Social Distancing Edition: Coping with Working from Home When You Have To

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Introduction

So this world-changing thing happened quickly. Most of us are probably working from home right now. Normally, I would be thrilled to work from home. I truly don’t need to be in our company’s office to get my work done, except my firm allows it only as a perk. Gotta ask for it. Gotta deserve it. 

We were called to a mandatory meeting two Thursdays ago with 30 minutes’ notice, AND we had to watch two instructional videos, also mandatory, on Microsoft Team before the meeting. The word “mandatory” used to be rare. It suddenly became the word of the day. All regular work came to a screeching halt. That evening, our company sent out a notice to begin working from home as of that Friday, until further notice. Life changed in just a few hours.

Social distancing and WFH (work from home) have some definite benefits. I am saving lots on gas money. My 2006 Subaru Forester needs work and ate a lot of gas during the commuting era. The other thing is that I am not scrambling to leave the house in the morning to drive to work. If I leave early enough, it takes me less than an hour. If I dilly-dally, it takes way over an hour. I live in a congested suburb of Philadelphia, PA. Now I am sleeping in a bit and taking my time. That’s enjoyable.

But how are you all doing? How is working from home going? Do you have kids jolly-stomping all over the house while you are on the clock? Have your pets become your coworkers? Is your dog or cat splayed across your keyboard or napping in your lap while you’re trying to make your next urgent deadline? Should things not be working out for you in these strange times, I have compiled five articles that may help you.

Before the age of COVID-19, my company allowed me to WFH one day a week. This has been going on for a couple of years, so I consider myself experienced. Even so, this article, written by someone who has worked from home for years, got my attention because it asks if you have checked your hardware lately. I don’t know about you, but I check my hardware AFTER it breaks.Seems that’s the wrong answer. 

10 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Working From Home

I found this piece interesting because it mentions the pile of crap that accumulates. At first I thought, what pile of crap? By the end of the week, I thought, oh THAT pile of crap. I had a pile of work notes and personal notes and so forth. The other thing that resonated with me was the advice that, when your shift ends, close the laptop. This is harder for me to do because everyone else tends to arrive later in the morning while I am signed in by 7 AM. That means my colleagues are still working and meeting at 5 PM while I have signed off by 4 PM. This piece approached working from home a bit differently. I recommend it.

I Work From Home. Here Are Some Tips To Make It Easier

The next article resonated with me because the author urges you to get out of bed, get dressed, take breaks, and have some sort of a dedicated work space that is NOT your bed. For me, taking breaks is the hardest part. I am working on a “hot potato” project at work right now, and I never know when someone will want to chat via Microsoft Teams. The part about not losing your mind when you are housebound is also a biggie. Get your boundaries set and snack breaks ready.

How to Work From Home Without Losing Your Mind

Most, if not all schools have closed, and everyone’s children are being introduced to homeschooling. How are you coping? I don’t have kids, but I imagine it can be difficult. We have a new adopted two-year old Shih-Tzu- Lhasa-Poo mix zooming about. Every time I float near the front door to gaze out the window or don my jacket to get the mail, my doggie thinks it is time for another walk. I may have just returned from walking him, but nonetheless, he thinks it’s all about him. And kids think it’s all about them. If you have children underfoot while you’re trying your damnedest to remain productive, I recommend this article.

7 Tips for Working From Home With Kids When Coronavirus Has Shut Everything Down

This website knows no international boundaries, so this piece could be read by someone somewhere who has not been told to work from home, YET. Tips include making sure you have access (meaning you are able and allowed to remote into the office firewall) and selecting your workspace. An article worth reading.

How to Prepare to Work from Home on Short Notice

For those of you who enjoy podcasts and have room in your life for another one or two, here are some to help you cope with Social Distancing and the new normal.

14 Podcasts for Social Distancing, From Home Cooking to Homeschooling

And here are few for those of you who work in technical writing or affiliated industries.

TWi’s Favourite Technical Writing Podcasts

Conclusion

I don’t know about you, but being ordered to work from home feels different from asking to do so and getting permission, doesn’t it? Anyway, life has changed temporarily, and some parts of everyday living may be permanently altered. I hope these articles can help with at least one or two of your virus-related work-from-home issues.

Have a job-related, business, or tech comm website you’d like me to review? Have some tips or tools to share with your fellow technical communicators, information developers, and content creators? Let’s network! Drop me a note: HelpFiles@TechWhirl.com. Follow me or connect with me on LinkedIn, or email me at craig.cardimon@gmail.com. I enjoy connecting with others in the industry.

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