Not too long ago, only a handful companies (at least in Germany) offered their employees a possibility to work from home, without having to provide legitimate reasons (acceptable reasons are usually kids sick, wait for a package or plumber, or have to go to a car mechanic near home).
But, as we all know, Corona changed that. We are all in lockdown.
For those who is lucky enough (including me) to keep their jobs and work from home, this was a bless in disguise, in the first few months. But then reality kicked in. Total WFH is not for me. A the time of writing, I work once a week in the office, and the rest at home (ideally for me would be 2 days at home, and 3 days in the office). Though technology makes this pandemic a bit bearable (and WFH possible), call me old school, but I still need regular, face-to-face contact with my colleagues to be productive. The other reason is, I need a change in scenery between home and office. Besides, my company has a wonderful office and I really love it!
Enough complaining. Like they say, work from home means you still have a job and a home.
To make the best out of this trying time, here are my strategies to reduce WFH stress and keep productive.
Dress (casually and comfortably) and look as if I were working in the office
It’s hard to be in the working vibe if I’m still in my pyjama and I look like that I just got out of bed. That is why I get ready and dressed as if I were going to the office. It makes me fresh and ready for the day.
Design my daily routine as if I were in the office
08:00 AM in front of my computer with coffee and a little breakfast reading emails and news, and start working.
10:45 AM short daily call with my team
12:00 PM lunch
01:00 PM back from lunch
03:00 PM longer coffee break
05:00 PM wrapping up for the day
You wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at my schedule above, if I’m in the office or at home. The only difference is, when I’m at home, I take my dog out and talk to my kids (since they are schooling also from home) in the short breaks.
A separate space
I’m very lucky that I have an extra room at home that I can use as my office. I set only one goldren rule, especially for my kids, that when the door is completely shut, I cannot be bothered, unless of course, something is burning (both literally and figuratively speaking).
Short daily call with my team
To stay in touch and updated with what is going on, I schedule a short daily call (at 10:45 AM) with my team. In the pre-pandemic it was known as daily stand-up.
15-minute time out for every hour
I can’t stay concentrate for more than one hour straight. So I set up a 15-minute time out from work after 45 minutes working, away from the monitor screen. Of course, sometimes it can be a bit off due to other commitments such as meeting or deadline. But most of the times, it works and it helps me to refresh my mind. I use this 15-minute time out usually either to walk my dog out, ask my kids how the school is doing, get some snack and something to drink, or just take some fresh air outside. Or do the next strategy.
Call my favorite (or random) colleague(s) for chit chat
When you are in the office, you bump into another colleague in the hallway or kitchen. Or go to her/his desk for a little chit chat and small talk. It doesn’t happen in the WFH. So I sometimes call a colleague out of the blue. Better with a video. To avoid awkwardness and not to disrupt their work, I ask them first via the chat system if it is OK to call for a small talk.
These strategies work for me and make the work loneliness a little bit bearable. it also helps to have a supportive family. I can’t wait the time when WFH is not a must but an option, and the time when I get to see my colleagues, friends and acquittance in person again. No technology can replace that, yet.