Working at home can be a blessing and a curse. With epidemics and national crisis those blessed enough to still work will have more experiences with working from home. Those who work from home for a living naturally will have different experiences than those who do not regularly work at home. This is because those who work from home are set up permanently not temporary. Those who have to learn to adjust to the changes may experience some stress in adjusting to the new existence.
BUT first, before we discuss the many issues and coping strategies of working from home, we must first acknowledge that still having a job and the ability to earn a paycheck is a blessing during crisis. Many individuals during pandemics or crisis are laid off or lose their job. They have to worry about bills and food. So before, individuals moan and gripe over issues that may be annoying or stressful, it is important to recognize the far more superior stress of those who have no income during crisis.
This is perhaps the most important mindset one must possess. If one enters into the temporary work from home paradigm as grateful instead of angry, then many stresses while annoying can be dismissed. Annoyances and stress of change of scene are real but in comparison to having no job during crisis properly puts things into perspective. A feeling of gratitude should exist despite some of the annoyances.
One of the first struggles to identify for those just starting to work at home is structure and regularity. The comforts of home and distractions can be overwhelming for some personalities. For those who need structure to function it is essential that a consistent schedule exists. If one awakens at a certain hour and starts at a certain hour, then this should be maintained for these types of individuals. Daily, weekly and monthly projects should be written into a time plan and crossed off as completed. Certain times for lunch and break should remain consistent as well.
For those who are more able to focus, some of the luxuries of home can be afforded. Those more focused can still accomplish the goals of the day and put in the necessary time. They can be taken away from a task and still be honest, dedicated and responsible enough to complete the task later. To them the comforts, familiarity, peace and solitude may be very conducive to productivity. Ultimately it depends on your personality and what type of schedule permits you to honestly perform your duties and fulfill the needs of the company.
This does not mean the home environment is equally peaceful for everyone. Larger families will deal with children. Sometimes a diaper may need changed, or children will need told to allow father or mother to work in privacy. Pets will need fed or let out. So the situation is not ideal and there will be times needed to step out as required. Do not feel guilty for this but be sure to put the honest time and effort in throughout the day. Accomplishing tasks are beyond an 8 hour restriction if home. This can permit a lunch break that involves a brisk walk or run, or even a lunch break to
Stress will find anyone though in a different environment. The practical and efficient office environment cannot be replicated at home. Productivity can be close but truly cannot equal being in the office. The office itself has the records, the files, the machines, and the supplies needed. The temporary home office hopes to take the most essential to function. The most pertinent paper work, files and supplies are taken. Many who experience a pandemic will undoubtedly spend the last day in the office collecting a variety of tools and papers needed to function at home. One can only try one’s best to collect everything needed.
Offices to function away from the the business site will deal with a variety of preparation stress. They will need to forward office phones to a tracker phone, or set up alternate numbers. They will also need to set up a remote access so that office computers can be accessed from the employee’s home computer. These adjustments are necessary but also come with minor inconveniences. The remote access has a slight delay in transmitting information. While extremely slight it is not as instant as in the office. This can also lead to delayed typing by a split second. The font on some program can also be smaller. Another issue is printing. Most programs will not print remotely to the employee’s home printer. This involves emailing printable forms to the employee’s home email and then printing it from the home computer itself. This slows the process of printing and in itself becomes a project.
Another stress is dealing with customers. Not being able to have complete access or mail certain things may cause irritation to impatient customers. Customers need to be more aware of national crisis but not all are so understanding. Patience and care need taken when dealing with impatience.
Managers under law are able to deal with issues of payroll, mail, and maintenance of computers or machinery in the office. Through emails and comunication, managers can ensure that “stay at home employees” are given the necessary documents that arrive in the mail, as well as monitor any issues that may occur technologically. Office computers could turn off affecting remote access, or the phone service may not transfer calls to a tracker phone. The fax may jam or a host of other technical issues could occur at the office affecting the workers at home and their ability to complete tasks. Managers under the law can ensure that the business continues to flow with a short visit to the office.
In continuing with continuity and communication, remote access meetings can be planned. Software and technology allow meetings to take place among multiple employees over the phone with digital viewing. A meeting room can be set up with certain software that allows all to meet and report status of reports and production.
While less than ideal, it is better to stay in business than to go out of business in difficult times. Despite some issues and new dynamics of stress, technology allows companies to stay in business but ultimately it lies in the hands of good employees to become dedicated to the change and perform at a even higher level. This involves new challenges and stresses but all can be overcame flexibility, responsibility and honesty.
To learn more about Stress Management Consulting and coping with stress, please review our program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals. In the meantime, be safe and continue to control stress and be productive at home.