and my entire team works remotely, all of us working from our home offices, with regular travel to Client offices when necessary. As we are located in different geographic areas throughout the world, we have worked diligently to bridge these gaps while delivering quality products and deliverables for our Clients. Now, I make no guarantees any of these will work for you, but should you give them a try, I promise you will find some relief in even small portions of these suggestions. Without further a-do…

1.  Create a Space Dedicated For Work

Think about your daily work routine. Don’t most all of us go to the same space every single day to conduct our business? Why should ‘Working from Home’ be any different. In your home, find a place where you may consistently go to complete your work and meet with coworkers. If at all possible, this place should be:

  • Well-lit (preferably with natural light)
  • Low noise levels, optimally with door(s) to close (should others in your home become too loud while you’re working)
  • Have comfortable seating where you will be able to spend long hours during the day
  • An acceptable background, especially for those inevitable Web Conference Meetings (where your coworkers won’t be able to see the pile of dirty dishes in your sink)

2.  Create & Follow A Daily Routine

While I understand you don’t have to wake up quite as early to get dressed and ready for work, nor negotiate your morning commute, it is still important to follow a routine.

  • Pick a time to wake up where you can still wake, take a shower, brush your teeth, put on acceptable clothes, and eat a proper breakfast. Once done, begin your work day. Wake up at the same time consistently every work day.
  • Take planned breaks throughout your day where you walk away from your work space, even if only for ten to fifteen minutes.
  • Step away for lunch like you would at work – do not fall victim to eating lunch at your desk in an attempt to ‘get ahead’.
  • Conclude your work day at approximately the same time every day, allowing time to spend with your loved ones.

3.  Communicate Your Work Hours To People In Your Home

The people who live in your home are likely very happy you’re home with them. You’re safe from the outside world while still employed (which is more than a lot of people right now). That said, there is a good chance they’ll be knowingly or unknowingly invading your designated work space throughout the day. Set boundaries. Communicate the hours you will be ‘working’ and work to kindly enforce those boundaries, letting your family and loved ones know how important it is for you to continue to do excellent work especially during these difficult conditions.

4.  Leverage Additional Tools to Help Make You More Productive

For many, our offices had additional productivity tools we do not have in a home environment. Considering there is the potential for a long runway before businesses will re-open throughout the country, there are several items you may want to consider purchasing to help maintain your personal health and sanity throughout your work day.

5.  Go Outside

While you may be thinking this is trivial and blatantly obvious, you’d be surprised how many days will go by where you will be sucked into your work from sun up to sun down and never make time to set foot outside the four walls of your home. Make sure you take at least fifteen minutes a day to go for a walk during daylight hours. Your body requires Vitamin D, which you receive from the sun, in order to assist in stabilizing mood, eliminating stress, and generally making you feel better. Do not discount this – it is critically important.

6.  Exercise Regularly

Again, I get it – your local gym is more than likely closed. You pay good money every month so you don’t have purchase and store exercise equipment in your home. And now, you’re at a loss. Fear not! If you are genuinely not a person who goes to the local gym or workout studio on the regular, make sure you are getting outside three to four times a week for a brisk, thirty minute walk.

For those of you who are more the ‘gym rat’ (or want to be), you’re also in luck. Bodyweight exercises are easy ways for you to maintain your physical fitness as we wait for these closure orders to be lifted. To help you with the variety of your exercises while maintaining proper form, I would strongly suggest Solid Rock Training’s Virtual Workout Program. At $99 per month, they offer Daily Live Workouts with live coaching through Zoom, pre-recorded on-demand workouts, standard or custom nutrition plans, and a community of people second-to-none in maintaining and driving accountability and fun! 

Check them out here: https://www.teamsolidrocktraining.com

7.  Socialize With Others However Possible

Pick up a phone and call friends or family. FaceTime with people to have the closest ‘friendly interaction’ possible during these times of social distancing. Spend time sitting on a front porch or in your driveway and watch people go by – say hello, make light conversation from afar. These interactions are important – human contact is important. Do not underestimate the value of simply speaking with other people – it will go a long way in stabilizing you mentally and emotionally.

8.  Regularly Evaluate Your Mental State

There is absolutely no shame in admitting you are lonely, disconnected, or even depressed stemming from the lack of personal connection and fear associated with this pandemic. 

TALK TO SOMEONE.  REACH OUT.  DO NOT BE AFRAID OR ASHAMED.  

IT IS NORMAL TO FEEL THIS WAY. 

There are professionals who know how to help you and are ready and willing to do so. Do not wait for tomorrow – now is the time.  Contact the National Helpline for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Lastly, the most important element to remember is: This will pass. While this is a horrible situation and has impacted the lives of so many, including the loss of tens of thousands of souls, we will survive. There will be a day in our future where we will be able to return to ‘Life as Normal’ – new measures will be in place to prevent a resurfacing of this virus. Or, more hopefully, a vaccine will be created to eradicate it completely.

Keep your eyes on the future. Know this will pass. Know you’re strong enough to move past this and a better tomorrow is out there. In the meantime – stay safe, stay vigilant, and may you enjoy this opportunity to be home with your loved ones!

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