By Kyle Hotchkiss
The world around us is changing while one business after another is closing or adjusting operations amid the novel Coronavirus. Casinos are closing, events are being postponed, workers are being laid off, and some of us are being asked to work from home or have chosen to work from home.
Working from home can be an adjustment for those of us who are used to working at the office and operating with several different people and navigating through phone calls and meetings all day. We all know it is much preferable to walk down the hallway to the meeting room to collaborate with coworkers but we simply don’t have that luxury anymore.
The last week working from home has definitely been awkward. I appreciate saving gas and time on the commute, but I really miss those office conversations and being able to collaborate closely with my coworkers on a more personal and accessible level. This is definitely impacting the way our agency operates.
I’ve been changing my method daily and have even done a little homework on how to make this transition a little easier and have found some tips that may help you during this strange time as well.
1. Set Your Hours and Rhythm
You still work the hours you work. No matter what your start and end time was before the COVID-19 quarantine, make sure you stick to it.
Be sure to have a morning rhythm before you start work. Make time self care before you settle into “work-mode” and then end work on time. It is tempting to work past your “quit time” because you don’t leave work to go home. You are already there in both places simultaneously! So it is important to decide when you stop working and stick to it. The evening time is time for you, your family, and to prepare yourself for a new day.
2. Set Boundaries With People Inside and Outside of Your Work Space
Communicate with those who you live with to set some boundaries. Let them know that even though you are home that doesn’t imply you are always available. Tell them between which hours your attention is limited and assure them that they will have your attention and availability after a certain time.
Communication with the outside world will increase naturally as you aren’t seeing your friends, co-workers, or family members as much. Most of them will understand if you aren’t responding every second but if you are in management it might be helpful to set boundaries specifically with your employees. Set a designated place for ongoing conversations like Google Hangouts and let everyone know that phone calls should only be used for training purposes or urgent matters. Delegate certain lines of communication for specific purposes.
3. Work Sprints and Micro-Breaks
A method I stole from one of my coworkers is the idea of working for a focused one hour window and then taking a five-minute break to take a quick breather, grab a drink or snack from the kitchen, or check your Facebook. You’ll be missing all those micro-breaks you used to have in the office talking to coworkers and engaging in casual “chit-chat.” So be sure to take breathers while working hard at home. Sprint through some tasks and then take a break!
4. Don’t Cheat Your Breaks or Lunches
Personally, I am terrible at this. I’ll take a break or “go on lunch” and while I play on my phone I’ll find a call or text I missed from a colleague, an email that needs responding, or a task I forgot to initiate and I’ll find myself struggling to stay on break. But it is very important to take your breaks seriously so you don’t get burnt out, tell yourself you’re honoring your work ethic by giving yourself a well-deserved break to recharge.
5. Go Outside, Breath, Exercise, Meditation…
To expound on honoring your breaks and lunches, there are some productive things you can do on your breaks. It’s a stressful time and there are many hurdles we have to overcome while working from home. So go outside, don’t forget to literally breathe, jump on your treadmill or elliptical to release some stress, maybe practice some mindfulness for five minutes. Call a friend or family member real quick and check up on them during this critical period. You’re at your own home, so take advantage of all the perks you have working there as opposed to the office.
6. Ask For Help
You’re working from home alone but you are not alone. In the age of technology, we can use email, text, phone calls, Facebook messenger, Google Hangouts, Skype, and more to reach out to our co-workers and our extended network to ask for help, so do it! We are all in this together and we are all still there for each other via the internet. So ask for help, delegate tasks, and get advice as needed.
7. Keep In Touch With Your Favorite Coworkers
We aren’t seeing each other in person and a lot of our communication can be work-related but don’t forget to ask them how they are doing and don’t be afraid to partake in the missed “chit-chat” via social media or texting. We can’t enjoy each other in person but we can still enjoy each other in the virtual world.
Communicate, communicate, communicate! Even outside of the Coronavirus quarantine, so many workflow problems come from miscommunication. So over-communicate. You aren’t being annoying; you’re being proactive. This is your job, your business, your livelihood. So don’t let easily avoidable problems affect your workplace just because there was an email, a text, or phone call that should have happened.
Remember, this is a “one day at a time” thing so go out there and keep performing like nothing can stop you or your business from getting through this. After all this ends, we will be geared for a full recovery.