The SolarWinds Guide to Work From Home: Your Home Life at Work
In the previous post in this series, we offered tips for Your Work Life at Home. You may now be thinking, “What does THAT mean?” and we humbly suggest you check it out for yourself. 😉 We offered options for work space, work boundaries, and more.
This time around, we’d like to discuss work/life blending. With the progression of the impact of COVID-19 across companies, communities, and schools, there’s a good chance you aren’t going to be home alone. Potentially, this means getting used to multiple adults working from home, kids doing distance learning, and a menagerie of pets wanting attention all within a shared space. That shared space may have felt big enough for all of you previously, but with the added pressure of work and all being cooped up for prolonged periods of time, even a warehouse would start to feel cramped.
We want to offer some tips for coping with this new and completely imbalanced situation, and maybe some suggestions for balancing it back out as much as possible. As we said in the introduction, remember right now is not a normal work-from-home situation. We’re all going to have to relax our boundaries just a little bit due to lack of control. This will mean you and your coworkers (your actual coworkers, not the ones you’re sharing your “office space” with) need to be understanding about things like kids popping in frame, pets making their presence known, noises outside your home (and your control), and even family members shuffling past in the background.
With this idea on the table, here are some specific thoughts on how to achieve work-life nirvana (or at least equilibrium) from home:
- One strategy for starting your work day is to step out of the house, take a walk, and then come to work. When you’ve had a stressful day, this same strategy works well to decompress before you “come home.”
- Despite the fact that some people absolutely love the idea of working in their pajamas, we’ll say it here like so many other WFH guides: stick to your regular workplace routine. Get up at the same time. Get washed up. Dress in the clothes you would normally wear in the office. For many folks, this helps establish the mental boundary of “work” versus “home” life and helps keep the two from blending much.
- Create a sign or other visual indication letting other folks in the house know you’re working. Set up a process where they know to text or leave you a voicemail if someone within your home needs something. It’s vital to set these boundaries from the beginning.
- Explain to your spouse and children that work is being done and to respect your area and give them time frames. This helps them know you have a beginning and an end to your “work” day.
- If you have little ones who aren’t really getting the “I’m in a meeting” concept, pull together a bucket of toys (some really exciting ones, preferably on the quieter side). Bring the bucket out ONLY when you’re about to jump on a call. The rule is those toys only come out if the kids can be quiet, and once the call is over, they will be packed back up. Use this technique right and you may be surprised to hear your kids ask if you can “go on another meeting now,” so they can play more.
- Another meeting strategy is to designate a room (one with a door) for meetings, and a different space for general work. I will admit the “room with a door” I’ve used in the past is the bathroom. Your mileage may vary.
- Be mindful of making healthy choices. Drink plenty of fluids, stop working to make (and eat) a proper lunch, and take short breaks to move around throughout the day. Just because you’re now working from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take 10- to 15-minute breaks as you might at the office, so take the dog or just yourself for a walk to clear your mind and have a break when the opportunity arises.
- Know when to fold ‘em. One of the challenges of WFH is you’re always at work. Just like you should follow your normal routine for getting up and heading to the office, do the same at the end of the day. Set clear boundaries about the time you’ll put your work down each day.
- When your work day is over, try to separate yourself from it as best you can. This is easier for some folks than others; and easier at some points in a workflow than others. But if you set a routine and deviate only when absolutely necessary, you can save yourself from some added stress.
Catch our next addition to this series as we discuss how to Stay On-Task and On Time. We’ll discuss the practical steps you can take to achieve success in this new environment and offer a few tips and tricks to (hopefully) staying sane.