Written by Bianca Baldo
Social distancing has changed our lives in so many ways, impacting our interaction with colleagues, families, and our communities. It has also changed the way we do our work. We have all been asked, one way or another, to accept and manage change in our daily lives. For those who are living alone, this change means finding ways to cope with increased solitude when working from your home office. For those with full households, the challenge is to find spaces to concentrate while balancing children, pets, and other family obligations. Although the spectrum of change varies between one person to another, working from home in this new environment requires solutions that prioritize open communication and trust-building, work/life balance, healthy work practices, and let’s not forget- fun. Let’s take a look at some suggestions that have helped me identify and foster work-life balance, mindfulness, self-care, and team building while working from home.
1. REGULAR COMMUNICATION IS KEY.
Daily communication is critical to sustain productivity and to reduce isolation associated with working from home. Planning daily meetings with colleagues will help you stay connected to the outside world while working from your home office. As a manager, you can prioritize trust-building with your online team by fostering regular and honest conversations. These meetings can allow your team to identify personalized best-practices and strategies to achieve work/life balance. With regular communication, your team will continue to reach key deliverables, while respecting the principle that different people will require diverse and inclusive strategies to make this new reality work.
Personally, short weekly check-in meetings with my CEO have helped identify my particular needs as an employee with a disability and a mother of three young children. These meetings continue to offer a space to share any challenges and successes experienced, and voice my concerns and frustrations during the transition. It helped focus on a process that puts my needs at the forefront of any work plan, including workload and time management. I am thankful for those moments and believe that they contributed to my overall wellbeing.
2. WORK/LIFE BALANCE
Identifying a realistic work schedule and deliverables that help you stay on track while promoting life/work balance is never easy. Finding and maintaining your rhythm and motivation from home requires hard work and openness on behalf of management. As we look towards this new reality where social distancing requirements become the new norm, adopting a schedule that works with your family and work-life demands will help you achieve success in the long-term without burnout. For me, this meant taking a morning walk every day with my kids, husband, and dog. Working from home with small children requires structure and lots of patience. Our daily walk allows me to forget deadlines and interruptions, and focus on being in the moment. It seems simple, but it has become a cherished moment where positive memories are formed as a family. It gives me opportunities to ask about their lives and share frustrations. By prioritizing my family during this small window of time, we have become closer. It can also have the added benefit of sharing daily work deliverables with the group while contributing to reduced anxiety for myself and my family that shares the space.
3. MINDFULNESS TOWARDS SELF-CARE.
In all the recent changes, it is hard to think about how to make your office a warm, productive, and safe environment. It is never too late to make your workspace ergonomic. Talking to your manager or team about specialized equipment, while encouraging regular health breaks throughout the day, can reduce work-related injuries. You may also want to consider bringing the outside into your home office. By adding plants to any space, you can help reduce stress, increase productivity, purify the air, and make you happier. For me, I focused on practicing a daily 5 minutes desk yoga session. This prioritizes my wellbeing and increased my concentration, and I look forward to my tasks at hand. It has helped me reduce online fatigue, workload stress, contributing to improving my focus, energy, and ability to cope with increased demands.
4. FUN TEAM ACTIVITIES
Promoting fun activities that foster mindfulness can go a long way towards strengthening your team. Remember that everyone is adjusting to this new environment at the same time in different ways. Allowing space for your team to interact in a fun manner can help build rapport during these transitions. I particularly appreciate Intersol’s Peer-to Peer Learning Café as a way to foster online teamwork. Fun learning activities such as a Zoom Scavenger Hunt, Pictionary, and Apples & Onions gave each member of the team a space to share and update each other on work and personal matters while having fun. I learned about my colleague’s lives, concerns, preoccupations, and best-practices to cope with change management. It also made me feel less isolated from the group.
Working from home in your new work environment can be made easier by prioritizing two-way and team communication, your work/life balance, the mindfulness towards self-care, and providing opportunities for fun and relaxing activities as a team. I have tried to include a few tips that were helpful to me during this changing time; I would love to hear from you about your experience and coping strategies at firstname.lastname@example.org or by sharing your experiences in the comment section below.