WASHINGTON: The COVID-19 pandemic is making workers worldwide turn their homes into offices. Which may come as a bit of culture shock for many who aren’t accustomed to working outside the office.
Mark Roberts, chief marketing officer of PGi, global business communication and collaboration provider, has championed the idea of “Work Wherever.” This allowing teams to work from wherever they deliver their best work.
Now, with the pandemic changing the idea of working from home, Roberts is helping workers adjust to their “new normal,” one they didn’t anticipate and which, as of now, has no end in sight.
Here are a few thoughts and tips he shared about working remotely in the age of a widespread pandemic.
CommDigiNews (CDN): What’s the most significant bit of advice for someone new to working from home?
Mark Roberts (Roberts): Create a routine. Consistency is critical, and just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you don’t need to follow a routine. Start by waking up every day at the same time, getting dressed and eating breakfast as you would have if you were heading to the office.
CDN: What’s something people new to working from home should expect?
Roberts: Expect Distractions. Typically, when working from home, it’s best to eliminate distractions, but COVID-19 is changing how, where and when we work. So, it’s going to be hard, if not impossible, to remove distractions. Many workers will have the added challenge of home-schooling children while working full time, so do your best to work around and accommodate them.
Develop a game plan for handling distractions and how to work around them. Don’t forget to show your coworkers a bit of grace during the “new normal.”
CDN: How important is staying connected with your coworkers even though everyone is working from a different location?
Roberts: Many new home-based workers feel isolated. To overcome this, it’s important to proactively engage with colleagues similar to the office. I’m on video for every meeting, and I hear a lot of small talk that doesn’t feel small. People are sharing what it’s like working through this unique and scary time. They’re trying to remain optimistic and share hope and humor as much as possible.
I’d say it’s even more important to stay connected with colleagues and teams while we’re in the middle of COVID-19. Pick up the phone or send a text; find a reason to interact with another human being. Consider taking it a step further and have a virtual lunch or happy hour with colleagues or friends.
CDN: Is there a concern people will overwork or won’t be as active as they might typically be or that they’ll end up working too many hours?
Roberts: The short answer is yes, but there are easy ways to remedy this. Even if you can’t get to the gym, it’s vital to remain active. Just as in the office, make it a point to schedule breaks to get up and move during the day. It could be as simple as taking a walk around the block and getting some fresh air. You’ll feel better, and it’ll give you a fresh perspective and new energy to power you through the day.
Be sure to also set expectations about your availability, which may be different than the typical pre-COVID-19 hours. It’s easy to think that just because we’re working from home, we’re on the clock 24/7, but that shouldn’t be the case. If we do nothing but work all hours of the day, we’ll burn out, so it’s important to set boundaries.
CDN: What else should people keep in mind?
Roberts: Stay positive. This is a difficult time for everyone, and your coworkers are feeling the pinch just as you are. Remember to show kindness and empathy. A little will go a long way, and it’ll help us all get through this together. The work experience has likely changed forever, and we’ll emerge from this unprecedented experience better positioned for the future.