“Business as usual” should be “business gets creative” – Elizabeth Fazzare
People’s lives have been completely turned upside down and inside out. Moms, Dads, children, young adults, teachers, men, women, and everyone else. Navigating through this time of uncertainty and fear is challenging. Not one person isn’t having to step up these days. Fortunately, in our world of technology, our ability to continue with “business as usual” is possible. We just have to inject some creativity and self-discipline into the mix. Forced to be flexible, our employers are trusting us to give them our all during these unprecedented events when they already have so much stress and worry on their shoulders. So while we are all at home, we need to make the absolute most of it.
Working from home and working remotely requires 5 major things according to Architectural Digest: quality lighting with access to natural light, a comfortable temperature, good air quality, comfortable furniture, and a strategy for minimizing distractions.
1. Get ready for your work day even if you’re not going into the office
Shower, wash your hair, and brush your teeth. Make your bed and get dressed. I’m not saying you need to put on a suit and tie or dress pants and a blouse, but getting out of your “pj’s” can help set you into a productive frame of mind. This isn’t a vacation, it’s not a permanent Sunday; you have responsibilities. Despite the uncertain and isolated limbo that we are all currently experiencing, life continues to go on even though we feel like we are stuck in this strange, fearful limbo. We cannot control the pandemic, but we can control ourselves and our actions throughout the day. Be mindful and take care of yourself. Having self-discipline provides purpose. Dan Pontefract, former CEO of TELUS, gives 5 crucial tips to those working from home on the Forbes blog.
He says to do these five things to ensure that you remain focused and productive “at the office”:
a) Establish Personal Norms – have set hours for yourself. Whether your employer expects you to keep strict office hours or whether you distribute them and work the odd evening here or there. But have designated times when you start and finish work, this way your work doesn’t surround you while you are at home.
b) Be Present with your Presence – Stay connected with your team through some form of remote technology. At Design Lighting, we are using Microsoft Teams. We constantly communicate when we are available, busy, away, available for a meeting, possibly virtually, etc. This greatly reduces the struggle of isolation and the feeling of loneliness while working from home.
c) Wear Shoes – He is very serious, this isn’t a joke. Dan says that by putting on shoes, it associates with leaving the house and going to work. Slippers and bare feet are for a relaxed state of mind. Wearing shoes are for a professional state of mind.
d) Walk Around – Keep your body and mind moving. Take designated breaks. When on a call, walk around your home. Movement keeps our brain stimulated and refreshed. During your scheduled breaks walk outside through and if you’re restricted to being indoors, walk up and down your stairs for 15 minutes, or perhaps go outside into your backyard, balcony, or rooftop. Keep your body and brain active in your new work environment.
e) Space Out – It is difficult to stay in one place all day long. Keep your same hours, but perhaps give yourself a change of scenery once in a while. For comfort and for your sanity.
2. How to set up your home office
If you already have a home office, that’s great! There are a few design tips that you can make sure to include in your set up if you have not already done so. If you are having to do a DIY make-shift home office, don’t worry. All of these apply to you. You won’t believe how crafty you can be with the resources you already have in your home.
Your home office requires 3 sources of light for sufficient lighting. One source for ambient light (general over-head lighting). The second is task lighting such as a table or desk lamp. A floor lamp will do if you don’t have a desk. Even under-cabinet lighting can serve as task lighting. And the final source is natural lighting- ideally a window that opens. The window serves two purposes, a natural light source, and fresh air which improves productivity. The natural light reduces eye strain and headaches and the fresh air stimulates the brain. Both promote a positive, motivating atmosphere.
If you do not have a desk, your kitchen table or your island counter top will do. Whichever has better natural lighting with a window to allow for fresh air. But do you suffer from back pain? Do you need a standing desk? An ironing board is your answer! Set up your ironing board near your kitchen table. Use your kitchen table as your work area and move your laptop to and from as you need to switch your body position.
Set up your home office in a way that inspires you, but doesn’t distract you. Plant-life, art, objects of interest (vases, decorative accents, etc), and finally add some color. All of these design elements promote focus and creativity. Color especially is known to trigger the creative juices in the brain.
Although this privilege is not available to all, It is important to have a “separate work space” from the rest of your home. These days, most homes are open concept. There is no ability to separate yourself from the rest of your home. Do not fall into the habit of working from your bedroom. This is incredibly important. Do not mix work with your personal home- your brain won’t be able to turn itself off with your work space right beside you. Some people have no other option, but if you can avoid, do! But pick an area of your home where you can work diligently, and if the need for privacy occurs, move to another room. You may use your room for a confidential call, just do not work from your bedroom. You won’t have a healthy work-life balance with work spilling into all areas of your personal space.
Our “New Normal”
We are all getting used to our “new normal.” Social distancing is a huge adjustment for all of us and you need to make sure that you are keeping yourself healthy and maintaining your sanity while working from home. Stay motivated and keep positive. Set daily goals- and meet them! Keep accountable and stay connected with your coworkers and employer through a reliable means of communication, such as Microsoft Teams. Get daily exercise. This is key. Staying active will keep you grounded and increases your positive outlook on the current situation. A stable and positive mindset will help everyone get through this crisis. We will see this through, one day at a time.