With all that has changed over the past weeks, one of the biggest changes has been the people, or the lack thereof.
As I look around me I am now surrounded by “co-workers” (my family) that are completely new to my space and my habits. To my left, I have a new manager who is encroaching on my workspace with his 2 gigantic monitors and seems to have no regard for the fact that he is sucking up all of my needed bandwidth. The co-worker to my right is a habitual snacker who keeps a messy workspace and is constantly shifting in her seat or making noises. Seated across from me is a rather OCD employee with an obsession with keeping her work area tidy, while the other has her things laid haphazardly about without a care as to what belongs to whom.
This is the new normal.
Working from home while we are social distancing has its difficulties. Juggling five people that are all in need of space and a share of the internet has its challenges. While many are posting about their perfect homeschool plans (because kids need normalcy) or their new-found freedom (because kids should be kids), we are over here merely trying to find our balance.
At the end of the day, I think the most important thing is that we allow ourselves the grace to make decisions that best work for our families. It is great to say you aren’t homeschooling because kids should be kids. However, my guess is that you don’t have an unmotivated teenager in your house that hasn’t left the couch for 3 days. It is amazing if you can share out the perfect homeschool plan, but keep in mind that some families have kids dealing with anxiety that is through the roof right now. Those kids just need to be loved and supported.
The novelty of what is happening in our world has all of us navigating some uncharted waters.
So I would like to offer up 5 tips that seem to be helping us adapt to this newfound way of life, keeping in mind the following: you do you.
Create a space
The quickest way to establish a routine and minimize excuses when working from home is to establish a workspace. By creating boundaries for who can enter, and when, interruptions can be minimized. My new co-workers (aka: my husband + children) are in my workspace. I don’t mind this as I can help them stick to their schedule,s which better helps me stick to mine. Everyone must ask permission before entering another co-worker’s “cubical.”
Devise a Human Resources department
I am the HR department and HR keeps very limited hours. Plus, all formal complaints must be submitted in writing. If it isn’t worth their time to write it down, it isn’t worth filing a complaint. Complaints are reconciled within 24 hours, so my children think strongly if it is worth filing their complaint or if it can be reconciled civilly among their co-workers. Creating an HR department worked wonders for our productivity and communications building.
Establish a schedule for the workday
Zoom or conference calls take top priority of workflow space right now. If it is clear that a manager is in a conference call that can’t be muted, all non-managing employees must take “creative leave.” Take the dog for a walk, go play basketball, play in the basement– whatever it is that will give them a break from the current workflow, and a bonus if it supplies a dose of vitamin D.
The most important part of our daily schedule? Stop working at the same time each day. It can be tempting to just finish one last thing. Don’t. Your children and your sanity will thank you.
Dress the part
As tempting as it is to stay in PJ’s all day, we still need to maintain some sort of normalcy when working from home. Perhaps this is merely an upgrade to sweats or yoga pants, but M-F there needs to be a change of clothing and an obvious effort in hygiene in our house. Teeth still need to be brushed, hair still needs combing, deodorant still needs to be applied.
Be on the lookout for opportunities
There are so many advantages to working from home: casual dress, no commute, flexible schedules. I love that I can throw in a load of laundry or start dinner, and most importantly, spend time with my kids. Don’t let work overshadow the novelty of this chapter of your story. A 30-minute walk around the neighborhood with your kids over the lunch hour can lead to a far more productive afternoon for everyone.
Cheers to you from afar, friends. May you find amazing opportunities for connection while we social distance.
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