March 30, 2020 at 01:15AM
Some of us have been running our business from home offices for years, but for many this is a new experience, and we are finding it can entail a good degree of isolation.
We spoke yesterday with a woman who works for a large insurer. She was optimistic when she first heard her team would be working from home. “No boss looking over my shoulder or co-workers interrupting,” she said. “How bad can that be?” It didn’t take long, however, for an extrovert like her to begin feeling lonely.
Such feelings can be exacerbated for those who live alone or are self-quarantined. Many will go entire days without speaking with another human being. Left unaddressed, feelings of isolation like that can fester and even lead to burnout.
We’ve found it’s important to be deliberate each day to avoid the challenges found in working from home. Here are a few tactics we’ve seen used to good effect:
1. Create your own social community.
Just hours into this current crisis, our good friend and executive coach Marshall Goldsmith sent out a daily meeting invite to his 100 Coaches Cohort. Every morning now we join an hourlong Zoom call with Marshall and business leaders from around the world. It helps us stay in touch and learn what’s happening in Europe or Silicon Valley.
If you aren’t part of such a group of like-minded people, then start your own regular call with colleagues in your organization or those from your online community who have similar interests. Share news and thoughts on how to survive and thrive. Our team at The Culture Works uses a Slack channel, and we are on there all day long sharing ideas and chatting—recreating the connected feeling we got by standing around the water cooler back in the day.
2. Enjoy a virtual coffee.
Meet for a few minutes on a Zoom or Skype call with a cup of coffee (or your favorite beverage) and a group of friends. Social interactions, even when digital, can help us feel more connected. And good friends can provide support and help you see glimmers of hope in times of trouble. As such, limit your stories of doom and gloom to the first few minutes and then spend the rest of the time lifting each other.
3. Get outside.
While still maintaining social distancing, it’s usually possible to work for an hour a day on your balcony, porch, or even a folding chair in your yard. Weather-permitting, getting out and giving yourself a new perspective is crucial for well-being, and a change of scenery can get your creative juices flowing. If Mother Nature won’t cooperate, find a new room in your house to work for a block of time or even a new window to look out of.
4. Invest in yourself.
With no commute and fewer face-to-face meetings, you’ll probably end up with more time than normal to focus on personal growth and development. It’s a good idea to limit exposure to the news (catch up once or twice a day) and instead read or listen to a book on a subject that will help you grow in your career. We are going to get through this, and won’t it be better to come out on the other side stronger, more capable, and better educated?
To that end, be intentional and disciplined. At the end of your workday, map out your next day, keep your calendar full (even if you block it with time to work), and set goals every day to push yourself.
5. Be more grateful.
Expression of gratitude for those who help you in your daily work at home can be huge motivation and productivity boosters to those around you. Gratitude is also really good for us. Studies have shown that expressing gratitude brings a lift to our psyches and even our health, is a bulwark against depression, boosts satisfaction with life overall, and leads to better sleep. Write a thank-you note, send a video of thanks, or call someone out of the blue to say why you appreciate them. The more gratitude we offer to others during tough times, the happier and more resilient we will be.
The bottom line.
Working from home doesn’t have to be lonesome. A few positive habits can help you feel more connected and reduce your risk of burnout.