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2020 Modern Family…Working From Home with Family

Working from home can be an adjustment for anyone, then add in the distractions that come from significant others, kids, and four-legged friends, which can make things get overwhelming before it’s time for that second cup of morning coffee. The truth is, no one can control what happens next. Focus on actions, not outcomes. 

The PERKS team is fully remote, so we have a few tips to share, but we are also in this uncharted territory of adding in extra bodies to the household together. We are all trying to adjust while trying to stay afloat with work. For our part, we’re continuing to focus our daily actions and fulfilling our company purpose of transforming our working world.  Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned and will continue to prioritize in the coming weeks:

Step 1: Take three deep breaths. No, seriously. This is a marathon, not a sprint. There is a lot of unknown right now, so no one knows how long we will be kept in tight quarters or how everyone will adjust. Be extra patient with yourself. It’ll help keep the house more zen, which is what we all need. Plus, we all know that stress decreases your body’s immune system’s ability to fight illness…

 Step 2: Find your space. You might need to go down to the basement, find a corner in the attic, work from your kitchen table, or from your deck (lucky!). However, finding a space can be crucial in creating a new normal. Everyone has their specific ways to layout their work materials. Having a set place to work will help keep you organized and be your most productive self.

Step 3: Prioritize, then take a minute and reprioritize. You should do this every day. Consider how you work best. For example, will setting long term goals increase your anxiety and cause more distraction? Or will focusing on the long term, redirect your attention during the short term chaos. 

Step 4: Tell your friends and family to not contact you during the day. Speaking from personal experience, some friends/family are under the impression that working from home means you aren’t working. Daily distractions from these folks can really impact your productivity, leading to more stress to meet already tight timelines. Kindly remind them to keep contact during “normal business hours” to a minimum and strictly for emergencies.

Step 5: Communicate. Both with your employer/employees and with your family. 

Employer- Yes, we all want to be the office hero and miraculously get our normal level of work done, but you must be honest with yourself and your work. There are plenty of things that you want to get done, but figure out what needs to get done and communicate that. Communication should be fluid and often. Especially for those offices who are not traditionally remote, team members will need time to adjust to how work is going for themselves and others on their team.

Family- If you have a really important call or project that absolutely needs to be done, let them know that. These are the times when you can stretch kids’ screen time (it’s okay), or rely on a significant other to switch around their schedule so you can have the time that you really need. Use these times carefully, you don’t want to be the one who cries wolf…

Step 6: Be flexible. If your four-legged friend really needs to get out and you’ve been juggling work all day, move your call to on-the-go. Be upfront with those on the call with what you are balancing and that it doesn’t mean you take the call any less seriously, you are simply juggling responsibilities. 

Step 7: Reach outside your comfort zone. Believe it or not, you will start to miss your employees. Instead of sending a long Slack message or email, ask them to video chat. It’ll be a nice opportunity to check in on each other and realize you are not alone. Added bonus, you’ll get to see your employees “new” office and maybe meet a few family members.

Step 8: Get dressed. It’s simple and seems ridiculous, but it really makes a difference. 

Step 9: Set your hours. Working from home can be a blessing and a curse. Your commute time all of a sudden has gotten much better. With that extra time there is more opportunity to get work done, but if you are someone who can lose track of time working on a project, set a calendar reminder or timer to take breaks. It’s also very easy to work a longer day, which may seem great at first to get ahead of your to-do list, but in the long run, it can really wear on you. Additionally, if you have a smaller child (or even an older one) that doesn’t have much independence, the precious work hours may be hard to get stuff done. You can make little adjustments like getting up with the sun or working later into the evening to help balance out the needs of family and work. After all, we are all going for extreme work-life balance right now. 

Step 10: Be realistic. Working from home with a full household will be an evolving setting. Chances of family members breaking down or needing more attention than you planned for is inevitable. For those of us with kids in school, trying to balance digital curriculums while working will be challenging for all parties. Remember that everyone (including yourself) may need more time than normal to adjust and that we are all a little scared. Keeping yourself grounded will lay the groundwork for your family and staff that are depending on you.

Lastly, embrace these opportunities to have extra time with your family members. For once this isn’t a scheduled lunch date with your significant other, it will be the temporary new normal. We wish everyone safe & healthy transitions into working from home and a quick rebound back to normal.

 

Wellness Resources:

    • Discussing COVID-19 with Children– Bright Horizons, a childcare provider, has put together some talking points that you may find helpful when discussing COVID-19 with children
    • Mental health– Online mental health platforms are available to provide support with everything from day to day stress to more challenging life experiences- accessible on your smartphone or computer. Depending on your employer’s plan, these resources may be available to you at no cost to you. To get started here are a few companies to check out: Journey Meditation, Joyable, Ten Percent Happier, Headspace.

 

-The PERKS Family 

Four staff, four significant others, five children, and two four-legged friends.