So, we are working from home due to the threat of infection by the virus. We have our home working ‘office’ set up and then we realise that we might be working from home for some considerable time.
We are all dealing with a new event that we haven’t experienced before, or if we have experienced something similar, we may not have coped with it well. I’m guessing for some people that remote working is completely new. Waking up and not having to get in a car or the bus before you start work is ‘different’.
The lack of a commute may appeal to some, but many people use the journey as a nice part of down time. I like to listen to an audiobook on the bus and I’m not the only one who is reading a book or a newspaper. I have a friend who now “goes out to work”, which for him is stepping out of his front door for a 10-minute circular walk and as he walks back in, he is ready to start work.
Freedom or stress?
Once this pandemic is over, there are likely to be more people continuing to work remotely, either employed or self-employed. Whatever their employment status, many face similar challenges. Whilst there may not be anything we can do about the decision to work remotely and from home, we do need to work out if it can ‘work for us’. Where possible, try not to stay remote working if you can see it’s not for you.
There has been lots of research about stress and control at work. The Goldilocks principle applies here – neither too much or too little is the best way to go in developing a positive work dynamic.
I think control is the key to becoming resilient if you have to work remotely. I find it challenging to work in this way. That may be because I have children and a dog. But I like working alone – I find I can get so much done and it gives me freedom to work in a pattern I’m comfortable with. I find it creative, going back and forth to different pieces of work. I don’t like to plan and have a formal structure to the way I work.
What can you do to stay in control?
I’m equating control with being and staying resilient. If you think is the case, then what can you practically do? Here are some principles I think are beneficial:
- Work out how you spend your time.
- Be clear about your job outcomes.
- Work out what is controllable and uncontrollable.
- Negotiate time and boundaries.
I think if you can work out a way of using these principles to help construct your work routine, then you could manage working remotely effectively. Planning out a structure is also useful out. E.g. Place yourself under pressure for 50 minutes in the hour, then take a 10 minute complete break doing something else like walk around the house and garden, or, if you really need to, look at emails……. Then start again placing yourself under pressure for 50 minutes. (1) This should begin to give you control over your working day. You can go further and combine them with a more holistic way of thinking, which could include the following:
- You are not ‘working from home’ – you are ‘at home, during a crisis, trying to work.’
- Your physical, mental and emotional health is extremely important – you should try to manage this the best you can.
- You should not try to compensate for lower productivity by working longer hours.
- Be kind to yourself – don’t judge how you are coping based on how others seem to be coping.
- Be kind to others – don’t judge how they seem to be coping compared with how you are.
- Success will not be measured the same way it was when things were normal. (2)
Working remotely and from home has some ‘freedom’ attached. At times it can become overwhelming, but we do have the ability to control how we respond. Hopefully, you will find information and practical steps to maintain and improve your resilience in these difficult times.
(2) Adapted from Blue Mountain Community College Boardman, Oregon