Remote work certainly has its perks, but for many of us, it also has its challenges. In this blog series, we’ll focus on the home office, discussing ways to adapt and conquer—both as an employer and an employee. This is post 21 of the series. You can follow the rest of the series and read our past posts here.
March 2020 will forever live in infamy. Those were the last few days that most companies required their employees to come into their office. People went about their normally scheduled workdays. Some even went to get a drink or two after with coworkers. And then just like that, everything changed.
It’s been several weeks since quarantine truly began and the lives we once lived feel like a luxury of the past. At first, working from home was kind of exhilarating in the tamest way possible. The opportunity of working from your couch provided a nice change of scenery. You would get giddy while preparing for a Zoom get together or happy hour with friends. Ordering take out every night was a must, because, why not? But now we’re deep into quarantine and the exciting novelties of the early days have just worn down. Your couch feels less comfortable, Zooms are few and far between with summer in full swing, and you’ve sampled every appetizer take out platter in a 5-mile radius of your home. Needless to say, the quarantine funk is real.
But until shelter in place restrictions are truly lifted, this is the life we are forced to live to ensure the safety of ourselves, family, and friends. Instead of letting boredom and pessimism settle in, counter attack it with a new gameplan. That’s what a few of our employees did. Here’s some advice from them on how to avoid quarantine funk getting to you.
Switch up your daily work routine
Wake up. Eat Breakfast. Work. Eat Lunch. Work. Eat Dinner. Sleep. Rise & Repeat. These monotonous motions that working from home has become are definitely a major contributing factor to the quarantine funk. That’s why it’s encouraged to try and switch the routine up every so often so that it doesn’t affect your work productivity or your mental well-being. Read also: How To Avoid Burnout While Working From Home
“It’s very easy to get sucked into your job and be working 24/7, which was actually happening to me when quarantine first started,” recalled Lisa Samson, Managing Director of Business Operations. “The way I’ve changed it up is by making the most out of my day during my scheduled work hours and setting some boundaries for myself. This ensures that I am accomplishing what I need to do within the hours that I’m supposed to be doing it.”
If that’s as simple as swapping your morning work schedule with your afternoon tasks, then so be it. The goal is to stay mentally fresh while ensuring that your work isn’t compromised in the process. For Lisa, it meant fewer breaks during her actual work hours.
“I wanted to ensure I had more time for myself in the hours before work in the morning and the hours after work in the evening. I stopped leaving my apartment during lunch because that would cut into “me time” after work. A break here and there is fine. It’s all about being more efficient while I’m working.”
Find creative ways to refocus
If the quarantine funk is distracting you from your work, try new and creative ways to refocus.
“In the past when something like this has happened, specifically during the 2008 recession, I’ve had to figure out a way to keep working at a productive level while also making sure my clients didn’t forget about me,” says Jill Bragg, a VP and 15-year Execu|Search veteran.
For Jill, work is as exhilarating as jumping out of a plane. She loves what she does and is not letting the current circumstance affect her mindset or work productivity. She’s actually embraced the challenge.
“When I would go on client visits, I’d always make notes to myself with things I saw in their offices or desks. Pictures of kids, pets, trips they might’ve taken, that kind of stuff. And when I reach out to them via email or even with a phone during quarantine, I want to make sure it’s a little more than business,” she says. “You want to be friendly, you want to be engaging, and you want to make a lasting impression. Everyone is handling this differently, so going into any conversation with any of my clients I’m trying to keep it professional, but also as personable as possible. People need that now. Hey, I need that now.”
And it works, for Jill at least. For others who love their job and the thrill of being productive, you in a sense have to make it a game for yourself. Give yourself goals for each day. Some easily attainable, others more difficult. Challenging yourself to get out of your regularly scheduled programming and comfort zone will keep you engaged, working harder, and help avoid any burnouts that come with the repetitious situation that we’re currently in.
Eat well and get out
Staying healthy in all facets of the word is a quarantine goal for us all. Believe it or not, your emotional and mental health directly correlates with your physical health. Learning to cook or expanding your culinary skills is a great way to consume your time while also ensuring that what you’re putting into your body is good for you. Read also: 12 Easy Recipes To Make While Working Remotely
“It was so easy to just order takeout almost every day when this first started,” said John Carey, Senior Director of Technology. “No one really knew it would be like this for this long, so I was just ordering from all my local spots regularly. But that obviously wasn’t sustainable. Now that we’re in month five, I’ve been cooking almost all my meals at home and trying out new recipes. I actually look forward to cooking each day.”
Cooking gets you up and active, but you should make it a point each day to get away from behind your computer screen and off your couch to get some fresh air. Regularly going for walks, runs, and/or exercising helps relieve stress and gives you a routine to abide by while avoiding stagnant, depression-inducing inactivity that can contribute to your quarantine funk.
John added, “Whether it’s before work, during lunch, or after work, I’m making good use of my bike daily. It’s good exercise and a great way to break up the monotony of the day. You don’t want to have that Groundhog Day feeling of living the same day over and over. So switch it up and ride a different path when you can.”
Treat yourself (and your family/friends if you can!)
It’s easy to lose touch with yourself through all this, but even easier to lose those interactions with friends and family or the camaraderie of coworkers.
“I was working on a long project with one of my coworkers who went back home to Upstate New York to quarantine with her family,” recalled Julie Maurer Kirsch, a Senior Director of Technology. “We were in contact multiple hours a day and working hard together, but in our downtime, we would just chat about missing the regular things and she brought up how much she loves truffles. The next day while I was at Trader Joe’s, I saw their ‘truffle ketchup’, and knew I had to send it to her! Doing something like that for a friend is a great feeling.”
Whether it’s food, a gift, some cocktails or just a nice message, preoccupying yourself with caring and doing something nice for loved ones and closed friends is as therapeutic and fulfilling for you as it is enjoyed by them.
“I’ve been sending funny greeting cards, puzzles, cold brew, cocktails, etc.,” admitted Julie. “The whole reason why I started doing it is because I love receiving packages. They make me happy, so I figured they could be an easy way to put a smile on my friends’ faces. If I can make their day, then why not?”
During a time when things seem a bit endless, it’s these little things that keep us going and keep the quarantine funk away.