A few (pre-pandemic) months ago, I made the switch to a full-time remote position after more than two decades of working in a traditional office. I began writing this article to speak to other newcomers about my unexpected struggles, never realizing that before I’d complete my first draft, a global crisis would force millions into remote work situations for the first time.
Today, so many are performing from home the same duties they once did — much more easily — in an office, or a classroom, or wherever “onsite” was for them. Even folks who split their time between home and office are feeling the pressure, as COVID-19 safety mandates have eliminated choice.
If this is you, you’ve probably read the articles on creating an ideal home office. And the articles on combating loneliness and isolation. And the ones promising how much more productive you’ll be as a remote employee. But nothing still has quite prepared you for the full-time remote adventure, and you’re feeling like the challenges ahead are insurmountable.
This week I circled back to the thoughts I’d jotted down on this topic — thoughts that I assumed would become a helpful article one day, and I realized that they simply weren’t as relevant now as they were a short time ago. But one thing is always relevant: hope. So rather than telling you about the numerous distractions I faced when I began working from home — you already know! — here are some hopeful, encouraging messages and advice from the staff at Oomph.
“It’s OK to be stressed right now for weird reasons or for no reason at all. It’s normal. You’re normal. Your brain is adjusting to change, and it will get there soon!”
— Kim Domenick
“Being in the same place as your family but not being available (because you are trying to get work done) is a big adjustment. You are physically in one place and mentally in another. Give yourself time to adjust to that reality. It’s not easy for anybody.”
— J. Hogue
“Humans don’t do well with uncertainty. Add some consistency to your day. Start with making your bed and getting dressed. Keep it easy.”
— Kathy Beck
“Be kind and patient with yourself, especially if you're working from home for the first time, much less with the kids home. Recognize that you're human and can only do so much in a single day. The rest of the world is going through this with you. We're all experiencing the same feelings of stress, uncertainty and inefficiency.”
— Jordan Perkins
“The keys to my successful and happiest work from home experiences are morning yoga routines, healthy breakfasts, and (lots of) coffee! When the weather is nice, I like to finish out my day with a walk. That transition time between work life and after work life is important.”
— Julie Elman
“In an office environment, isolation can be great for productivity. But when working from home, the opposite can be true: Connect with co-workers as often as your schedule allows to gain a fresh perspective, to socialize, or just break up the day.”
— Brian Hogue
“Wear pants. Take productive breaks.”
— DJ Kadamus
“That extra two hours per day that used to be used for commuting can now be filled with impromptu dance parties with your kids or hiding quietly in a closet during a very long and peaceful game of Hide 'n Seek.”
— Elissa Thomas
“For people that aren’t always direct, go outside your comfort zone and make sure you’re letting your team know what you need and expect. Things that could be read through facial expressions and body language in person will now require words. Also, be gracious with your team and yourself while adjusting. Trust in people’s good intentions.”
— Jana Aubin
“Being at home alone doesn’t mean you need to remain isolated. Be sure to schedule purely social 15-20 minute touchpoints with colleagues, and delight in seeing other faces. Plus — a scheduled video call can help with any needed daily motivation to brush your hair.”
— Ellen Diamond
Going full-time remote can be challenging, even in the best of circumstances. For those who neither wanted, nor had adequate time to prepare for, this change, it’s been exceptionally hard.
But look at where you are today versus where you were a week ago, a month ago. You may not have it all figured out, but I bet you’ve accomplished a thing or two. I know you can do this, and you can do it successfully, because you already are!
Some extras from our Twitter feed and the Internet
Look how much you’ve already managed to adapt to. Look how resilient you’ve already been.
Enjoy homemade breakfasts and lunches you normally wouldn't get in the office! 🍳🥙
Do your best to maintain your usual working hours. It's tempting to flex your time during the day, but you could end up feeling like you never really leave work and have alone, or family, time.
Your work is to feel your sadness and fear and anger whether or not someone else is feeling something. Fighting it doesn’t help because your body is producing the feeling. If we allow the feelings to happen, they’ll happen in an orderly way, and it empowers us. Then we’re not victims.
To keep your work efficiency (and mental sanity) top notch, take a break every once in a while. Declutter your workspace, call your mother, feed your dog, order pizza… anything’s fine as long as it doesn’t exceed 10-20 minutes.