- Apr 7, 2020
As we write this, we have each sequestered ourselves from the chaos around us. The kids running around the house. The spouse on conference calls all day. The dog jumping up to see our screen. OK that one isn’t so bad. Is this “the new normal”?
We’ve been forced to get comfortable with these distractions or, for some, the isolation. This might be “the new normal” for us and some of our colleagues, but there are people out there who have been perfecting the art of working from home for decades. So, we did some digging. What is the secret to being productive (and maintaining your sanity) while working from home?
Maintain Regular Hours
For some of us it might be hard to turn the computer off at the end of the day. Just because you don’t need to rush out the door to get to day care or some other personal commitment, doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a separation between work and home life. Try to stick to a schedule, knowing that you can be flexible to the evolving needs of your job.
Have a Designated Work Space
This work space should be well lit, ergonomic and separate from your leisure space. Make the space feel like yours. Set up picture frames, plants, or even a pile of post-its. Treat your space like you would your desk at the office.
Before COVID-19 we weren’t waking up and going straight to our desk, so why start now? Do you enjoy listening to a podcast on your commute to work? Don’t let working from home take that away from you. Get up and go for a walk around your neighborhood while listening to your podcast before you start your day.
At the office we’re used to taking unplanned breaks. Your coworker stops by your desk to chat about your weekends. You get up to fill your water bottle and you run into five people along the way. While working from home, we must be more conscious about taking breaks. Step away from your computer to eat lunch or take a 15-minute walk around the block to clear your head.
Connect with Colleagues
Create opportunities to engage with colleagues, specifically those extroverts out there! For example, our Baltimore office has set up a Zoom call for employees to do virtual stretch and flex together each morning. Not a morning person? You can host virtual lunches or happy hours to stay engaged with your team or colleagues.
Whether you’re working in the office, at a job site or from home, the lack of social interaction at this time can be very lonely. Try playing soothing music while working, take some down time during your work breaks and get outside for some exercise or practice a hobby.
It’s important that you take time to focus on doing things that help maintain positive mental health. If you’re feeling down, talk to someone. Check to see if your company, like Gilbane, offers virtual mental health visits through your medical plan. Virtual mental healthcare provides you access to therapists and psychiatrists at night and on weekends for support without leaving your home.
Set Boundaries and Expectations
Establish ground rules for taking conference calls, making lunches, quiet time, etc. with those who are sharing your space. This will help eliminate distractions and open the lines of communication, so issues don’t develop.
And for the parents out there, keep kids busy
There are a lot of resources out there for working from home parents. You can take shifts with your partner or set up a craft to occupy your kids for 30 minutes. At Gilbane, we have an Employee Assistance Program hotline where employees can call to discuss any challenges you may be having with care giving and request resources such as finding childcare.
This “new normal” is a learning process for all of us – just remember to celebrate the tiny victories.