STAYING CONNECTED DURING SOCIAL DISTANCING AND WORKING AT HOME
“How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world” Anne Frank
Staying connected and motivated when we are working from home can be difficult. We may be less productive as we adapt to the new environment. We may feel cloistered. Social isolation can exacerbate feelings of guilt, anxiety, stress, conflict. Working at home with children can be especially challenging adding more pressure for our time. Living arrangements may make it difficult to find space to work.
The rhythm of work and social interaction is different. We are getting used to social distancing, virtual conferences and team meetings. Sometimes it may feel like we are connecting too much. It takes too much time. At other times we may lack connecting regularly or the platform is not right. We may miss the ad hoc informal contact with our work colleagues. There may be feelings of guilt when we take a lunch break or go for a walk during work hours. Family life is no longer easily separated from our work. We worry about elderly relatives, friends, children and making time for the things that matter.
The people around us are our greatest asset and valuing them and the contribution they can bring is one way we can build a supportive environment during change. Not everyone is in the same situation as us. Their personal situations differ. What motivates them may be different. How they live may be different. Finding common ground, showing understanding and empathy for others, Check-in regularly with work colleagues, your friends, relatives and those in your local community just to say hello and “R U OK”. Asking how they are going creates a sense of belonging especially for people you know who live alone. The longer-term effects of social isolation may lead to mental health and well-being issues. Be part of the solution for others and not the problem. Take the time to be more deliberate and plan your engagements.
Experiment with different virtual platforms such as Team Meetings, zoom, skype, Face Time to find out what suits your needs. Ensure that the security of the platform you use is appropriate to the type of work and social engagement you need. Social gatherings work well on Zoom, Skype or Face Time. Work meetings where you can safely share material, that have a platform allowing more than 10 people and for longer than an hour.
Set a routine for the day: for example, rising earlier you can get in a couple of hours of work in before the children wake up or give yourself essential alone time exercising or meditating; having a set start time and finish time for work partitions your day.
Creating a dedicated work space: separates you from where you might share family or recreational activities. If you have to share a workspace have a roster. Evening work may be an option if you need to help children with schoolwork during the day in the same workspace.
Get your technology right: if your connections are too slow or you do not have a printer this can limit productivity and create stress. Arrange to have your needs met by your employer.
Be flexible: time with our children may be more necessary in the mornings due to homework. We no longer have to commute to work and this gives us more time in the morning, before breakfast. Make time for interruptions and make up the time in the evening.
Building work and personal/family routine that is flexible and responsive to others is the key to successfully moving from surviving at home to thriving on the new opportunities working from home offers. Try it and see.