When you work from home normally you will probably have a designated workspace or room where you can close the door.
During a pandemic, other family members might be home at the same time. Some of them might also be working from home. Others might require looking after. All of these things take up mental and physical space. So, how do you set boundaries? How do you find your own space to recharge? How do you take private calls?
When you are working from home normally, you can walk away from work and go and do activities outside with other people.
During a pandemic, you can’t go to the gym or your normal yoga class, therefore this really impacts your health as you can’t recharge or let off the steam. You also don’t get the time to socialize with your friends. No coffee shops. No favorite bars. Nothing. There is a lack of human contact which is crucial to mental well being.
When you are working from home normally, and if you have children, they are most likely at school or daycare. You will help them with their homework in the evening after you have finished with your daily work assignments. Or, you might also take them to events and after school activities so they can socialize with other children.
But working from home with children during a pandemic can be really rough, and many of you who are parents have probably already experienced the impact. Your children might very well need a set schedule and you are also in charge of their homeschooling. There is a reason you are not a teacher. Now having to play an integral role in teaching your kids on topics you are not familiar with is just an extra thing that has to take up brain space. Not to mention the fact that your children are not getting to see their friends or blow off extra steam. (Hope your house is still in one piece!)
Work from home policies have been hastily written but what they really should be is work from home during a pandemic kind of policies.
For some employers, this is their first taste of what having their staff work from home looks like, and most of the time they are really failing to take into account the fact that some staff will not be at their best during this time. So, expecting some unrealistic, super-productivity is just setting both your company and your employees up for failure.
On the other hand, for some employees, this is also their first taste of working from home and to be honest for most it has not been easy. At one company I was told they are telling employees the following: My company has implemented a new work from home report to show productivity. We have to report every hour, on the hour, what we have been working on and the time allocated to each task.
Such an approach certainly stems from terrible managers who don’t know of any other way to deal with employees. But should you be facing anything like this as an employee, make sure you write down the time you are taking to fill out the report and total up how much time that ends up taking per week. You could also use the form to note how often your work gets interrupted by people, phone calls, or zoom meetings. This all impacts your productivity. You could also automate this by using software like Toggl.
Employers need to understand that this is not the beginning of the work from home normal. Having compassion is key, but will everyone cooperate with compassion?