Working From Home – The New Normal
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Robert Kelly. If that name isn’t immediately familiar to you, cast your mind back to 2017 when a live BBC interview with American academic, Robert Kelly, went hilariously wrong. The professor was part-way through the interview when his children gatecrashed his home office, becoming instant internet gold.
So why am I, three years later, thinking back to that moment? Well, in recent months, due to the spread of Covid-19, a significant portion of the population is now working from home. And that moment with Robert Kelly and his family, a moment of home-working gone awry, is being felt on a real, personal level throughout the world.
With more and more of us social distancing and being placed in isolation, working out of your living room or kitchen or bedroom has become the new normal. So how do we keep our heads amidst the often chaotic world of the home office, making sure we take care of ourselves, our space and our loved ones, whilst still maintaining a level of professionalism? Here are some top tips for working from home.
Usually the last stage, here it comes first. At the moment the world is an uncertain place. The phrase du jour is ‘unprecedented times.’ That means that no one has got it totally figured out. Everyone is muddling their way through the multiple video conferencing apps, the exhaustive news coverage while simultaneously juggling their personal relationships. So give yourself a break. Self-care has never been so important. No one is expecting perfection. No one is expecting you to become a working from home machine. We’re all just doing our best. And that’s all we can do.
You may live in a sprawling mansion or a small studio apartment. Either way, it’s important to carve out some dedicated space when you’re working from home. If you have multiple rooms, this might mean creating your own home office (if you don’t already have one). If you have a smaller space, then organisation is key, making sure to store your work paraphernalia away at the end of the day. You may be working from home but you can still separate your job from your home life. Creating a division between work space and living/relaxation space using some cleaver decor can give you the distance to rest and recuperate.
An Open Mind
As I mentioned earlier, we are all finding ourselves in uncharted territory. Working from home has taken on a new meaning in the past few months. But rather than forging ahead through this unfamiliar terrain, it might be worth your while to stop and take a look around you. The rise in video conferencing has meant that we have a unique insight into the lives of our co-workers, what their homes look like, what their families / pets are like. How they deal with crises.
Louise Myson, Culture and Leadership Consultant at Coode Associates says that “these are probably some of the most ‘human’ interactions you ever have with your colleagues – a chance to see a snapshot of their everyday lives and more of the whole person. I think it may build stronger relationships on the flip-side if we can remember some of that.” Indeed, this kind of personal insight and human connection is valuable and all-too-often overlooked in the modern-day office. What you take away from these observations could be truly transformative in how you nurture a workplace culture and create a space for talent to flourish.
There have been many pieces written about the importance of routine in our daily lives. Never has this been more true than at the current time. Routine when we’re working from home helps to ground us, to connect us to something certain amidst all the uncertainty. A routine can be as simple as structuring your work day around breaks and then making sure you relax in the evenings and try to get a good night’s sleep.
You might also add in a daily exercise regime and other self-care activities like yoga and meditation. Keeping in close contact with work colleagues also helps maintain a sense of connection and community. A daily check-in with members of your team, asking non-work-related questions can help with the loneliness and disconnection we might feel during this time.
As well as co-workers, it’s also important to connect with friends and loved ones, through a phone call or through one of the video chat apps. These relationships are really important in anchoring us and reinvigorating us for our work.
Create a routine that’s right for you and anyone else you might be sharing your space with. Again, just do your best and be kind to yourself. And remember that we’re all in this together.