Indrani Stangl, M.A.
Tips for Working From Home
The pandemic is here, and it has dramatically changed the way we work. If you usually work at a 9-5 office job, you are likely doing your work from home. For some this is a welcome change, for others, not so much. Regardless of how you feel about it, this is the new reality, and it is important to manage your work proactively so that things go as smoothly as they can. I have rounded up these tips to help.
If you have found yourself in the unfortunately and stressful situation where you are laid off, or worried about being laid off, this could be the time to regroup. I will be happy to offer you a free consult to see where you can go from here, just fill out the contact form and we will be in touch as soon as possible.
Working from home probably requires more bandwidth than you normally use to browse the internet and look at Facebook. Plus, if your partner and kids are home as well, you will need to upgrade your ISP services so that your network can handle everyone on at once. Video conferencing can crash if you don’t have a strong enough connection. Since you are required to work from home, your employer may pay for the increased cost and loan equipment to you (computer, monitor, camera etc.) to use during the shelter in place order. Check in with your work group to see how best you can all stay in touch and keep up to speed. There are many options such a Zoom, G-Chat, Slack and Google Docs.
Just because you are at physically at home, doesn’t mean you are available to do all the things you usually do. Being on video calls when people are coming and going can be distracting and seemingly unprofessional. Share your schedule with your family and tell them when you need privacy/quiet during critical moments throughout the day. Have your family or roommates send you an email or text message if they have a question as opposed to barging in during the middle of your workday.
With daycares and school shuttered across the country, ff you have school-aged children, they are probably at home with you. Your child’s school has likely posted online curricula and templates for homeschooling for the time being. Check out this Parent Quick-Start Guide from the Khan Academy for some other tips. This is not the time to feel guilty if you have to plunk your kids down in front of the TV here and there. You can help them make good choices – cooking shows, nature documentaries and educational shows are all available throughout the day. Arrange virtual playdates and group homework sessions so that your kids don’t feel socially isolated. It’s an emotional time and your kids may be feeling stressed out too. Be gentle with them and take care to be gentle on yourself as well. If you need some extra accommodations from your employer, be sure to explain your situation and consider asking for a flex schedule so you can do some of your work when your kids are napping or after they go to bed.
Managing expectations with your supervisor is a critical task. Even if your job is easily done from a remote location, logistics and communication methods will be dramatically different. The bottom line is that things won’t be the same, and no one should expect them to be. If you are used to having face-to-face 1:1 meetings with your boss, you should continue to do so online. If you find something is not working for you, make sure you express your concerns early on.
Even if you can work in your pajamas, don’t do it. Getting ready for the workday like you normally would will help you remain professional throughout the day. Also, you will be ready for pop-up video calls with your boss. If you don’t have a home office, or your partner is using it, set up a small section of a bedroom as your own workspace. This will keep you away from the center of the house and separated from the dirty dishes or laundry that may call your name when you are trying to get work done. Remember to take breaks and stay hydrated. Schedule an hour for lunch and a couple 15-minute breaks throughout the day to stand up and stretch your legs or get some fresh air. Be sure to shut down your computer when you would normally leave your office to head home.
You may be uncomfortable seeing yourself on camera, as many people are. However, you should try to get used to it. Conference voice-only calls are confusing and frustrating – you cannot always tell who is talking, people interrupt each other, and things can take a downward spiral quickly. With video you will see your colleagues and there will be less chance for misunderstandings. You will also be able to see facial cues and non-verbal communication that you would miss if you are just on a phone call.
You may miss the camaraderie and chit-chat that you normally experience in an office setting. Keep traditions up – if you normally have lunch with an office buddy on Wednesdays, do it together virtually. Have a virtual happy hour on a Friday with your favorite people.
Some people are saying life as we know it is changing. It’s important to stay optimistic and hopeful because we are all in this together. Stay safe and healthy. Let me know if I can help you in any way.