Working from home and homeschooling is not new. Many people and children have been doing this for years. What is new and unique about our current situation is that unless you have a mission-critical role, everyone is staying home, including children and spouses/significant others. Everyone is now learning to do “the work” differently. Those lucky enough to still have a job that get to work from home are adjusting to a new way of performing the role. Children are adjusting to a new school day. And one more little twist is that some people are working from home AND homeschooling their children.
So how do you manage and navigate through all this new stuff? You can think of working at home as starting a new job. When starting a new job, it takes a little bit of time to adjust and get in the groove of how you interact with internal and external teams. Here are some things to consider to get into your groove.
Set up your work area in a place with minimal distractions, i.e., away from the TV and in an area where you can leave it as is every day, so you don’t have to re-create the space every day. Get up each morning and dress as if you will be at the office or meeting with a client. Show up at your work space, just as if you were showing up to the physical office.
Take your lunch break away from your desk and permit yourself to take a couple of 5-10-minute breaks throughout the day. Your brain needs a break and time to rest. Be disciplined in saying no to personal phone calls. Share with your family and friends that while you are working at home, the same work etiquette applies as if you were physically at the office. Let them know you will be happy to check in with them after work when you are not distracted and can give them uninterrupted time. They will appreciate having your full attention.
When speaking with a client, listen with the intent to understand how the situation is impacting him/her. A good rule of thumb to use when seeking to understand is the 80/20 rule; listen 80% of the time and talk 20% of the time. Acknowledge and validate; ex: it makes sense you feel that way; anyone in your shoes would feel that way. Listening is different from hearing, so give them your undivided attention.
If you have children at home, take a moment to let your children say hello to your teammates during virtual meetings instead of insisting that they stay away altogether. Children are curious by nature, and allowing them to see what you are doing will satisfy their curiosity. If you ask that they stay away 100% of the time, that can lead to making them feel like they are doing something wrong, which will create stress for both the child and the parent.
If you are able, give your child opportunities to sit next to you and work with you even if it’s for 5 – 10 minutes. These are opportunities for your child(ren) to see what you do every day when you are away from home under normal circumstances.
One final thought. How you view the situation will impact whether or not you get into a state of flow. It is the perception of the beholder that determines the outcome. How do you want to view the situation? What outcome do you want?