We have survived just over three months of the lockdown in South Africa with some of us are lucky enough to still have work and being able to work remotely to continue being productive and occupied. The experience has been varied, some of us have been going about our work with no real changes, others have been trying to get things done but often distracted with the changes of moving from the office to the home and then there are some wondering what ever made them want offspring.
We have put together some tips to help you deal with the overly used “New Normal”:
- Change is immutable
There is no doubt that a change has come and change has always been happening, whether subtle or completely disrupting our lives, we will always be facing change. This is not easy to avoid as our dependency on technology increases and advancements take place. The main thing to remember is… Don’t panic!!! Take it in your stride, control how overwhelmed you can get and if you need to, gradually expose yourself to these changes.
In our work, we have introduced Autodesk BIM 360 on some of our projects and though many of our external project team members have never been exposed to this way of working, after a little bit of teething and patience, work has been progressing more smoothly and things are coming together. As an internal tool, we use Trello to update each other on progress and tasks that need to be done by our support and admin staff. Cloud based solutions generally offer the best answers for connectivity in teams working remotely. We are keeping things simple but still adapting to the changes and managing how much change we introduce to the team. There are way too many options out there for data management, project management and admin processes, don’t be a victim of information overload.
Another thing to remember is, you are only in control of yourself and how you deal with change, you can’t control how others deal with change. Be patient with your co-workers, clients and basically everyone you speak to, we are all in the same situation and trying to navigate this world. Inevitably, accept change and be brave, you can do it!
- Your Working Ecosystem
You are an organism striving to be productive and make sure that your deadlines are met, and that you continue to improve your reputation, as well as your company’s. In order to be the best organism you can be, having an area dedicated to work is important. This ecosystem you create does not have to be high tech and take up a lot of space. Be creative and keep it simple with what you have. You don’t need to order the latest ergonomic office desk or mount an iPad to your wall, monitoring your performance and coming down upon you with notifications of great vengeance and furious anger for that deadline you did not meet.
If space is limited, you can adopt the idea that the space around you can be used for multiple tasks, I have a simple desk set up with my workstation in my open plan lounge kitchen area with a “To do” list that I hand wrote on the other side of wasted print paper. I also have my virtual meetings from this space and use the headphones that came with my smartphone to make sure I can hear and can be heard, with minimal distraction while on the calls.
The flexibility of this simple set up means that I can stand up, stretch and take a little walk regularly, exercise my eyes by looking at things out the window or door and get plenty of fluids. One thing I would not compromise on though, is a good chair, the value of a good chair will be felt in how well you sleep at night and avoiding lower back pain and shoulder tension. Remember, keep it simple and everything you need for a conducive work environment is most likely already around you.
- Knowing when to switch off
It can be difficult to draw the line and know when to switch off from work because ultimately, your home is now your office. But maintaining a balance is also the key to your sanity, it is easy to get consumed by the economic challenges and the bombardment of COVID 19 in the media. Beyond all the work, you still have friends, family and passions and you need to give them time too.
Plan your days and stick to some schedule of dedicated work time and down time. There will be days when the schedule goes to the way side and things have to get done but you can still find a balance in the week to exercise, play with the kids, catch up with friends and family and get away from constantly having a screen in your face. Take a walk outside if possible and get your vitamin D, grow some veggies, play with the dogs… Maintain your mental health!
You don’t need to follow trends and try to become a star home baker or get a million followers and become a “social media influencer”. It may be better to focus on the good things around you that you already have and improve your immediate relationships and passions. The value of who and what you have around you often goes unseen, but you now have the opportunity to give them the time they deserve.
We understand that everyone has their own unique condition to deal with through this time and we do not have all the answers. There are ways to manage the change and your environment and find a balance in life. The reality is that with a lot of unknowns, this virus is not going anywhere and chances are, the number of infections is likely to rise… after all… Winter is here!!!
Stay at home, stay safe and embrace what you have around you, this too shall pass.