It’s a turbulent time. The coronavirus outbreak continues to spread and the majority of people are working from home. Some might be used to it; maybe they do it once a week. Others might have never worked from home before, so it can take a little time to adjust.
Either way, it can be stressful trying to navigate these changing and uncertain times. It’s just as important for you to check in regularly with not only yourself, but your team, during this time.
And as always, we’re here to help. Here’s our top five tips to make working from home a little easier for you and your team.
1. Set up your environment
If you don’t have a home office in your house, we recommend you use your bedroom. And if you don’t have a desk, find anything you can use as a desk. It’s key that you set up your environment and have a separate space that you use purely for work.
Make sure your desk or home office is clean and tidy. So always ensure your bed is made, clothes put away and that there isn’t any washing in the corner. This will help reduce the number of distractions so you’re ready to concentrate on the task at hand.
2. Find your rhythm and get into a routine
Having a routine for everything you do will absolutely help your mind to stay healthy and alert. Your brain loves patterns and it likes to feel safe and settled. If you can find a routine and rhythm that works for you, it will help to dissipate any anxiety that many of us are feeling right now.
So what’s your new routine for the mornings? A good habit to get into is to get up and do some form of exercise and journaling or mindfulness activity. Then you can focus on having breakfast with the family and getting yourself organised and ready to start working at a set time each day, whatever time works for you, your family and your colleagues.
And if you have children to look after, take it in turns with your partner to work for, say, two hours solid, and then look after the children. We’ve found that people can be a lot more productive because they don’t have those distractions. But on the flip side, without those interruptions and interactions, people often lack motivation.
So having a structure in place will help you to be a lot more effective with your time. Being consistent is key.
3. Establish agreements with your family
When you’re working from home and you have your family around you, it’s a good idea to come up with a set of agreements about your new day-to-day lives.
Get everybody involved, sit down together and discuss how you’re going to do things differently and better while you’re all in the house together for long periods of time. For example, who’s going to do the chores and when? What do you expect from the rest of the family in terms of noise levels while you’re on a teleconference?
Another thing could be agreeing on how to communicate with one another. When people are under stress, certain things might crop up that normally wouldn’t have. If you all agree to speak to one another calmly and kindly, it can make the world of difference.
It’s equally important to talk about what happens if the agreements aren’t withheld. How are you going to bring that to their attention? How are you going to manage that?
So, focus on three areas that you need to agree on to make everybody’s life less stressful.
4. Stay connected
Working during this time can be very isolating, particularly for extroverts on your team who always look forward to those morning coffee catch ups. So our fourth tip is to have regular check-ins with your team to stay connected.
We recommend connecting every day for 10 minutes, or every second day. Ask each member what they’re grateful for each day and talk openly about what’s working and what’s not working in this new situation.
Don’t make these check-ins about work, though. Keep it separate and save the work-related challenges for meetings. Instead, concentrate on the psychological wellbeing of all team members.
We also recommend regular one-to-ones. Stay connected to each person. Ask if they need help or support with anything, ask whether they have any obstacles, or if there’s anything that needs to be followed up on from your previous conversation.
When you have a really well structured one-to-one, each team member should leave with clarity. For some, having that clarity is very important because it alleviates some anxiety. And that’s a top people leader skill you should be practising daily in such changing and uncertain times like these.
5. Take time for yourself
Remember to always take time for yourself throughout all of this. Take regular breaks and get up from your desk. Spend that time playing with the kids or going for a short walk outside.
Use the time working from home to your advantage and do things you wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to do on a normal day at work. For example, spend longer making yourself a healthy lunch, or doing lunchtime yoga.
When you take the time for yourself, get into the habit of reflecting on what you’re appreciating in your life right now. When you do this, it allows your mind to be a little bit more expansive. You absolutely get what you focus on. Be realistic as well as optimistic.
Bonus tip: Have fun!
Our number one tip is to have fun.
My (Michelle’s) partner is in a team and during a team meeting, they all sat down wearing something different. So one person wore a gas mask, my husband wore a bike helmet and somebody else wore funny glasses. They all just started laughing. Yes, they got a little sidetracked for a few minutes but it was a good, easy way to bring a moment of fun to the team meeting.
We’ll be sharing some fun team-building virtual activities over the coming weeks, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, give these tips a go and share with your family, friends and colleagues.