WFH: Adjusting to the New Reality
In the midst of the worldwide pandemic we're each now navigating, we are obviously in uncharted waters in all aspects of our lives. Professionally, nearly every one of us is now working from home (WFH) full time. Though many folks have long WFH'd one day per week or on occasion, it’s a very different thing to become a full-time remote worker. Some of you are adapting to very new ways of working that might at times feel awkward. Here's some tips from those who have been doing the WFH thing for years.
- Routine. As much as you can, try to maintain a normal routine. That means starting the day on time, getting ready for work as you normally would. You might not be dressing up like you would for the office, but there’s mental value to the whole “getting ready” routine. If you wake up and immediately hit the laptop to start into emails, you don’t get that important ramp-up/ramp-down time in your day. Take breaks as you normally would. It’s not uncommon to find yourself sitting in front of the screen nearly nonstop all day long without any meaningful time away. Take time to be healthy despite a more sedentary lifestyle than which you might normally enjoy.
- Workspace. Try to use a space that is exclusively (as much as is reasonable) used for work. This helps your mind subconsciously know when it’s work time vs rest time. When you’re there, you’re working; when you’re out, you’re not working. Working, for example, in your bedroom, leads to spending 20+ hours per day in one room and can be mentally taxing. It’s also hard for your mind to let go when you’re trying to sleep. Break up your spaces if you can.
- Cameras! You’re going to have A TON of remote meetings. These meetings get so boring when everyone shows up as a generic black box in the participant list. Peel the tape off your laptop camera and make a concerted effort as a team to use them consistently. Camera use culturally draws together teams that otherwise feel far apart. As your WFH sojourn gets longer, having that level of personal interaction matters more and more. No worries if your kids come into the room from time to time or your background isn't beautiful. Life happens for each of us and we need not hide it.
- Fun. At times you may grow to feel that you’re all alone even though you’re interacting all day with folks. We fall into the rut of the subject of the given meeting without seeing beyond. Take time to pal around with your team. Sharing “water cooler” commentary including personal happenings, jokes, memes, and even appropriate insults can help bond a remote team together. It also helps a team to blow off steam in an otherwise stressful time. Don’t overlook or undervalue this time.