The world of work thrives on planning, however, the unpredictability has disrupted our routine. Companies, big or small around the world are forced to shift to remote work in response to the spread of COVID -19. The repercussions from the health, safety, finance and economy perspective are unimaginable.
Anxiety and fear seem to be growing and casting a cloud of uncertainty. The continuous media cycle and deluge of WhatsApp messages surrounding the outbreak, has only helped in stoking the fear. We have all been asked to practice social distancing and working from home (WFH).
The flip side of WFH is that it restricts meaningful connections that help in creativity. Due to the lack of set office hours, you may end up tele-calling and video-conferencing into late hours especially if you work across time-zones. Over time, you may fall prey to loneliness and depression with little or no face-to-face interaction. Last week, one of my clients asked a stark question. “When I head out to work away from home, I come home to relax. Where do I go when I want to relax when I am, already working from home?”
On the bright side, social distancing comes with tremendous advantages.
For those who have been commuting hours to get to work, working from home is a welcome opportunity. There’s more time to spend with the family, you seem to have more hours in a day to make time for things you have set aside like a hobby, fitness, learning, etc.
I have been a WFH professional since I started out, eight years ago. It took me sometime to figure out how to be at home and yet be professional in the way I utilized my home space to my advantage.
While there is an outpouring of do’s and don’ts on how to manage and curtail the virus or how fast it’s spreading into countries and cities as we speak, I’d like to take this opportunity to share with you some tips on how you can maintain your happiness quotient as you socially distant yourself in these COVID-19 times.
Dedicated Office Space
Not everyone has a separate room that can be converted into an office. So, it could be the study table or the dining table in the living room. Do not sit in your bedroom. If you have no choice, draw the curtains and let natural light filter in.
Ensure you have a login time and a log out time with your organization. When you are at your workstation, focus on work. Make it look office-like with peripherals and stationery.
Dress to Impress
You may feel tempted to stay in your pajamas, DON’T. Wear comfortable semi-formal clothes. For women, apply light makeup and dress well! It will put you in work-mode.
Be Seen and Heard
Since most of the work will require video calls and con calls, make your presence felt by being present, physically and by speaking up, else you’ll be lost in the sea of Zoom videos and chaos of con calls.
Eat well and Right.
When you are home and busy on calls, the temptation to skip or eat too much is a possibility. Plan your menu to provide you adequate nutrition, needed. Fortify yourself with regular water breaks.
The temptation to keep sitting is something I grappled with and cost me a numb glute. Keep moving every 30 minutes. Do 5 neck rolls, 10 squats, 10 high jumps and 5 body rotations. Take a walk each morning or evening to get your creative juices flowing. Many organizations are encouraging clients to stay fit at home and posting instructional videos online, too.
Call Friends and Colleagues.
While you may not be able to visit people in person, that does not mean that you cannot connect. The ideal way to combat this period of isolation is to use non-traditional ways to hook up. Reach out to a friend, family or people you trust (who aren’t messengers of doom) and share your concerns and feelings. Get phone-social. Discuss lighter things like movies, music, books to keep your positivity quotient high.
Learn Something New.
Make time to focus on the things you wanted to learn but didn’t have the time for. Sign up for an online course - could be photoshop, a language, music or watch one TEDx or hear one podcast that adds value to you, personally or professionally.
Restrict Media Consumption.
At the moment, the media is on hyper-drive with news of gloom and despair. Go to news channels that are trustworthy. Restrict friends posts if they are constantly pushing messages that create secondary traumatic stress (STS) reactions. Be mindful of what is happening and realize that everyone is being impacted, not just you.
Indulge in Self-care.
Avoid obsessing about the coronavirus and include practices that promote health and positivity like yoga, mindfulness, tai-chi and other low-impact workouts. Sleep is important during this time and practicing sleep hygiene ensures you get sufficient rest.
Power of Music.
Music has a therapeutic effect on your mood and emotions elevating joy and positivity and reducing any influence of pain and anxiety. Mozart Therapy is used to induce improvement in certain mental tasks. A set of research results indicate that the repetitive melodies in Mozart's music may be affecting the organizational centres of the brain's cortex. Be as it may, calming music decreases blood pressure, steadies the heart rate, and eases stress so do not underestimate the power of music.
While none of us are clear when this pandemic will subside and how long we are to practice social distancing, it is not the time to allow fear to dictate your life. Let social-distancing not isolate you. Let working from home not break the social bond of teamwork. Let this time of crisis not fade out your happiness. Look for possibilities that take you ahead. For this too, shall pass.
Happy International Happiness Day!