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BlogWorkplace Experience

Living and Working Remotely, Together

Getting things done when everyone is under one roof.

If you’re anything like me, you can’t help but stay glued to the news; with a global pandemic, it seems essential to be aware of the ever-evolving situation. However, focusing on the tremendous amount of “this-just-in” news, has led many to feelings of anxiety and pressure; magnified as we’re thrown into an alternate version of our daily life.

I’m fortunate to work for a forward-thinking company that focuses on workplace experience in a multitude of ways, including remote work. For the past eight years or so, I’ve worked at least some of my workdays remotely — whether at home or at a co-working location. Yet, even with all of that experience working from home, this is different. My go-to routine doesn’t work quite the same. Suddenly my work world and my home world have been intimately intertwined — and we are all trying to get some sense of order in our new (temporary) normal.

With all of this in mind, here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Be patient with yourself, your team/boss, your family. This is new to them, too. Even those of us who have been remotely working for years haven’t had to do so with our partner also at home, or our children’s daycare/school closed.
  2. Consider realistic time blocks to accomplish tasks, then build in realistic “unexpected interruption” time. There have been many schedules floating around for helping with your school-aged children, but that might not be practical. Let yourself off the hook and think in time blocks/activities rather than set times. Re-framing your mindset to what is reasonable will reduce the stress of keeping up with a schedule.
  3. Be flexible in your desk setup/location — move around as needed to better hear a call, etc. In my home, we have a home office…but it is no longer just mine as my husband is now home and needs more monitor space. So, I work at a table in the living room. For some conference calls I may have to move to the basement. If you’re able to move around and still get things done, go for it — it will break up the day and allow others to feel that they’re not infringing on your work space.
  4. Take breaks often. I can’t stress this enough. When we’re at home, sometimes we feel that a missed call or email indicates that we’re not doing the job. This is a complete fallacy with remote work (consider in contrast when in-office folks don’t clock their time getting a coffee. It often takes longer than they think.) Let’s trust that we’re all doing our best to get the work done — after all, that’s the whole point of a job. And if things aren’t getting done, there are plenty of resources to help develop and communicate deliverable-based expectations and course correct.
  5. Get outside. The one, small silver lining in the timing of this crisis is that the weather is about to get warmer and greener. Spring is right around the corner and sunshine will feed your soul. Maybe take a walk during one of your breaks, or at the end of your workday. This is also a good time to purposely connect with your fellow social isolation-mates.
  6. Incorporate the things you enjoy doing at home into your workday. The delineation between work and home is blurring — we might as well take advantage of it. Add in things that brighten your day, whether it is baking something or getting a quick house project done that has been bugging you. We’ll all feel better if we aren’t spending half our day stressed about the housework we can see not getting done, and the other half stressed about staying visible online.

Maybe if we all try to incorporate some of these practices into our day, we’ll notice the slower pace isn’t so bad. There’s room for connection. There’s room for us. We will come back from this more resilient to stress because we’ll have felt the support of our colleagues. We will feel more thankful for our families because they were our entertainment and community during seclusion. And, we’ll be more prepared to attempt the unknown future because we will have seen ourselves through an unfathomable situation. This is what we are working towards and what we all need to remember. We will get there, hopefully soon; and, hopefully with some new skills for managing and appreciating all facets of our lives.