Working from Home in the Age of a World Pandemic

We are in unprecedented times…”

How many times have you heard that in the last couple of weeks?  Twenty, thirty, or more like hundreds depending on what you watching on tv or scrolling through on social media or listening on the radio.  But the reality is, that is the truth. WE ARE IN UNPRECEDENTED TIMES. Our world has been shaken; for some including myself the implications of this virus feel like a nightmare.  It is a surreal feeling. We need to come together (via #socialdistancing) or virtual means to get through it. I started thinking about what day to day activities I am struggling with and who else is feeling the same.  I am an interior designer and part of my job is to meet clients, source products at showrooms, space plan from my computer and visit and collaborate with my trades on job sites. Many of these daily activities have been put on hold or I am finding alternative ways of doing the same task from home.  Work also keeps my mind off the pandemic and looking towards the end and a return of normal life. Those that can work from home should count ourselves lucky, but this also poses its own set of challenges. Not only has your physical work space changed but so has your routine. And those two things together can either set you up for success or failure in work life. I want to share my prior experience and current as it relates to the struggle of working from home. 

A few years back I had decided not to go back to “desk” interior design job and took a position with a small firm that’s business model was to work from home.  For me, the challenge was just coming off maternity leave and not feeling ready, not having child care, working in a new sector of design and working from home.  It was losing battle and I did fail. All of the circumstances plus not having a real place to work in my home were the reasons I was less productive, less focused and as a result, not a great employee. 

So how is my experience similar to what some of you are struggling with now with Coronavirus/ Covid-19:

  • Sudden change in circumstances
  • Quickly having to decide what will you need from your office space at home (files, supplies, tech)
  • No childcare/ start of homeschooling
  • Figuring out which tasks you did at your office job can be done at home
  • Change in Physical workspace- a dedicated space to none

The silver lining here, is that this isn’t permanent; it is a temporary situation.  We just need to figure out how you work so that you can be productive and effective in your temporary environment.

Let’s start with routine.  Below is a chart of my routine when I had my desk job compared to the initial “routine” from home.

My Routine – Compared




While at officeWhile at home
6:00-6:15Wake up ShowerWake up
6:15-7:00Get Ready – do my hair (not a make up at work gal)Kids at my ankles
7:00-7:45Have Breakfast and CoffeeCoffee and toast

Make lunchKids at my ankles

Get my Coffee to- go mug readyKids at my ankles
8:00- 8:30Drive to workKids at my ankles
8:30-9:00Settle in at work by checking emailsStart working – emails
9:00- 9:15Check in with coworkers- what did you do last night?Kids at my ankles
9:15- 10:00Get to workContinue to try to work
10:00-10:30Meet with Boss to understand daily/ weekly goalsKids at my ankles
10:30-10:45Coffee BreakKids at my ankles
10:45- 11:45WorkKids at my ankles
11:45- 12:45LunchContinue to try to work
12:45-2:30WorkContinue to try to work
2:30- 2:45Coffee BreakLunch with kids
2:45- 3:45MeetingKids at my ankles
3:45-5:30WorkContinue to try to work
5:30- 6:00Go HomeContinue to try to work

Productive Work hours: 8.25 hoursProductive Work hours: on a lucky day 3hours

This change in routine left me feeling helpless, out of control and anxious. And obviously I  have had time to reflect and change processes to suit my new and current condition of working from home. But I am here to share my experiences and challenges and help you work through this time of uncertainty.

If we compare the above  list, the aspect that jumps out first is schedule, a lack of schedule creates chaos.  The next big factor is that my daily social interactions mattered to me and in the end aided in my daily productivity.  

We need social interaction, #socialdistancing and the #stayhome mandate impacts us and many of us are having difficulty coping with the change and staying effective in our job.  We may not have realized by how much the feel of community in an office means to us. So how do we remedy this? We have now been in this condition, including myself for two full weeks (or at least that is when we pulled my son Oliver out of kindergarten/daycare).  And I don’t think I have my work routine down yet either. I have a home office but two kids under 5 are throwing me for a loop too. So, the first thing I want you to do is identify your schedule and be honest about your interactions. Create a list like I did above of how your day would go if you were still going to the office.  BE HONEST. Do you take lunch or is that when you and a co worker go for a walk? Do you have watercooler talk? How many meetings are you in daily? Do you interact with people? Do you work in a cubicle? Do some of your tasks involve collaborating with co-workers? Make notes about the types of space you are in when doing those tasks. Also check in with your partner, what is their schedule, daily routines etc.  And then your kids routine, that’s the big X factor in this. I will do the same exercise and draft a new schedule for my current state meshed with the kid factor!  

 I think one of the saving graces for us in this pandemic is technology.  We can continue to #socialize while #socialdistancing with the aid of technology. But you need to know what your goals are to find the right tech/app to let you be productive.  Also take this discussion to your co-workers, find out their challenges; see what you can do for eachother. So if you are that person that needs the coffee break or the walk around your block with your coworker, get your headset on and talk to your coworker while walking!  Determine a time that both of you will take your coffee break together or take a walk in your neighbourhood and her in her neighbourhood and chat via one great app’s available. 

This post is about engagement.  I want your questions; let’s start a dialogue! I am posting on a Friday and will continue with the next topic specifically being setting up your home office over the weekend and hopefully that way some of you can feel more prepared for Monday! And then let’s continue to chat over the next weeks and help you through this difficult but temporary situation.

Thanks,

Rita 

Soma Interiors 

#workspace #workingfromhome #howto #stayhome #socializing #socialdistancing #interiordesign #designertipoftheday #schedule #routine #makeshiftworkspace #temporaryworkspace #technologyforworkingfromhome #smallbusinesswinnipeg #helpingeachotherintimesofneed #supportlocal #thepeg #virtualconsultation #hireadesigner #hirelocal #staypositive #stayhopefull

Soma Interiors is looking for engagement as on our blog posts.  And we are here to try to assist you in your specific needs. DM me on Instagram or leave a reply with you specific questions and we will provide suggestions in the form of #designertipoftheday or further blog posts.  If you want a more indepth consultation of your personal workspace we can set up a virtual consultation. #hireadesigner #virtualconsultation #supportlocal #smallbusinesswinnipeg #helpingeachotherintimesofneed

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