2020 was a historic year. And while we picked up habits necessary to continue working and living as normally as possible, despite the abnormal, it’s time to live like it’s a new year.
Last year, the stress of a world-wide pandemic and worry for our health and the health of those close to us was joined by the stress of learning how to work in a new environment, even though that new environment may have been our very own bedrooms. Even the way we thought about the work/life balance was muddled when our office and living room became one in the same. Here’s a reminder about how we transitioned into remote work from the American Psychological Association, the article giving tips for remote employees looking to cope in their new “offices.” In another article, Forbes explores the mental health of remote workers and the future of remote work and workplace mental health.
The habits we picked up in 2020, from working overtime at home to wearing pajamas for Zoom calls, weren’t necessarily bad (in many cases, we made those decisions to stay afloat) – they just weren’t sustainable. It’s no longer the beginning of lockdown, and we’re not fighting to find out how to work from home anymore. In 2021, let’s implement habits that we can use for decades to come, to #ThriveInThePandemic and beyond.
Build habits that are timeless
So, you’re ready to reevaluate your habits. Instead of restructuring your entire day, consider implementing these four tips so you can thrive:
- Create a work/life balance – The pandemic has shown us we can work from anywhere at any time – but we need to learn how to use our tech responsibly and keep our health in mind. The cost of over working ourselves can take a toll on our mental and physical health. Mental Health America offers some insight into the risks of an unbalanced work life; and suggestions on how get it back in balance.
So leaders, emphasize that employees should have their “off” time truly off, away from the screen. Make it clear that you have their back and let them know that their time off is respected but will also be honored.
And employees, be sure to hold your time off as sacred. Protect your time outside of work hours because your personal time matters. This article from the Mayo Clinic has additional suggestions on how set boundaries to achieve the best work life balance and keep you healthy.
- Create a strict workspace – Being able to go in and out of the office in days past helped us keep our work and life separate. We had one space for working and another for living. But as we all know that’s not what this past year has allowed us to do. And while it would best if we all had a home office to mimic our work office, that is simply not possible for everyone. So, as we continue to work from dining tables, couches and beds, let’s look at ways to set an optimal workspace at home.
Forbes has some great ideas you can implement to help you navigate your small home office. Here are a few tips.
- Find a spot with good lighting. A spot next to a window is great, but if that isn’t possible, finding a good lamp that mimics daylight might do the trick.
- Find a good spot for the inevitable video call. Good lighting, background and camera angle will make you look and feel professional. Check out this article on best practices for virtual calls.
- Block out your day and stick to a schedule. A good time block app, or just a simple phone timer is a great way to break up the day’s tasks.
- Put you work away at the end of the day. Putting away your computer, changing your outfit, meditating are all good ways to get yourself out for work mode. Check out this article for more ideas.
- Make the space feel like your own. Just like protecting your time, protect your workspace. Setting up meaningful pictures, fun coffee mugs, or your favorite scented candle. Any way you can, make it your own.
- Set routines – Setting routines ensures you are capitalizing on your workday. Become accustomed to starting your work at the same time each day, even if you’re working from home. Grab your coffee and head to your designated workspace and get ready to succeed!
- Block out time. If you struggle taking time for certain tasks, put that time in your planner or calendar, whether physical or via Outlook or Google. Work to protect that time. For example, if you struggle taking time for professional development, and would rather respond to emails or do something more “productive,” consider time-blocking and scheduling meetings around that time, not during. Read this article to get the most out of your time blocking.
- Set a timer on your phone for lunch and any other breaks. When working from home, breaks can become inconsistent. If you struggle taking a consistent lunch or break, consider setting timers on your phone – one for when the break should begin, and one for when it should end.
- Get used to virtual workspaces – Even when COVID-19 no longer poses a threat, it’s likely virtual work, whether working remotely, hosting virtual meetings and events, or attending more webinars than in-person conferences, is something that will remain. Virtual work is convenient, accessible, and easy. As we accept this, we must be sure to make the best of remote communication.
Here are our tips for continual thriving in a heavily virtual workforce:
- Turn off your own thumbnail in Zoom meetings. Read this Slate article on how to do this and why it may help you in meetings
- Create a feeling of connection by looking directly at your webcam while speaking. LifeHacker lists this and other ways to increase connection with others during virtual meetings
- Watch out for Zoom fatigue. Not everything warrants a virtual meeting. Before you schedule a meeting with a teammate, consider whether a phone call would be just as effective. In an article from September 2020, Forbes gives detailed steps on how to combat Zoom fatigue.
- Take breaks when you need them. Know when you’ve reached your max screen time for the day. Find something that can be done without a laptop. Consider listening to a professional development podcast or reading a book to help hone your skills. Even taking a fifteen-minute break for a walk can ease virtual exhaustion, as well as clear your mind. This Fast Company article explains why breaks while working remotely are so important, as well as steps to capitalize on your breaks.
- Check out events offered by BBB. We offer numerous learning and networking events through the year. From our monthly Ambassador Coffee networking meetings to our TRUST Talk lunch and learn events, there is sure to be an event that helps you and your business thrive. For example, if remote training and onboarding is a challenge for your team, consider attending our April TRUST Talk event, planned for 11 a.m. April 29, focusing on that exact topic. For more information on our events, head to BuildWithBBB.com/Events.
We are coming up on the year anniversary of quarantine, and it’s likely we have some routines and habits it’s time to break. While life may seem redundant now, don’t use autopilot through this season. Make the most of your days by following our tips and building goals that will make your life post-pandemic even better. Find your balance between work and life and trust that you can #ThriveInThePandemic.