By Caitlin Burns, DocsCorp Content Manager.
With social distancing restrictions gradually easing in some countries, many are wondering what it will be like to return to the office after months spent working from home. It’s been an incredibly challenging period, but, as much as possible, wouldn’t it be great if we could come out of this and implement positive changes?
For some, that might be working from home more often because of the flexibility it offers. For others, it’s working different hours so the school pick-up is more easily managed. Regardless, it’s unlikely we will all want to make the same change.
Here at DocsCorp our Marketing team is global. We have team members in Sydney, London, and Portland (OR). It’s always been like this, so we are somewhat used to video calling from home at all hours and in our pajamas. It took some practice, but we’ve all learned how to really communicate in an email, trying to anticipate any questions so that there isn’t a 24-hour delay because the person at the other end can’t start until you respond with an answer the next day.
But, on an individual level, we all had to make the adjusting to working from home full-time. As a result, we learned things about ourselves and discovered unexpected silver linings in isolation. Now we’re thinking about how we take the positives with us when we walk out the front door and head into the office - whenever that day comes.
I asked some of my colleagues what they think has changed for the better in their work-life as a result of isolation during COVID-19, and how they might keep it going when they’re back at their desks.
Mel – Marketing Director EMEA, London
I've always started work early and done my emails from bed. Then I’d get up, get the kids ready, and do the school run. But now that the kids are homeschooling, I get out of bed, go for a bike ride or have a coffee with my husband, and then go to my home office and log on for the day.
Obviously, it will be tricky to keep this routine up when the kids go back to school and my husband starts leaving for work at 7 AM again. But I’m definitely going to try and keep the bike ride and coffee time, so my mornings aren’t so stressful. Then, I can do my emails once I get on the train to London.
Alex – Multimedia Designer, Sydney
I’ve kept my routine at home similar to when I was at the office. I wake up around the same time, make breakfast, and have it with a cup of coffee before I start work. I don’t want to feel like I’m going through another big disruption when we go back to the office.
However, one thing that’s changed is how I use my time. Before, I wouldn’t allow myself to take many breaks because I knew my hours at the office were limited. I wanted to get my work done and leave on time. Now that I’m at home, I’m taking lots of short breaks because I know I have more time. For example, I can log back on after dinner if I need to finish an urgent project.
These short breaks have been great for my physical health. I used to feel a lot of discomfort in my back from sitting down. So, when I take a break, I do a quick exercise like push-ups, squats, or just some stretching. It’s made a real difference. It’s also helping me focus and giving me a chance to think about what I can do next.
Lily – Digital Marketing Manager, London
Other than really appreciating the importance of video calls, I hope something I continue to do is get organized about what I eat.
Having a morning free from a commute on the tube and the responsibility of getting dressed and putting on makeup, I’ve been able to start actually having breakfast. Making a smoothie of bananas, yogurt, frozen berries, and fruit juice has replaced my old routine of hurriedly ironing something before rushing out the door.
Our London office is surrounded by lots of quick and easy food options, so I would often nip out and grab something fast for lunch whenever I had the chance. Since I’ve found myself with more time on my hands – and without the option to get takeaway – I have been making myself lunch every day. Other than saving money, it’s helping me be smarter about what fuels me during the workday. This has been important because, like many, I have found I tend to work later and longer hours while I’ve been at home.
Kerry – Global Marketing Manager, Sydney
One of the things that we have all concluded as a result of the COVID-19 experience is that teams can work remotely, despite reservations many of us had that we were not disciplined enough or set up to work from home. Our teams have proven they can remain connected throughout the day and be just as if not more productive than when in the office. As a result of this experience, I plan to work from home two days a week and will encourage my team to do the same.
I found that breaking my day into two blocks works best for me. An early start lets me get through all my emails, administrative tasks, and plan for the rest of the day. A two-hour break late morning lets me take care of personal matters, take a walk, or do some exercise. This break gives me a new burst of energy and sets me up for my second block of work, which can extend late into the evening, but does include dinner with the family. The social benefits of this are important: less traffic on the roads; more family time; a boost to local cafes; and weekends are free for other things.