By Paula Bosler
Our work lives will never be the same. When the Wall Street Journal deems it necessary to share with readers “Seven Rules of Zoom Meeting Etiquette From the Pros,” a seismic shift has emerged. While working away from the actual office may be a novel experience for many, it is far from a new concept as legions of “remote” workers have been living the work-from-anywhere life for decades.
It wasn’t that long ago when the unhappy sounds of a crying child or the infamous barking dog were horrifying to those poor souls who couldn’t hit the mute button quickly enough. Fast forward to video life today, where there seems to be no escaping the occasional unexpected toddler or four-legged guest. And, while many of us are still “horrified,” mostly out of habit, the smiles from other participants have helped to melt some of that fear away as the chirping music of family life has become accepted and a joyful part of the workday.
We all know how things have changed. Living and working day-to-day in the same space as other family members, roommates and kids of all varieties, is not easy. But, there are several things we can do to make our days better.
Through navigating this new normal with our clients and listening to the wise words of those who have come before us, here are some of our favorite tips for daily success.
Five Tips to Improve Your Work-from-Home Day
- Schedule a daily lunch break at an appropriate time. If it only takes ten minutes to walk to the fridge, eat and return to your desk, then go for a walk… a long walk. Remember the treasured lunch out with friends or lunch meetings circa 2019? You still need that break to refocus for a successful second half of your day.
- We are sitting way too much, and it’s not good for our backs. For non-Zoom calls, stand up and walk around if possible when not taking notes. Get up from your “desk” every 30 minutes to alleviate the pressure on your spine. Two boxes or three books make for a great standing desk.
- Plan your day to finish or “leave” at a set time, as if you had to pick up the kids, make a baseball game or hit the yoga studio. Mentally tell yourself you are done for the day.
- Turn off your computer at your set end time and “leave” work. Even if it’s walking into the next room and begin your evening. If you don’t have a dedicated office, be sure to place your work items out of sight. It helps to separate work from home.
- If you do wind up checking back in with work later, think twice about hitting send for that email. Your colleagues will surely be browsing their phones at 9 p.m., and now they have unwantedly stepped back into the office, too. Scheduling and delayed send features were created for this.
Some companies have really set the bar in helping their employees reset to this new “out of office” environment. Alain Hunkins wrote recently in Fast Company about IBM”s “Work from Home” pledge.
“As strong as the IBM culture was before, the shift to a fully work-from-home workforce means starting anew and setting clear limits. Rock-solid cultures don’t arise fully formed. They grow out of behaviors that harden into norms.”
Not all companies are as equipped to support their employees on such fundamental issues as WFH. So it starts with us, to make sure that lines can be drawn, no matter how squiggly, between the physical spaces of work and home.
We must leave the work “at the office” at the end of each day and make sure we are making work, work. Even if our commute home is measured in footsteps and not miles.
Paula Bosler is a Communications Coordinator with Haj Media.