Embrace the New Normal

Tips for Working from Home

Most of us are now working from home. It’s different. It’s a challenge. And it’s not normal in any sense of the word. These unconventional tips for working from home can help you thrive in this new normal. No, they’re not all unique or original, but they are tried and true methods for success in my home office.

All the feels

Is this what they mean by all the feels?

Sadness in witnessing so much suffering.

Thankful we have access to information.

Fearful to leave the house.

Hopeful our scientists will create a vaccine.

Grateful we’re doing everything we can to flatten the curve.

Faith in our leadership—globally, nationally and locally.

Appreciation for the people who have to leave their homes and go to work.

As a global community, we are facing something we haven’t seen in our lifetime. COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we live our lives. It is making an impact in every way possible, and only time will tell how serious—and long—the impact will be.   

This is a business-focused blog, and I’ll do my best to keep it focused on business. But there’s no doubt, our personal and professional worlds have collided faster than anyone could have ever imagined. So, bear with me as a I cross a few lines into what you might consider “personal.”

First, for people who must to go to work—healthcare providers, first responders, government leaders—thank you for working diligently to keep us safe and healthy.  

“Out of office”

Most of us are now working from home. In full disclosure, I work from home full time, but it’s been an adjustment having my husband and daughter (who is fairly new to the business world) doing the same. 

It’s different. It’s a challenge. And it’s not normal in any sense of the word. Your day is probably filled with frustration and distractions. Whether you need something to keep the kiddos busy or ideas on how to set up your home office, the internet is filled resources to help you adjust with tips for working from home.

Below are just a few resources to help you embrace this new way of working:

Working from home is awesome

As I mentioned, there’s no shortage of ideas and information on the internet. You can literally enter “how to” and whatever you’re trying to accomplish in the Google or YouTube searchbars and get answers.

So, I’d like to take a slightly different take on how to work from home. These unconventional tips for working from home can help you thrive in this new normal. No, they’re not all unique or original, but they are tried and true methods for success in my home office. 

Tips for working from home: virtual happy hour
Ramp coming together for a virtual “happy hour.”
  • Learn. Take the hour or so you’d usually use to commute to and from work to expand your knowledge. Brush up on your skills. Take an online class or virtual training. Read a book. Listen to a podcast. You’ve got the extra time, now do it.
  • Move. All it takes is ten minutes of movement (virtual dance party anyone?) to completely change your mood. You see, exercise releases endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling and better outlook. You don’t have to do much, but since many of us are stuck in our homes, I highly suggest at least a walk around the block. I’ve also found a ton of workouts, from HIIT to Yoga, on the internet.
  • Connect. Set aside time to connect with your colleagues without an agenda (yes, I just broke the number one rule of meetings!). Host a virtual water cooler meeting or coffee break over video conferencing to check in on life outside of work. And don’t forget your new office mates. Schedule a time for lunch together—whether you’re home schooling the kids right now or your officemate happens to be your life partner.
  • Disconnect. I know I’m contradicting the point above, but set clear boundaries when it’s time to work. Shut your door. Turn off instant messaging. Turn off the TV, and resist every temptation to surf social media. Give your brain a rest from the not-so-good news and chaos outside your front door.  
  • Be kind. Check on your colleagues. We all respond to situations like this in a different way. We all have different worries, and being outside of our normal schedule can create a whole new set of stresses. Practice grace and patience because you don’t know how it’s affecting your co-workers. Afterall, we’re humans not just worker bees.
  • Give. You are very lucky to be able to work for home. Many people don’t have that luxury. Now it’s more important than ever to help your neighbors by supporting local businesses and non-profits in your community. This can be as simple as sharing news and information on social media, volunteering or donating goods/money. Do what you can with what you have.

One last thought. Practice gratitude every single day. It’s so easy to forget we need to stop and smell the roses. This is not a new idea, but it’s a tried and true method for finding the positive in any situation.

Whether you write down what you’re thankful for, reflect on what brought you the most joy before falling asleep, or thank someone for a job well done, I promise you’ll start looking for gratitude all day. For example, my daughter and husband are taking a break from work and joking about setting up cubicles in our living room right now. Laughter will be at the top of my gratitude list for the day.

Technology is your friend

I briefly mentioned connecting with colleagues via video conferencing above. Even though Ramp is focused solely on streaming video distribution, I want to talk a little about Unified Communications & Collaboration (UC&C) technologies.

Watch this humorous take on what not to do during a video call.

Right now—more than ever—you should use video conferencing. Yes, that means you need to actually change out of your pajamas before you start the work day.

So much of communication is based on visual cues. Seeing the person you’re talking to helps to create more understanding and a deeper connection. You may also find you’re able to get things done faster versus a traditional audio call because people are more attentive and engaged.

You’re probably already using a platform that allows you to chat or instant message with colleagues. If you’re not, messaging is a great way to avoid email overload and minimize unnecessary meetings.

Just don’t be afraid to set it on “do not disturb” when you need to focus on getting work done. Pro tip for working from home: Start your day by sharing words of encouragement with your colleagues or giving them a virtual pat on the back. Much like gratitude, it can have a positive impact on the work day ahead.

If you don’t already have UC&C tools in place, read BCStrategies’ Business Communication Vendors to the Rescue in the Age of Coronavirus for a list of vendor offerings that can help you maintain effective communication and collaboration while working from home.

In conclusion

Wow, that sounds so formal even though this blog post wasn’t formal in any way. It was even more personal than I planned.

So why stop now? I’ll leave you with a little inspiration.

In times of great stress or adversity, it’s always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive. ~ Lee Iacocca

Your current situation is not your final destination. ~ Trent Shelton

Life is 10% about what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. ~ John C. Maxwell