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Adapting to Working from Home

Posted 28 Apr 2020

We are living through unprecedented times right now, so it’s important to remember to adjust the expectations we place on ourselves and others when it comes to working from home. There are many factors that can be contributing to higher stress levels at the moment, such as trying to balance work whilst looking after and educating children, worrying about the safety of partners or family members who work in an essential service, the general health and safety of loved ones, or even feeling lost and worried about what the rest of the year may bring.

We came across some principles that we wanted to share, in the hope that it may assist with re-framing expectations when working from home in the current climate.

You are not ‘working from home’; you are ‘at home during a crisis, trying to work’.

This principle really speaks for itself. Take a moment to reflect and let this statement sit with you. What does this highlight for you in your current work situation? When you notice you are distracted, maybe not quite feeling like yourself, or not working to your full potential, come back to this principle and remember that we are living through something we haven’t experienced before, so be kind and understanding with your expectations. During unpredictable times, it’s helpful to create a flexible daily ‘rhythm’, rather than a rigid routine.

Your personal mental, physical and emotional health is far more important than anything else right now.

It is important now more than ever, to put our health first. There are a lot of things which we are unable to control, but we certainly have control over our personal health. If this means starting work later in the day so that you can go for a walk outside or doing an online workout in your ‘lunchbreak’, do that! If you are looking after children and their education at home as well, it may mean that your work shifts from a traditional set period of time (e.g. 9am-5pm), to being more task orientated in shorter blocks of time instead so that you can balance and prioritise all of the family’s needs. Taking time to look after yourself and your family will enable you to feel more content and in control during these uncertain times, and will most likely help you to concentrate better and be more productive when you are working.

You should not try and compensate for lost productivity by working longer hours.

Forcing yourself to work longer hours because you haven’t been productive at times can lead to burnout and is not fun for anyone! It’s not likely to assist you in being productive either. Find what helps you be productive, whether it’s taking a walk outside or speaking with a colleague. Notice when you are in a productive head space or your energy levels are higher so you can take advantage of that momentum.

Be kind to yourself and not judge how you are coping based on how you see others coping.

This time is very unique and experienced differently by all. Try not to compare yourself with others. Treat yourself how you would treat a friend who may be overwhelmed or not coping with the demands of life right now. It is okay to give yourself a break.

Be kind to others and not judge how they are coping based on how you are coping.

When you are on an upward swing and feel like you’re kicking goals, remember the times when things may have been more difficult for you. Put yourself in the shoes of others who may be dealing with different situations in their personal and professional lives and offer a helping hand. It’s a great time to lift up those around us if we have the means to.

Your team’s success will not be measured the same way it was when the world wasn’t facing a crisis.

It’s important to remember that things are different right now, so it may not be accurate to hold your teams’ deliverables to the same standards as normal. The overall goal may still be the same for you and your team, but the goal posts have changed and we don’t know how long for. This means we have to find a new way of getting to the goal posts, so it may help to communicate more often and set smaller, more achievable objectives as a team to keep moving forward.

We hope these principles and tips are useful in helping you adjust to working from home. If you’d like some more information about how to thrive when working from home, we highly recommend you check out the Centre for Transformative Work Design’s daily video and blog series!