As someone who typically works from home when not traveling, the impact of COVID-19 office closures has had limited impact on me to this point. For those who are accustomed to working in an office environment, the impact has often been profound. Meeting challenges require adjustment, both personal as well as family adjustments.
When I started working from home again several years ago, I found there were quite a few adjustments that I had to make, as well as adjustments on the part of my family. The fundamental adjustment, for my part, was maintaining a routine similar to what I had in the office. For example, adhering to consistent and ‘normal’ work hours. That is to say, normal in the context of the amount of time and specific hours I would typically work in an office environment – definitely not your typical 9-5 office workday. Managing activities within those typical work hours is also a key aspect of adjustment.
Deviating from a pattern that is consistent with your ‘normal’ very quickly begins to negatively impact your productivity. Your ability to concentrate for extended periods of time is also compromised by this, as well as being exacerbated by the interruptions that take place within the home, especially when the entire family is shut in together and is struggling with that adjustment.
Here are some suggestions on how to adjust:
Adjustments, especially with young children or elderly in the home, will be more difficult and will take more time for the adjustments to take hold and become part of the new normal. The younger the children are, or the older the elderly, the more time it will take.
Just as important as it is for children to understand that having their mother and father home doesn’t mean constant playtime and for them to be the center of attention, working parents also need to understand that any adjustment period will be different for each child. Having them ‘help’ you with work for short periods of time during the day can help them get the attention they want, as well as have a sense of participation and contribution.
We also need to remember that the ‘new normal’ will likely include far more Work from Home situations for an extended period, or even on a permanent basis. The adjustments we make now will always prove valuable, even in the office environment.
Your work ethic is a key to success, regardless of where you work. Enjoy working at home. It can be a blessing to be with family. Embrace it and cherish it – you may have to go back to the office soon.
Douglas Montgomery is a Senior Director, GRC Solutions with over 30 years of experience in business process reengineering, systems design and implementation, and continuous improvement.