What I’ve Learned Working from Home

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home office
My “fancy” home office on a card table complete with an old curtain and dining room chair.

We’re like a lot of families. We both work outside the home. One kid is in school and one goes to daycare. We coach little league, hang out with friends, like date nights, and enjoy crowded places, like Cyclone football games.

Enter COVID-19.

Instantly, my job turned from the fun kind of marketing and communications to straight-up crisis communications. And, we were all home. Together. All the time.

Learning to do your job from home and having your entire family around while you do it is no easy feat.

5 Things I’ve Learned While Working From Home

Here’s what I’ve learned about working from home over the past couple months.

Consistent Schedules are Unrealistic

We naively went into the first week thinking we should stick to a normal schedule. You know, getting all the work done between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Riiiiight.

We quickly learned “the day” was every waking hour. Sometimes work gets done at 6 a.m. and sometimes it gets done at 9 p.m. During the “normal” day, we prioritize meetings and do other types of work at unconventional times.

My husband working on math with our son in his “office.” AKA: Our bedroom.

Physical Presence Doesn’t Mean We’re Present

When our school district released virtual learning, we let our second grader go to town. He’s good at school and we took for granted he didn’t need us. We focused on work. He slowly got weepy and more frustrated about school.

But we’re here, right? He could just ask us when he needed something. Nope. One of us was always on the phone, computer, or distracted. Finally, we realized he needed us to focus on him even if he understood the lesson (duh, right?).

We used to leave work at work until the kids went to bed. Now, work happens all the time. We had to be more conscious of putting distraction-free kid time back into the day even if it was at weird times or just for a little bit.

The Work Mullet

I stole this saying from my friend. Basically, you have it together from about the shoulders up. Sweaters and necklaces with sweatpants? Yep! I only do this for important meetings. The people I see every day know I’m usually rocking the hat and a sweatshirt.

Work Mullet
The “work mullet.” A sweater with leggings!

The Kids

There are days when they do school work, their chores, and are overall well-behaved humans. Somedays, they’ll be in the “dorm room” eating Cheetos, drinking pop, playing video games and I’m not entirely sure they ate lunch. Then, they’re sassy and have video-game eyes. My husband says almost daily, “How are we going to undo this?” I’m not worried about it. It is what it is and some days are better than others.

Getting More Done

There’s something to be said for remote work. I am making headway on some pretty big, long-term projects I’ve always struggled tackling in the office. Sure, I like seeing my co-workers and hearing about their lives. But, it’s amazing what you can accomplish on a quiet patio as the sun comes up with nothing but your laptop and good coffee.

Before, I’d spend 40+ hours a week in the office. Why would I spend my morning working? I was headed into the office anyway so it just made my day longer. Now? That distraction-free time getting stuff done means I have more time to spend with the kids between meetings during the day.

What’s Next?

If I am being completely honest? Going back to normal will be tough. I do need a better balance than what we have right now. But, this has taught me the “8 to 5” may not be the most efficient way to live a life or get work done.

If you’re part of a company and have influence on worker productivity and happiness, I’d encourage you to assess your employees in some way. I bet you will be a better company on the other side of this.

Often, people in leadership positions aren’t raising small kids. They may have forgotten how much being able to work a different schedule than 8 to 5 matters. Being home by 4 to get the kids off the bus? That can make all the difference in the world. Being able to work from home a few times a month without it being a big deal? That could lead to happier employees! As long as work is still getting done, of course.

What Have You Learned?

It feels like we’ve all been thrown into this like some kind of giant social experiment! Learning tips to manage this from others can help us all. So, share away! What have you learned while working from home?

 

 

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