This article originally appeared in TecHR Series
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a variety of challenges that people had never imagined before. As the entire country pivoted their usual day to day activities, most companies implemented a work from home policy to increase public safety. With the onset of remote work, many people found that the line between their personal and professional lives blended. On top of that, as parents were starting to get in the groove of the “new normal” work environment, students began remote learning and hybrid educational courses, which presented an entirely new challenge. Now on top juggling their own deadlines, responsibilities, teams, and work schedules, parents also have to balance supervising their child’s learning environments. Fortunately, there are actions that parents can take to maximize their mental health as well as their work productivity.
Establishing a Proper Working Environment
While it may sound obvious, the most important step to ensure productivity during the workday is to create a dedicated working space. Rewind to a time before the pandemic when people would casually work from home once or twice a week, often slumped on the couch or checking emails from bed. While it is hard to break out of old and favorable trends, it is vitally important to do so for permanent remote work. Working from an area in the house that is away from distraction or outside factors is essential. To build one of these areas, it is best to find a space where one can find silence so they can focus as well as an area that is out of the line of sight of common areas in the house or apartment. Both of these easily lead to distractions which detract from both time and focus on work. Not only will it improve the person’s psychological mindset, it will lead to greater efficiency while performing tasks for work. It certainly can be hard to completely remove oneself from the distractions in their house but being able to do so for a few hours at a time will yield positive results.
Setting Work Hours
With the line between personal space and working space muddled, during the pandemic people have overworked themselves to the point of burnout. When most workers left the office before the pandemic, they were able to remove themselves from the working mindset. However, with workstations setup in visible places in someone’s apartment or house, it is easy to find themselves logging on after work hours. This can happen for a multitude of reasons. Whether it be that they were unproductive during the workday and are catching up to finish their projects, that they had another responsibility interrupt their usual workflow, or because other teammates might still be sending emails, it is becoming extremely tough to log off for the night. People grappling with their working environments leads to an extended day. The essential solution is finding a schedule that works for yourself. Every team member is dealing with something different during these times so creating a dynamic schedule that allows them to handle other responsibilities so they can minimize distractions when they need to work will lead to the best outcome. All of this begins with clear and open communication channels with other team members and bosses so everyone is on the same page about when deadlines can be met.
Taking Care of Others, Especially Yourself
While many states are still in their beginning steps of their reopening phases, families are spending more time with each other in their own homes than ever before. Spending additional time with family, while having its many perks, also unfortunately can have drawbacks in terms of concentration and proper working habits. Parents of younger children feel this pressure exponentially as they try to provide around the clock care of their dependents while still fulfilling the responsibilities pressed upon them by their careers. With children beginning their eLearning curriculum, parents are forced to supervise and, in some cases, continue teaching lessons after school hours end to ensure there are no holes in their child’s education. With all of these factors amassing and manifesting additional stress in someone’s life, it is vital that people take time for themselves during the workday. While it might seem impossible with the other tasks brewing, little activities like running an errand, talking a walk, exercising, meditating, or doing whatever other stress management techniques work, will make a huge difference.
While unordinary times have called upon people to perform extraordinarily and balance responsibilities they never imagined, it can be done in a fashion that benefits workers, their families, and their employers. It is important to remember that not everyone is working under the same circumstances. However, no matter the situation, you are not alone in trying to tackle the new working world. Supportive teams have empowered their colleagues to rise to the occasion and meet today’s never-ending challenges. Clear, open, and consistent communication between team members will help create realistic and manageable expectations. However, personal success starts with creating a proper distraction free workplace for oneself where they can set asides chunks of time to handle their responsibilities and ends with ensuring they take the proper time to themselves while still supporting those around them.