DON’T LET THE CORONAVIRUS MAKE YOU LAZY!
Here’s why you should be more productive now than ever and tips to help you transition as a ‘Telecommuter’
We are living in perhaps one of the most bizarre times of our lives.
Isolation. Shutdown. Closed until further notice. Pandemic. Self-Quarantine. Curb-side pickup. Toilet paper. The impact of the Novel-Coronavirus (nCoV-19, COVID-19) that has hit not only our country, but our world, is a surreal and frightening experience that resembles something out of a zombie apocalypse movie. With our new world order, unfortunately there are a lot of people who don’t know how to handle this newfound freedom, aka working from home (telecommuting).
Telecommuting is not a new trend, as a matter of fact, telecommuting is mainstream for many companies. More than 26 million Americans—about 16% of the total workforce—now work remotely at least part of the time, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Between 2005 and 2015, the number of U.S. employees who telecommuted increased by 115%. I personally have spent a number of years of my career working from home. What I learned is there are two types of people who work from home: those who are over-achievers and don’t know when to close their computer; and those who can’t focus on work and are easily distracted by their surroundings. I fortunately fall into the first category.
Those who are new to working from home and are now being forced into telecommuting may have a really hard time adjusting. This is especially true if their situation is compounded by the responsibility of homeschooling their children. But here is why NOW is time to dig deep and work harder than you would be if you were reporting to the office every day.
First, your job is on the line. That’s the hard truth. I am being blunt because I want you to think about this possibility not to scare you, but to motivate you. As companies struggle with the economy, they have to balance income vs. payroll. The reality is people will be laid off. It’s common sense that those who aren’t being proactive or producing very little will likely go first. If that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is.
Second, we don’t know how long this will last! COVID-19 is virtually an unknown mutated virus to scientist and experts.Nobody can predict how long we will have to function under these circumstances. While everyone is currently being advised for a 2-week shut down, a Philadelphia Inquirer article reported that Burlington County (NJ) schools will be shut down for a full month, until April 17. Social media is filled with rumors that we won’t start our recovery until June, August, or even September! Whatever the case, being on top of your game when you go back to the office will not only put you ahead within your company, it will ultimately help put your company get ahead of your competition.
If you’re now rethinking that Netflix binge at 2:00 in the afternoon, here are some tips that can help you make the best of your situation.
1) Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! If you have children, a partner, or a roommate, communicate with them the importance of your work schedule and that you need not be interrupted during your work times. Share your schedule, or post it to the fridge. You will have plenty of time for discussions, questions, and yes, even fun. See #6.
2) Create a dedicated work space. Explain to everyone in your household that when you are in your “office” you are working and not to be disturbed.
3) Log out of social media accounts and turn off the TV. You might even consider working primarily in a private or, if you are using Chrome, an “Incognito” browser window. This ensures that you stay out of all your accounts and it helps that you won’t be tempted into taking too many social media breaks.
4) Interact with other humans. You are working from home, not Mars. Turn quick calls with your staff or coworkers into video calls or GoToWeb or ZOOM meetings. If you use Gmail Suite, your calendar automatically offers a “Join Hangouts Meet”. Set up virtual meetings throughout the day to break up your isolation.
5) Take clear breaks for personal responsibilities, home distractions, and even fun. If you plan for the distractions, then you can control them, and then you likely will not be distracted by them later.
6) Create a structured schedule and stick to it. Set your wake-up time (alarm) early and get right to work. Schedule every hour with specific tasks to work on and complete, as well as your breaks, personal responsibilities, exercise, and fun. You can add each segment into your calendar so you will get notifications on your laptop as you work. Here’s an example of what that could look like:
- 6:00 - 7:00 a.m. - Make coffee, plan day
- 7:00 - 8:00 a.m. - Get the kids up, dressed, and breakfast made/served
- 8:00 - 8:10 a.m. - Start kids homeschool assignment #1
- 8:10 - 9:00 a.m. - Work project #1
- 9:00 - 9:10 a.m. - Start kids homeschool assignment #2
- 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. - Answer emails, set appointments
- 10:00-10:30 a.m. - Get up, stretch exercises with the kids, put in a load of laundry, start kids with a ‘creative project’ or play time
- 10:30-11:20 a.m. - Work project #2
- 11:20 - 11:30 a.m. - Break to walk dog, make lunch
- 11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. - Lunch, put laundry in dryer, answer school work questions
- 12:00 - 12:30 p.m. - Go for a walk, a bike ride, or just sit outside. Get out in the fresh air and sunshine
- 12:30 - 12:40 p.m. - Start kids on homeschool assignment #3
- 12:40 - 1:30 p.m. - Work project #3, answer emails, video call with co-workers
- 1:30 - 2:00 p.m. - Stretch with kids, fold laundry, plan dinner
You get the idea, but stick to it. With more breaks during the day, your schedule will flow smoother, even if you work later into the evening.
Lastly, my personal advice to you, MAKE YOURSELF VALUABLE. If you get through your work and assignments and you find some extra time on your hands, don’t go right to the couch and good book. Put your thinking cap on and tackle a problem your company may have been dealing with for months but nobody has addressed. Even if it is something as simple as a new organizational process for shared drive files. If you are contributing new ideas from your new telecommuting position, your boss will notice, and appreciate it.
Oh, one last thing, it’s ok if you don’t wear pants, nobody is watching. Just make sure you wash your hands, a lot.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robyn Colajezzi is Director of Marketing and Business Development at SERVPRO of Upper Bucks, Pennypack/Bustleton, and Germantown and has 20 years experience as a marketing professional in the Philadelphia and Mid-Atlantic region. Robyn holds a BA from Kutztown University. Robyn currently serves as Vice Chairwoman for CAI’s Communications & Content Committee. She can be contacted via e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org