Working from Home: The New Normal?
Time was, working from home was the dream and people who did it could often be visualised sipping mai tais on their deck, Bluetooth headset in, Hawaiian shirt on. Cut to 2020 and a majority of the workforce is working from home in an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. By all reports, working from home is nothing like we thought it was.
The difference between the current shift in working trends, and the original idea of remote-working professionals, is that the choice has been removed. Plus, for many workers, we’re also having to contend with our children being home from daycare and school, our partners also being sequestered in close quarters, and our general family equilibrium altered. We can no longer go to the gym to blow off steam, to the mall for retail therapy, or even to our local coffee shop for a catch-up with friends. Things are tough right now. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and just all-round irritable, you’re not alone.
The Vine Street Digital team are well equipped for the “Work From Home” model as we’ve been a remote digital agency since our inception. Of course, we’re all in the same boat with the isolation restrictions, but here are a few tips for you and your mental health, while you adjust to the New Normal.
Let Go of 9–5
If you’re new to working from home, some of the perks include no commute, a bit more time on your hands, and the ability to choose when you want to work. You may feel a little more freedom with how you structure your day. Be kind to yourself about scheduling your tasks. This is especially important if you have children underfoot or a partner to work around. For instance, get up a little earlier if you find yourself more productive in the morning. Alternatively, if you’re a night owl, save some of your work tasks for later at night once everyone has gone to bed (and you can have some quiet time).
Schedule Your Active Time
If you’re used to going to the gym or getting outdoors, this can be a huge adjustment for your day-to-day life, not least of which because exercise/fitness is so important to your mental health. When you’re putting together your new daily schedule, make time for exercise. No equipment? No problem, there are many fitness activities that require little to no machines, weights, or fiddly straps. Think yoga, running, walking, or plyometric exercises. Alternatively, consider taking advantage of the many fitness streaming programmes available.
Working around kids
If you’ve found yourself at home with young children in this time of upheaval, you might be feeling like tearing out your hair. You love them, sure. But trying to work, clean, cook, stay sane, and keep them entertained 24/7 is more than a full-time job – it’s closer to three. Keep in mind that you are not alone, and there are many groups on social media designed for stay-at-home moms, homeschooling, and entertaining little ones. Some tips that may help include working while they’re asleep, tag-teaming with your significant other, and having scheduled quiet time every day. They don’t have to sleep, but they do have to entertain themselves for a couple of hours so their parent/s can work. Feel free to relax your screen time restrictions if that’s going to help you stay sane and get some work done.
You need “you time”
Self-care seems like a vague concept at the best of times, but now more than ever the stakes are much higher for you, your work, and your family. It’s all very well to espouse clichés and sound bites (is anyone else sick of hearing “you can’t pour from an empty cup”?), but our reality is now so different that your health is the single most important priority on your list. Stress and anxiety are clinically proven to lower immune system efficacy.
So have a cup of tea, read a book, buy an adult colouring book, or simply wear your fluffy slippers to your new work/home office (there’s got to be some perks, right?). Even if it’s for only thirty minutes a day, your mind will thank you for it.
Be Kind. To everyone, but especially to yourself.
Yes, you officially have permission to wear your pyjamas to work from home. You can work from the couch and you can have an extra cup of coffee. If your children have chips and nuggets for dinner again tonight, that’s okay. In this trying time, where you’re doing your best to keep things running smoothly, your ability to be kind to yourself will help you get through. Often attributed to the Buddha is the quote “if your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete”. In a world where things have changed so rapidly, it’s imperative that we remember to be kind.
Remember that all things are temporary! Our current situation is not permanent (although it feels like it when your laptop is propped up on the ironing board and you’re watching your twelfth rerun of Frozen II.) So make the most of this time to look after yourself and your family, enjoy the little things, and stay healthy!
Wash your hands!
Written by Kristen Boucher