For the month of December we are thrilled to highlight Natalie Spooner, REAL (Relatable, Empowered,…
The transition from full-time, in-person/in-office work to working remotely from home is a difficult one. Having gone through it myself, I can completely empathize with the variety of emotions that many people go through during this hard time. The truth is, although working from home can sound ideal, it’s actually really hard to get accustomed to; especially if you’re an extrovert, social butterfly, who looks forward to in-person interactions on a daily basis and has built a routine around it. As someone who both works virtually from home and is a graduate student, where a majority of my work can be done remotely, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:
BE YOU, BE REAL – ALLOW YOURSELF TO FEEL.
It’s a hard transition and it’s okay to acknowledge this. Write out your feelings or talk to others about it. I promise you are not alone in this – and it’s okay to be feeling this way. Once you allow yourself to feel, you also allow yourself to grow and learn. I talked and cried to so many friends and even colleagues about how difficult the transition was, and I became super worried about sounding like a broken record, but being open and honest about it to others also allows you to build a network of support. This is also a great opportunity to find potential solutions and approaches to accept your feelings. Do you miss your workspace? Talking to people? Your routine? Then let’s build those and integrate them into your new work life. This is important for your mental health. And, on that note…
BUILD TO ROUTINE
For the first few weeks of work, I found it hard to get out of bed, get dressed, and really start my day. Some days, I’d work all day in my pajamas. Other days, I wouldn’t even get out of bed to work. Although for some, this may sound ideal, after happening for a few days… it’s really not. Switch things up! Set alarms (still) and find your routine. It might start with getting up and moving, whether it’s a workout, a run, or a stretch. My routine is rolling out of bed, checking out the news, pop into the washroom, brush my teeth, get dressed, make a pot of coffee and get online. I’m also fortunate enough to work with colleagues who help me keep up with my routine by setting morning (video) meetings, on a weekly basis, which also forces me to do put a bit more of an effort into my hair 😉.
On the flip side, if it’s a super early meeting and it’s not a video call, don’t also be afraid to take a call in your PJ’s! Then, once you’re done, get ready and keep going with your day. I also understand that some of this is easier said than done, which is where having an accountability buddy, be it a colleague or a friend, to check in on you and see where you are in your day, can be great to keep you accountable.
MAKE CONNECTIONS IN OTHER WAYS
Video calls, phone calls, and online communication tools have truly been saviors for me in remote work. Again, a hard adjustment to make but now, I have no idea how I’d function without them! From Facetime to Slack video calls to Zoom calls, being able to see peoples faces and chat with them makes a world of a difference. And it doesn’t have to be your coworkers that you call! If you’re an entrepreneur and have clients, try to take video calls where possible; or even call friends and have mini-working sessions or in-between work break calls. Communication with others is key.
I would also highly recommend joining online communities, either through Facebook or Reddit or wherever else, to build community with people in similar fields or circumstances. I’m a part of a few great Facebook groups for women academics and women in sport; sometimes, just reading stories or laughing at memes fills my cup.
You can check out one of our previous blogs on what Slack is and how it’s a great tool in team communication and team culture. Click here for more!
BUILD YOUR ‘ZONE’ & SWITCH IT UP ONCE IN A WHILE
One of the biggest frustrations I had in working remotely was not having a great workspace. I missed having drawers, shelves, photos surrounding me…but I didn’t miss anything more than I missed having a second screen. If your budget allows it, get some key quality things to build your work zone: a second screen (10/10 would recommend), an L-shaped desk, a whiteboard, and so forth. If your budget doesn’t allow it, no sweat!! I’ve ordered some quality and useful items from Amazon and have picked up a bunch of essentials from the dollar store. Note pads, a virtual mouse, pen holders – these things go a long way. If you build your workspace as a place you want to be in, something reflective of your personality, you become more inspired and actually want to sit down and work.
Another great tip is to also change scenery once in a while (I know, ironic – I just said build your zone and now I’m talking about leaving it). This could be working outside, at the kitchen table, off the couch – it’s okay to move around. It’s a nice little change! If possible, try to separate your workspace from your ‘home space’. A tip from Ali Hunter, our Event Support Coordinator: “I live with 2 kids and a husband who don’t always share my want for tidy workspaces. If the to-do list for home is too much before starting work, I move my workspace to a place in the house that’s tolerable.”
Is your meeting a conversation, and not a “work to be done while meeting” type of meeting? Then take it to go! Pop those headphones in and take a virtual walking meeting. It feels like you’re going on a walk with a friend, colleague or client while getting some daily movement yourself.
Check out some of our team’s work spaces: from Canmore to Toronto!
DON’T FORGET: BUILD BOUNDARIES AND TAKE BREAKS!
As a self-proclaimed workaholic, it can often be hard for me to not check my e-mails, turn off my Slack notifications and not jump to get things done in the evening; but the truth is that work will still be there tomorrow or after the weekend. That’s the point of working – to keep doing work. We can have projects and tasks and deadlines that we adhere to and finish but, really, there’s always something else or more that can be done, and that is ok. That’s why we work! So, don’t be afraid to set boundaries: turn off those notifications; hit that sleepy-time setting on your phone and do you. Setting boundaries is so important to make sure you are taking care of your health, mentally and physically.
Don’t be afraid to build in breaks during your day as well. In an office setting, you’d get up to talk to a colleague about something; maybe bump into them in the kitchen, plan a lunchtime walk or walk to your car to get something. Don’t forget to incorporate these types of things into your day. Take that lunch break. Make yourself a yummy mid-day meal – maybe even a fresh smoothie? A luxury that’s difficult to do while in an office setting. Walk your dog – or go for a walk yourself. Mid-day movement break? Why not!
To quote High School Music, we are truly all in this together. As an entirely virtual team, Fast and Female can empathize with how so many of you are feeling and we are here for you. Don’t be afraid to reach out with questions or any further suggestions; but, in the meantime, let’s focus on allowing ourselves to feel, building routine, making connections, setting up your workspace and taking those breaks <3. We believe in you.
We acknowledge that not everyone is working during these tough times. If you are looking for more information on Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, please visit their website by clicking here.
A friendly reminder that it is okay to take this time to rest and take care of yourself and your loved ones. Fast and Female is excited to continue sharing some of our tips, tricks, stories, and experiences. This is Part 3 of a multi-part series. Stay tuned for more!