By Caitlin Burns, DocsCorp Content Manager.
We’ve all been busy adjusting to a new kind of normal as the world reacts to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the physical act of leaving the house and boarding a bus/train/boat/bike signaled the start of the working day. Now, it’s just the changing from nighttime sweatpants to daytime sweatpants that marks the occasion.
Lots of people were already doing this pre-coronavirus, dialing in from home 1-2 days per week to balance other commitments, like caring for young children. But there are even more people who didn’t get to dip their toe into the water before taking the plunge into full-time remote working.
I was one of those people, having never really needed to work from home more than a day here and there. I am someone who needs a routine, which really suits the concept of ‘office hours.’ I’m also someone who needs lots of social interaction. Without multiple coffee breaks and spontaneous desk chats, I thought it would be a matter of days until I started acting like Tom Hanks at the end of Castaway.
Luckily, it didn’t take long until I realized what I needed to do to adapt. For example, in the first week, I missed the satisfaction of finishing a day in the office, packing up my things, walking out, and jumping on a train home. When I clocked off at 5:30 PM, nothing happened. I was in the same room, wearing the same things. So, I started to do something that physically signals the end of the workday. Usually, it’s changing into exercise gear and doing a workout in my tiny lounge room or having a hot shower and wine(s) on the couch. Now, I have a bookend to my day.
I knew I couldn’t be the only one discovering new ways of coping with the lockdown. I video-called a few of my colleagues to ask what they have learned about themselves – and what they’re doing about it.
Katie – Sales, North America
I’ve learned that, for me, my surroundings really matter. If there is a lot of clutter, or piles of laundry, I cannot seem to focus on deep work (strategy, planning, etc.) Sure, I can reply to emails and get things scheduled, but work that I have to dig deep for and really be creative and thoughtful just won’t happen in a mess. So, I spend a few minutes at the start of the day, making sure everything around me gets put away and tidied. Then, mentally, I feel less cluttered.
Barry – Research and development, Sydney
I’ve realized that when I am bored, I want to organize things. So, I’m using my extra time at home to do the projects I could never find time for. I’m working through my digital music collection (all 438 hours of it) while researching new albums on YouTube in the background. I got out all our spare, orphan cables and wound and cable-tied them. I even organized my books into height order. Sometimes you just need to embrace the change and make the best of it.
Sarah – SEO and digital marketing, Sydney
I realized I can sit in the same place for hours when I’m not walking to the office kitchen to make tea or fill up my water bottle. So, to force myself to get up and move around, I’m drinking from a very small cup. When it runs out, I stand up, stretch, and walk to the sink to refill.
Sid – Development lead, Sydney
I’m finding it a lot harder to clock off and stop working now that I’m home – which is bad, because my wife and I have a new baby at home. With my laptop just meters away from me, I’m more inclined to head over to attend to a work problem when it comes up, rather than waiting until the next day. Then it’s 10:30 PM, and I’m still there. When a problem comes up, now, I pause and think: if I’d just walked in the door from a long day at the office, would I spend the energy on fixing it? If the answer is no, I put it out of my mind and trust I’ll get to it first thing in the morning.