Staying Safe and Productive in the COVID-19 Pandemic
You are probably swimming in a pool of information about the current coronavirus crisis. The current situation has left us all in shock, unsure of how to go on with our daily lives. Most states and countries have already adopted a form of a ban on going out. Bars, cafes, restaurants, gyms, schools have shut down. Daily life as we know it has come to a halt.
This drastic change that almost feels like it came overnight may cause some discomfort or feelings of anxiety. If that is the case, you are not alone. The whole world is going through this right now.
If you find yourself struggling with fear, panic, and general unease during these times, consider doing the following:
Take breaks from news and headlines, social media included. Considering that a lot of fake news is being spread, reading all sorts of news may be really upsetting. Instead, you can seek other types of information to meet your intellectual needs, such as taking an IVY League online course for free.
Be gentle to your body. It may feel like binge eating is tempting when there is not much else to do, but remember, you can stretch, do yoga, meditate, or do other home workouts. Balanced eating, sleeping, and consistent workouts will make you feel energized and boost overall mood.
Take time to relax. Try to squeeze in some time for activities you enjoy - such as listening to old records, watching Netflix and playing board games with the family. You can even take a virtual museum tour to keep yourself entertained.
Reach out, to your community or the online community. Talk with others about how you’re feeling or use online resources centered around mental health during this crisis.
Remote work during COVID-19
Most businesses have asked their employees to work from home until further notice to prevent the spread of coronavirus, COVID-19. This can be an interesting experiment for the whole world to dive into remote work, and test out how working from home may play out as a future possibility for appropriate businesses. Some businesses, such as construction or grocery stores, simply cannot operate from home. It is worth noting that not all jobs can shift to remote work in light of the COVID-19 crisis.
There are a lot of people that work remotely regardless of a pandemic, for various reasons. Some can do so because their jobs offer flexibility, such as programming, while others may be freelancers, which mostly depends on their own selves in doing their jobs.
For the following weeks, you will be joining this league of remote workers. And, it’s important to see what has and hasn’t worked for them and use this to your advantage. The rest of this blog will address the simple things you can do to stay productive during this time of isolation.
Set Up a Home Office
We may not view our home as a place that promotes productivity. In fact, the feeling of being at home calls for pajamas and snacks. To combat this feeling of laziness, it is important to set up a home office. This obviously does not mean ordering a bunch of office supplies from IKEA and building an office from scratch. Not at all. You simply have to dedicate an area of your home to work completion.
It is not important whether that is your kitchen, living room, or bedroom. Pick an area that you consider comfortable, but not too comfortable. Preferably, an area with a table that can be improvised as a work desk. After picking the area, clear out distractions and start setting up things you need for your daily work, be it your laptop, notebooks, sticky notes, and whatnot. This may also go a long way, with your family members treating you like you are at work, when you are in your space, namely not interrupting you or throwing their personal things on your work desk.
While being part of an office, or any other work setting, lays out clear boundaries for you, there is a thin line between work and leisure when working from home. You can certainly take advantage of the situation by making yourself more comfortable than you are at the office. However, it is very easy to lose track of time and indulge in excessive leisure at home.
Set out a schedule for yourself, similar to the one you have at work. It is natural to have coffee or lunch breaks in between. The goal is not to strictly follow the work schedule, the goal is to set boundaries between your work and leisure time. It is equally important to plan for leisure activities as well, whether that is reading a book, catching up with your favorite Netflix shows, or a quick home workout session. Setting these clear boundaries will help you stay effective and not move from one thing to the other.
Communication is still key
Yes, you have heard this many times - communication is key. Not much has changed since. Communication is still key. You may have taken the office for granted in the sense that it makes communication so much easier. You don’t need to write a lengthy email when your coworker/employee is sitting right across from you, you simply ask them. Coordinating communication efforts between all employees and managing their remote work can be a daunting task when unplanned for.
As Sara Sutton, CEO and founder of Flexjob says, “Out of sight, out of mind can be a real problem for remote workers.”
Set out daily 10 minute calls to plan for the day or recap the day, depending on your organizational needs. This way, everyone is clear about what they have to do and instills a sense of normalcy in these unusual times. Encourage employees to ask questions and reach out if they need to. Remote work may not be equally fun for all. Centralize communication efforts in one platform only, whether that is Skype, Slack, or Atto, it entirely depends on you.
As an employee, don’t hesitate to reach out to managers, clients, or other co-workers. If unsure, always ask. They are only a message away!
Although you may be overwhelmed and concerned as a result of the uncertainty of this pandemic, there is still room for positivity. Focus on the situation’s silver lining. There must be something good that comes out of this situation. You might have more time to spend with your family, more time to catch up on your favorite TV shows, or even finish that book you started a while back.
You may even decide that remote working really suits your work style. Maybe the 9-5 schedule really does not suit your body clock - now is your time to shine. In a survey conducted by Flexjobs, out of 7000 workers, 65% said they believed to be more productive when working from home. The benefits they mentioned, amongst others, were fewer interruptions from colleagues, reduced stress as a result of commuting, fewer office politics and so on.
If you are a manager, it’s important to keep your employees’ spirits up during this time. If you are an employee, it’s equally important to not get paralyzed from all the headlines and concerns about loved ones. We are unsure of how long remote work will last, so set up a structure from the very start.