As someone who has who has worked from home for 10+ years – This is not normal, pay close attention to your needs and state of mind.
I’ve worked from home for more than 10 years, and in the last 3 or 4, Kate and I have both worked from home at the same time. It’s works relatively fine, it has its ups and downs. While there are stresses with two people WFH at the same time, it has some nice perks of being able to be social with someone as well. Note that Kate and I don’t have kids… so I cant even begin to understand the stresses that adds into this scenario.
Working from Home for me is working “mostly” from home… when I don’t have calls, or even if I do have some I am just listening in on, I will often go to a coffee shop, or even a brewery (cant take the WI out of the guy) to work for the afternoon. Sometimes I’ll take the motorcycle over lunch and ride somewhere to work remotely for the afternoon in the mountains or a change of scenery. It is refreshing and keeps things from getting claustrophobic.
The pandemic effect:
What makes WHF during the social distancing/quarantining different is the complete shut down of social escapes. No coffee shops, no work spaces, no gyms, no bars, etc… This has had a more dramatic effect than I would have expected on my day-to-day life. So someone going into WFH for the first time, and potentially for 8+ weeks, and not having any of the social escapes… this has to be a crazy whiplash. I have seen coworkers show signs of stress, depression, anger, paranoia, etc… already in under 1 week of this quarantine/social distancing. So pay attention to yourself and others.
If this whole event is causing some mental stress and warning signs for someone who has been working from home for a decade, I expect this to have high chance of messing with most new WFH folks.
Do what ever you can to remain “social” while maintaining distance:
- Call more than IM or use video if you want when talking to coworkers. When I do IM, when appropriate I do inject a lot of humor, and probably too many meme GIFs. (I am a pretty snarky and sarcastic person in my job…)
- Where appropriate inject more humor, levity… heck, find a common enemy/stress to bond over. (common enemies may be people or situations, I focus more on situations and stresses.)
- Go out for walks… get the fuck out of the house at least once a day – while maintaining the social distancing guidelines. It doesn’t need to be far or fancy, just walk… listen to some music, disconnect.
- Talk to people as people. Everyone is dealing with mental stresses adapting to this current life. I have yet to find someone who wont value engaging in at least a few words about “How are you doing?” It doesn’t need to be big, or elaborate, just ask. And if someone asks you, respond as honestly as you feel comfortable.
- Pay attention to toxic influences in your life. Know what you want to spend mental energy on, and what you should not during this time. I’ve left/snoozed 5 or 6 FB groups, defriended a few people, and snoozed some others to help lessen the burden right now and it’s helped a lot.
- Find an end of the day treat for yourself – a good bottle of wine, a nice beer, or something to signify the end of the work day.
- Find ways to engage with friends while you are both locked away. We started trying to video chat with friends while playing games online having some drinks. Is it as fun as playing games at the same table? No, but it is pretty damn fun still.