Working Remotely From Home During Coronavirus
At this point, odds are good that the coronavirus is affecting your work life, and you may be working from home, if you aren’t already. The world’s professional landscape is rapidly changing and we are all adjusting to our new norm.
Yi and I have spent the last few years as "remote workers" running See ROSE Go from our homes and have been able to grow our brand while juggling kids and work from home responsibilities. We have gone through plenty of “what NOT to do,” in order to find our best practice. Here are 6 hacks to help ease the transition to being part of the work-at-home population (now also helping teach kids at home) while preserving your sanity:
1. Maintain some normalcy.
By now, you’re likely craving some normalcy in your schedule. You can build it for yourself. As tempting as it is to stay in your PJs full-time, get up and get ready like you are leaving the house. The process of taking a shower and preparing for the day as if you’re leaving helps get into the work mindset. Even an effortless comfy outfit can make a difference in setting up your routine for the day.
2. Create a dedicated workspace for everyone at home.
After a year of trying to multi-purpose her kitchen table - co-founder Erin Cavanaugh says, “Between work, kid's homework, crafts, and meals, it was too much on one space. A friend who is an interior design created my own space and once I sat down in my little haven, I was actually in tears, not realizing how much I missed having it.” Erin adds, “I’m still in the kitchen and connected to the family but it helps me having a physical separation of work and home.” A dedicated home office space is also helpful for video conferencing with co-workers or clients on video chat / video conference platforms such as Slack, Teams or Zoom. Whether in an area of the living room or spare bedroom, it’s beneficial to have clean space where you know the wi-fi is strong, the background is professional and lighting is sufficient for your remote working and if relevant, remote employee needs.
In addition, set up dedicated school space for the kids to own for the same reasons. They need the routine maybe even more than adults. “Learning as we go, but so far the kids have responded better to having a school zone. It’s helping with focus for both of us.” says Yi Zhou Co-founder and Chief Creative at See ROSE Go.” They also need video conferencing space. Every morning at 10 AM is their class meeting! Our apartment is now a fully functional coworking space.”
3. Share your context!
“When we started See ROSE Go, I had a seven-month old at home and now our newest addition, Tommy, is four months. Right off the bat, I acknowledge on calls that I’m working from home and apologize for the distractions. I’ve only once had a person negatively comment, which actually helped me decide we wouldn’t be a fit to partner moving forward,” says Erin.
The person on the other end will be understanding, especially in the context of our current climate here in the United States and globally. We all need to extend more compassion and empathy than usual for each other’s situations. Many people will find themselves navigating new responsibilities during the day and should be understanding of where you are coming from.
4. Identify your time management needs
It’s easy to think there will be too many distractions at home. In the end, it may even out to be the same as when you are in the office - think about the people popping by with that omnipresent question, “Hey, got a minute?” the hallway conversations en route to the bathroom and the coffee run. It all evens out in the end.
If you have concerns with being accountable, Erin adds, “I like to review my calendar and company roadmap each morning. From there, I create a good old fashion to-do list, then work them into my calendar for the day with appropriate time to complete. Even time for checking email. I remain adaptable, but this help me look back at the end of my day and see what remains a priority to be done that day or what can be moved to tomorrow.”
5. Be present
“This was a HUGE learning for me personally. I was trying to do everything at once,” says Erin. “This might seem simple but helping with homework during a conference call … it does not work. I thought I had to be working on the business all the time, even during family time.” The takeaway is to be fully present in your current activity. That means if it’s morning, and the kids are getting ready for home-school during school closures, then you’re 100% doing that right now. If it’s time to have a team conference call, its 100% time for that. It is easier said than done right now, that’s where #3 Share your Context comes in! So maybe 99% into that conference call!”
Work is always trying to sneak in there, it can be very difficult to separate the two. Erin says, “Now I find myself being really conscious of this. When I’m playing with my daughter, I’m fully present (physically and emotionally) doing just that – trying not to think about work, etc. But it has taken me a long time to practice this! I have lost a kid in the grocery store while checking email on my phone. So like I said earlier, I’ve learned a lot of what “NOT” to do. (Everyone is ok, he was three aisles over.)
Remember that while you may be getting time back in your day by having no commute, you do not have to dedicate that time to work now. Make sure you have a healthy balance to your day and manage your own schedule effectively. Take a break when you need to, and if relevant, try to stay in touch with team members on a regular basis too so that they know how to keep pace too, especially if they're used to the more traditional office dynamic.
6. Remember the big picture
The coronavirus has created a totally new landscape, and everyone is adjusting. Ironically there is popular expression often heard in the corporation office setting - “We are building the plane as we fly it.”
Whether a freelancer already, with some past experience working part-time from home, or have been a daily commuter to date, in all cases it seems fitting to capture the feeling of risk and uncertainty. This is us right now. We don’t know how long this will last or what the future holds. At the end of the day, let's acknowledge we’re all under a significant amount of stress and each one of us is experiencing a range of emotions and thoughts, or some similar version of each. Even during social distancing, this is a very powerful time for connection. Reach out to your family, friends and colleagues - check in to say hi, ask if they need help, or Google Hangout over a glass of wine! DM us! We're here for you too.