It’s a blessing and a curse. Managers and owners insisted it could not be done. Categorically no, can’t be done. Then COVID hit, and poof, like magic we were working from home, no questions, just instant compliance.
Now, I know not everyone can be counted on to perform when the beady eye of the boss is not falling directly on them, but let’s be honest – most grown-ups can do their jobs, especially if they are good jobs and you have team buy-in.
But working from home can present its challenges too. Where’s the door to close and lock at 5:00 and on the weekend? Will my phone never stop pinging? How much equipment do I need to be professional and organized? These days, a computer seems to be enough. But then there are all the extra files, the knowledge that Steve down the hall has, and a myriad small things that make up an office space.
Here are some tips for keeping on track at home:
- Make sure your tech and connection are up to snuff. Think about the level of security you need. Is this something you have to pony up for or will the company cover it? Even if they pay for it, it can be a hassle to have everything upgraded. You’ll likely also be doing some conferencing together in large or small numbers. The managers will likely select the platform. Bone up on these so you don’t feel lost or waste time trying to figure out the controls.
- Be clear on the expectations. People can have trouble working from home and either slack off or give it way too much. If it is not clear what is required of you, you can feel lost and flounder while trying your hardest to get things done. You can get caught doing busy work from home too, or you get so engrossed in work that you forget to take stretch breaks, coffee breaks and lunch. Knowing what is expected allows you to build your framework.
- Trust. This is a great time for managers to see what their staff is made of. It’s also a good time for associates to see whether they are trusted to do their work. Or not. If you have the feeling that the reporting has got out of hand on what your daily tasks are comprised of, you may feel undermined and as though the company has zero trust in you as a valued employee. If you’re not sure, keep a private log of your daily work activities.
Keeping your health and sanity at home.
- Be very careful with your ergonomics. These days many people have some form of ergonomic assessment offered at their workplace, with the right chair, the right desk height, lighting, position of equipment, etc. But suddenly being transposed to their home environment, many people are throwing postural caution to the wind. Neck and shoulder strain, and tension headaches easily result from these three to six months of working from home. BU Today has some excellent ergonomic advice.
- Know your hours and clock out on time. Despite everyone worrying whether employees will be slacking off, it’s more likely that you will over-do things and work too long, and probably too hard. Now is the time to create firm boundaries around your work, especially when it’s staring at you from the dining room table in the evening or on weekends. Tidy your desk and put a symbolic cover over it (or a real one).
- Remember your good stress habits. Take those stretch breaks. While we may feel guilty getting up from our desk to change a load of laundry, count this as a movement break. You can mull over a problem while you are sorting your colours. Often we can be much more productive at home. Make your work hours count, so that your leisure time counts too.
And remember, do you live to work, or work to live?
Re-frame your priorities, even though your work has recently barged into your home. Keep good boundaries around work and home, so your responsibilities don’t run riot over your private life. When you are able to break cleanly from work, in the evenings and on weekends, you can return to it renewed and with greater creativity in your problem solving.
By relaxing fully in your time off, you are caring for your work life by infusing it with the energy and enthusiasm that comes from rest.