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The Stuff That Dreams Are Made of – well, maybe not

Aug 24, 2020

By Jacquie Brink, SVP- Great Lakes Division, WFG National Title Insurance Company

Working remotely, the thing that many of us dreamed of, has become an unexpected reality.  For those of us that have commuted to an office for years, at some point we probably have wished we could just work from home.  The thought of just rolling out of bed, grabbing a cup of coffee, turning on your laptop, and working in your pj’s all day, would be a dream job.   Then suddenly, you have been handed this golden ticket and you thought you were off to meet Willie Wonka!  Well, not so fast Grampa Joe.  Obviously working from home does have its perks, like no traffic issues, and being able to control your own thermostat.  And believe me, there are days when I am slow to get out of my pj’s, if at all.  However what starts out as a dream, can easily turn into a nightmare if you’re not prepared.

Designate your workspace:

Most likely you had an office, cubicle, or “space” that was yours.  Now that you’re working remotely, you need to create a comfortable, effective work environment.  Remember that project you kept wanting to do in the basement?  Maybe that is a great spot to create your home office.  Or perhaps it’s the formal dining room that only gets used during holidays.  Wherever it is that you decide will make sense, be creative, and make it yours!  Once you’ve got your designated workspace, as hard as it is to do, you need to set boundaries.  This can be challenging if you have a spouse also telecommuting, and even more challenging if you have children at home, not to mention home-schooling.  There are countless articles online with tips about how to deal with other humans in your home while trying to work, but try to keep your office boundaries as much as possible.

Maintain a consistent routine:

Just because you don’t have to commute and you might be able to stay in your pj’s all day, you still have to stay productive.  Studies have shown that remote employees who stick to a routine, are not only more likely to be more productive, it keeps your mind focused and healthy.  COVID-19 has presented unique challenges in our lives both professionally and personally.  Our normal daily routines have been completely disrupted.  So, figure out what works best for you and stick to it as best you can.

Take Breaks:

This is something that most people don’t think about while you’re in an office setting with other people around.  In the past, you may have taken a walk to the breakroom, and had a friendly chat with a co-worker for a few minutes, or walked outside for some fresh air.  Getting up and moving around and lunch breaks are usually the norm for most.  So, in addition to maintaining a consistent routine, remember to add breaks into your day.  This may be a tough one to force yourself to do, especially when we are all inundated with trying to schedule that next Zoom meeting, and reply to a dozen new emails.  But, it’s important to get up and stretch and recharge your mind.  Also, work-life balance is more important than ever.  In today’s world of technology, we always seem connected to work somehow, so set reasonable work hours.  It’s tempting to work more because you’re home.  But, this can be detrimental to your personal life and your overall well-being.  Unplug!

But…Stay Connected!

If you have never telecommuted, the feeling of being isolated from co-workers can be really tough.  Even people who consider themselves introverts experience feelings of isolation, which can be stressful and depressing.  Keeping communication lines open with colleagues can really help.  Video conferencing with Zoom or Microsoft Teams can keep that visual connection open, and other tools like Slack and Marco Polo, can help with workflow, and an occasional social chat.  But, the best communication device we still have, is the good old telephone.  Don’t forget to call people and have real conversations!  Maybe even share your dreams of post-pandemic times?  And yes, keep the dreams alive!

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