As Working From Home takes its roots across industries, women professionals all over the world are coming to terms with what seems to be a long haul of this new working dynamic – a new way of working at home and a new way of managing your official responsibilities from home. It is a big change in the whole parlance. It will take some acceptance to handle this significant change where our lives once used to entail interacting more with our colleagues and less with our families, during working days.
A typical working day in the pre-Covid era, would entail rushed mornings with all at home getting ready to step out of the house for the day. And once you are out on the road, after getting the breakfast and lunchboxes done, sending your kids to schools, getting the maids to wrap up chores, you geared yourself towards the office and the pile up of work, meetings and interactions out there. A clear separation line being your stepping out of the house and bringing in a new set of people into the scenario. And as the sun set, you used to step back home and connect with your family.
Covid has changed the whole people interaction dynamics. And the positions have been gravely impacted. We, as a family, are not used to being together all the time. We, as part of a team at office, are not used to working without the team around us.
A double whammy.
So with this reversed situation now, how does one carry on smoothly and manage it.
While all of us are learning the ropes still, here are few things that seem to work well for a lot of women in my social and professional circle.
At the home front, with the maids and cooks not available, life has not been less than a roller coaster ride. With increase in duties in the kitchen and housekeeping front, every other house has evolved some kind of a routine. However, when it comes to people issues, twisting the well known saying a bit, I would say ‘proximity breeds claustrophobia’ and it is time we bring in some small changes in our approach as homemakers to smoothen things out.
First and foremost, set aside a ‘Me’ time for your self. Every day, irrespective of the pressures of running a household, block some time for yourself. Meditate, exercise, read a book, practice your vocals or whatever. Do spend some time alone.
And follow these small but effective rules for the family:
- Distribute the household chores amongst the family. Run your house like a live CMMI Level 5 project. Prepare a plan for the week, allocate tasks, monitor and review regularly. And swap the duties on a weekly basis. Maybe use the weekend to plan things out. If needed, you can even do a root cause analysis and come up with improvements too. Trust me, it helps!
- Lower down your perfection standards. Be realistic and set some decent expectations. In these times, we cannot aim for perfection in everything we do. Definition of a clean house varies from person to person. So try to be a little flexible (it is personally a very difficult task for me!), but at least try. So a geographically shaped roti by your husband or son needs appreciation!
- Appreciate family members for every small task they do. This is all new to them too and is of course difficult. Hence everyone looks for some encouragement.
- Postpone your reaction to situations. Living together under one roof with no respite to step out is extremely tough. Do not react to every single incident you see. Learn to ignore a few cases as well. It will help maintain the balance and sanity of the household.
- Do some fun activities. Remember, lockdown is a bonus time with family and you do not have to pay for those exorbitant vacations. It is a good time to strengthen some relationships within the family. Set up Gadget Free Play Time where everyone should do an activity together, maybe play some board games. You can also plan an extended family session over a video conference and build better bonds across the family.
All of this can feel overwhelming enough without our office responsibilities! We all seem to be working non-stop. Working from home is a new concept for most of us. While most of us are still finding our bearings there, it is important that we lay some guidelines there too. There are, no doubt, countless benefits to working from home, but research shows that being ‘always on’ and accessible by technology leads to the blurring of work and non-work boundaries. Moreover there is stress around due to lesser face to face interactions and more online conversations.
I work with a company which encourages remote working, so am used to working remotely a few days in a week. Here is what I would recommend you should do to adapt to the new way of working and make it a fruitful experience.
- Set up a dedicated place for work. Having a small home office setup helps. A proper desk and a good work chair are better than a backache triggered by working on the sofa with your laptop. Keep your desk clean and tidy. Make sure you have a wall or background that suits a Skype or video call with colleagues.
- Invest in the right equipment and set up your home office as best you can, with an external monitor, mouse and keyboard for your company desktops/laptops, and a decent chair and desk.
- Try and plan your day in a typical pre-Covid style. Wrap up chores, make breakfast, prepare lunch (no boxes), get dressed and step into your office area or room. If you have babies or young children at home, plan this schedule around your babysitting times.
- Have more frequent interactions with your team. Now that you do not have face to face interactions, video conversations can help. In addition, plan some virtual coffee sessions or fun games activities that help in keeping the momentum.
- Do take breaks in between. While office gave us the luxury of corridor or cafe conversations, being at home makes it imperative that we walk around every few hours to keep the energy levels going.
And with that, let us try and handle this new way of managing our entire life from home.
And ace it like a queen, as we always do.