By Erika Osmundson, Director of Marketing & Communications
Many have found themselves thrust into working from home for the first time amidst this pandemic. The novel thoughts of working from home have become reality, only to realize that it isn’t all joy.
Throw in weak rural internet/mobile, two adults working from home in many cases, and possibly juggling kids, and you’ve got the makings for a stressful situation, before you even add in the potential health concerns of COVID-19.
This is new territory for many, and the fact is it is stressful. Here are a few tips to take a stressful situation and make it a bit better!
Sounds simple, right? Not always, especially when you consider an additional spouse or loved one possibly also working from home, or you have children milling around trying to stay occupied. The physical space is important, it provides the mental mindset each day. You can enter this space ready to work each morning and have a clear break from work each day when you leave, just like at the office.
Noise, this is a tough one. Do your best to find a spot with minimal noise or where you can get quiet if necessary. For example, you may need to be at the dining room table where your children are playing on the floor but could go to their rooms if quiet was needed temporarily. We are all in the same boat, pets, kids and ringing phones, we have noise distractions. Remember this and show compassion to others!
Stick to a Schedule
One of the best ways to bust stress is to stick to a routine. Start work at a consistent time each morning, take a break for lunch, and leave work at a consistent time each day. One of the challenges of working from home is that it is always there, and many people find themselves working longer hours. Guilty as charged? That is okay. If that is what works for you but be careful because it can lead to burnout.
Consider the root of working longer hours, if it is a project deadline and you just need to complete it, great. You probably would have done that before. In this time, and particularly for those juggling kids, there is a great contentiousness among accountable team players to put in time. This is great and what makes you an A player. From a mental health standpoint though, this can be exhausting and stressful.
Balance is the key. Yes, you may be taking a break here or there to attend to a child’s need throughout the day, but that is part of this situation and we just need to do our best. And even for those that aren’t juggling kids, sometimes you just need a break. Employers understand and if you have concerns, talk about it with your manager.
Devise a plan – that might look like adding 30 minutes to your day to account for those interruptions or only taking 30 minutes for lunch, but the expectation that this needs to be extreme is wrong. If you are an accountable employee you will figure it out, just don’t let the mental stress of it wear you down.
There is nothing like accomplishment. Organize and stick to your priorities. In times where you are most productive or have the quietest time, work on things that give you a sense of completion. Whether that is several small things or one big thing, there is no better motivator to keep going than getting something done and crossed of the ‘to do’ list (whether that is mental or written)!
To help with both the contentiousness piece and the accomplishment feeling, regularly connect with your managers and/or team and talk about the things that you’ve all completed. Take turns sharing in the successes and outcomes. This isn’t bragging, but rather celebrating the wins. This is the type of thing that happens in casual conversations at the office, right?
How to do that – there are a variety of tools. From Zoom to Skype, Teams to Google Hangout, there are plenty of platforms to choose from. In today’s world, your company probably has a preferred platform that you were already using before the pandemic.
Socialize beyond the work stuff and reach out. Being at home can feel isolating. There is a lot of talk about the effects on extroverts, but introverts feel this too. Oftentimes, work is the only time they socialize, so it is important to keep that going. Think compassion and caring – talk with each other about how you are doing. What is happening outside of work. The normal water cooler talk; but now it’s virtual.
Most importantly, if you’re not doing okay, reach out to your manager or HR lead. Employers are concerned for their employees. They care about your well-being. Don’t be ashamed if these times are challenging for you. They are for more than you think!
Working from home does have its perks, no commute! But, if you find your self stressed, consider these tips to help alleviate what stress you can.
If AgCareers.com can be of assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit AgCareers.com for other helpful resources. We have created a resource page to bring together relevant information on COVID-19 and the agriculture industry – USA and Canada. We wish you good health and safety during this time.