Are you and your team working remotely during the coronavirus outbreak? Here's how you can stay focused and on task, while helping your team to do the same.
- The coronavirus, COVID-19, has radically changed the way global citizens live and work, with many employees now working remotely.
- Remote work situations vary for employees. Some work in an empty house, in the same space as their roommates, or with spouses and children present. The coronavirus, however, has limited the options for remote workspaces to the home.
- If you start to feel cabin fever that interferes with getting your work done, there are ways to regain focus.
News changes by the hour about the spread of the coronavirus. COVID-19 is a global pandemic, impacting countries, citizens and businesses around the world. In the United States, citizens are being encouraged to practice social distancing and to avoid social gatherings of 10 or more individuals. Some states are closing bars and restaurants, schools have closed, and many companies are allowing employees to work from home.
Some employees are already remote workers and adept at juggling their work in their living space. Others may require a bit of time and training to ease into the new process and work with their team.
Not every remote work situation is the same. Some may be working at home with their spouses and/or children around them. Others may have roommates. Still others may live and work alone. Regardless of what your home life looks like, you'll eventually settle into the pattern of waking up and getting dressed and prepared for the workday, which may be a few feet away with a laptop or in the next room in a home office space. Once the day is over, you'll leave the desk and head to the kitchen to start cooking or spend a bit of time with loved ones.
Before the coronavirus, there was the option to go to a coffee shop if you felt like you needed a change of scenery. You could also utilize a coworking space or drive to meet someone over lunch. It's a lot harder to do any of the above now. Some employees may find after working five days a week from home – and staying indoors during the weekends – that it is easy to develop cabin fever and feel even more isolated from the world.
Is there anything you and your team can do to collectively make the best of this situation? Absolutely.
1. Schedule chats with team members on the phone.
With today's technology, there are plenty of ways you can stay connected to your team members. You can message colleagues through Slack, host and join video conferences through Zoom, share documents and spreadsheets through G Suite, and stay in touch on social media platforms.
In spite of all these apps and platforms, sometimes you just feel lonely. You might want to hear a trusted colleague's or employee's voice rather than just messaging all the time. Share your phone number with your team members, but don't call them out of the blue, especially when they might be busy. Instead, pencil in a time to chat with a team member, one on one, if you have a question or would like to discuss how things are going on their end.
2. Make the most of this time and plan ahead.
During your work and increased downtime, consider possible ways to maxmize this time, making it count for the future.
- Pick up a project that you felt like you simply never had enough time for. You may have several items you've pushed to the side over time that are waiting for you to work on them. Focus on finally completing these side projects.
- Make plans with colleagues for future initiatives you'd like to start up that could be big wins for your business. Consider how luxury perfume makers like Dior and Givenchy are manufacturing hand sanitizer instead of perfume. Maybe there's a way your business can focus on a product the world needs right now and help produce it. If not, perhaps you can partner with a company working toward that goal and offer your support in achieving it.
- If you recently canceled a planned event your company was helping put on or is no longer able to attend, consider what you can do in its absence to bring in an audience. Maybe you'll start a podcast for your company. Think about it: You would be able to reach hundreds of people all at once and share your message without ever having to travel or share the same space. You might also volunteer to host a webinar or host a Twitter chat. Brainstorm with your team to see what their ideas are, and welcome as much creativity and fun as possible. [Read related article: 6 Ways to Amp Up Your Marketing and PR in the Age of COVID-19]
- Revisit your initial goals for the year. Some of these goals may be irrelevant now, but don't let that get you down – plans are always subject to change. Update the document accordingly and create new goals to reach instead.
- Always put the customer and their needs first. Return emails and and take calls as they come.
- If you have any difficulty working remotely, such as issues with your Wi-Fi, let your team know as soon as possible. Don't leave them wondering where you went!
- Great writers, artists and creatives often isolate themselves to produce original works like books and music. You could take advantage of your increased free time after work for personal development, such as learning how to knit or play an instrument.
3. Stay at home.
In a YouTube video from A Thing By, quarantined individuals all over Italy were asked to record a message to themselves from 10 days ago during the coronavirus pandemic. Why 10 days? Countries like the United States are believed to be 10 days behind Italy in COVID-19 progression.
The video starts off with individuals circa now greeting their past selves. They warn that a huge mess is about to happen. Many people, perhaps even they themselves, will underestimate it. It will be surreal, with a mandatory quarantine to stay home, as hospitals fight the infections. As one woman says in the video, "We should always be light in spirit, but not with our gestures."
Quarantined individuals plead with those watching not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. It will be difficult to do, they say. It will be a struggle not to go out and attempt to lead life as you once knew it. However, the more you heed these warnings and stay home, the more you can ensure your health as well as the safety of those around you.
Stay at home if you work remotely. Do not go out to a party or take a trip down to the beach. Make coffee at home, and only go out for necessary items at pharmacies and grocery stores. It may seem annoying now, but it will mean everything to countless others and yourself.
The video ends on an important message. It's one we may have difficulty relating to right now, but we will feel it soon enough:
"And relax, 'cause it will end soon."