Many of us experienced feelings of uncertainty and excitement when the stay-at-home order was first announced. Uncertainty from not knowing how long it would last or if we would be able to work in the same way. Excitement for the conveniences of working from home. No commute, more time with family, and comfortable apparel have been a few silver linings in the midst of a pandemic. But as time passes, we are all starting to realize that our new normal may be vastly different than the life we knew a few months ago. While working remotely has its benefits, it can also be isolating, result in longer work hours, be less intellectually satisfying, cause mediocre collaboration, and result in fatigue that could hinder innovation. To combat these negatives, we must find a way to proactively discover what it means for us to thrive in this new normal. Below are a few tips I have learned along the way to help you re-energize your workday:
Remember those days at the office where you had meetings in conference rooms, sat at your desk, visited someone in the breakroom, or went out to lunch? Mobility is just as important at home. Pick at least three locations (ideally one can be outside) and rotate between them throughout the day. If you don’t have a mobile laptop, then answer emails on your phone for 30 minutes while you sit outside.
Remote work probably won’t ever go away – it may be wise to budget a laptop purchase in the near future, start planning for an at-home office or get yourself a laptop stand so that you are not bent over in an uncomfortable position all day. If your eyes hurt from too much zooming, invest in computer glasses to decrease fatigue and strain. Do what you need to do to set yourself up for success.
Don’t let email or your calendar control you – control it. Spend 15 minutes every morning reviewing your calendar for the next three days and plug-in time for emails (3x/day for 30 minutes…otherwise close outlook/turn email off), schedule projects (this includes emails that take longer than 5 minutes to respond to) and block creativity/innovation time. Re-evaluate every day whether the goals you set are achievable and if something needs to be rescheduled or delayed, just ask (in advance, not at the deadline).
We can’t give our best to others if we don’t give to ourselves. What makes you feel recovered – exercise? Netflix binge? cooking? chatting with your kids? Whatever your ‘thing’ is that makes you happy, do it daily. Just because you get the conveniences of working from home does not mean you should spend all of your time working. Plug time into your calendar to invest in yourself.
The time will come when we will reenter the workplace, and as long as it is safe for you to do so, embrace the ability to be around people again. As humans, we energize one another through non-verbal communication, something that has been lacking over the past few months. Take advantage of any opportunity to connect with someone, even if you need to stay 6 feet apart. Laugh a little and prioritize conversations that are personal and authentic.
Remember that as humans, we are naturally inclined to be together. While technology has given us the benefit of digital communication, it is also important that we do not lose sight of the benefits of human connection.