Managing worry while working from home

How are you going with ‘the new normal’?

I have found that working from home one day a week is very different to everyone working from home every day.

On the plus side, our company has managed it very well. Systems were immediately up and running, managers were communicative and helpful, and teams immediately picked up new ways to keep connected and communicate. An immediate advantage I’ve found is that everyone now has their Skype/Teams/Slack switched on and it’s a bit easier to tell when someone is available or not.

On the other hand, remote work as default is a bit weird. Technology teams are likely to adjust fairly easily and many workers even welcome the change.

https://www.mamamia.com.au/coronavirus-working-from-home-meme/

But even if you’re one of those happy WFH people, you might find yourself feeling a bit anxious or isolated when doing it every day. Especially in these strange times.

Here are some of my thoughts while working from home:

  • Am I doing enough?
  • Am I managing [whatever] right?
  • Is everyone else talking to each other more?
  • Are we more productive or less or the same?
  • What will this look like if it goes on longer than a couple of months? Is that even possible?
  • Should I schedule this meeting on free Zoom or ask my boss for the work Zoom so we can go over 40 minutes? Should ANY meeting go over 40 minutes? Ugh of course some have to, that’s just dumb. Am I over-thinking this?? (yes)
  • How long can this go on before everyone loses their jobs?
  • It’s going to be so weird and upsetting for our dogs when we all go back to work
  • Where is the desk I ordered four weeks ago?? (Answer: it got lost; I’ve been refunded; there are now no desks to be had)

Feelings:

  • Feeling guilty I let my teenagers sleep until 1pm because it’s easier
  • Feeling immensely thankful my kids are teenagers and coping well
  • Feeling grateful and lucky that we’re all healthy and OK
  • Feeling ashamed I am actually enjoying this way of life while others are anxious/struggling/sick/etc
  • Worried about the cafes we frequented in the city. Will they all be OK?
  • Wishing I had a dedicated home office
  • Realising most people don’t have a dedicated home office
  • Enjoying the constant birdsong outside my window
  • Loving the no commute
  • Loving early dinners and longer evenings with the family
  • Liking the constant company of my pets

Working from home is great but it can be logistically challenging, sometimes isolating, and it can make it harder to seperate work and personal life and feelings.

Here are some things that I find make it better:

Dress for comfort

A good point made by Patrice Embry at The Digital PM: take advantage of the perks. Forget that stuff about ‘you have to dress professionally to be professional’. If you don’t have to and you don’t want to, then don’t. Casual stuff is fine. Look presentable, be comfortable.

Maintain connections

Most people are probably having daily check-ins with their teams at start and/or end of each day. And of course you have your daily meetings and calls. But you can and should also schedule “virtual coffee” or Zoom chats with friends or colleagues for a quick break.

Exercise

I do a morning walk every day before starting work. Until recently, I was getting in the car, driving somewhere nice and walking. Now due to stricter isolation rules (although a short drive to somewhere for exercise is still allowed), I am walking around our suburb. Not as nice, but still nice.

I also have to walk our dog every day so I take him for a short walk at lunchtime, and I do some stretches and weights every second day too. Other days I just chill after my walk.

Make your work space nice

Look, I’ll be honest, this one is not much of an option for me. I’m working from our kitchen table, and I try to keep the whole area as clean and clear as possible, but there’s only so much that can be done.

I keep my stationery and notebook in a box and put that and the monitor in a cupboard at the end of each day. I would like a small desk I can just keep everything on instead, because unpacking and packing up everything each day is a bit of a pain. But for now my kitchen table is working okay.

A colleague has added house plants to her desk which looks nice.

Here is another idea:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Accept some disruption

Most workplaces understand the fact you have kids/pets/parents/urgent tasks to take care of while you’re working. As long as everyone is respectful of each other and of their work, we should be good.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Take breaks

Block out a lunch break in your work systems so people know you’re not online. Take that break. On days you can’t take a full lunch break, block out smaller breaks and take them.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Take advantage of the no commute

Exercise, have a leisurely breakfast, enjoy a rest after work. Or wrangle your kids/laundry etc. At least the chores can be finished earlier than usual!

Most importantly: switch off when the work day is over.

No work on evenings or weekends!

@washingtonpost

𝐈𝐭 𝐒𝐬 𝐭𝐒𝐦𝐞. ##tigerking

♬ Lion King – reggiefisher15
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