Finding ways to calm work-from-home chaos

Editor’s note: Visit the official WesternCOVID-19 website for the latest campus updates.

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Working from home has become the ‘new normal’ for many. What is not normal, however, are the kitchens, bedrooms and other spaces recently converted into makeshift workstations.

With laptops, tangled cords and scattered papers now commonplace in households across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, chaos seems to rule what were, until a few weeks ago, quiet places to get away from the stress of work.

Western’s Human Resources recognized these challenges early on and set out to create some tools in order to make work-from-home life easier to manage.

Most recently, those tools now include a video, Tips for Working From Home, featuring Nancy Stewart, Senior Facilitator in Human Resources, live from her home. The video has been shared widely with the Western community.

“The key is to take care of yourself every single day,” Stewart stressed.

At home, she advises people to set up a designated workspace in their home where they are able to reduce distractions and follow a daily schedule – which includes creating a regular start and finish time, along with allotted times for breaks throughout the day.

“Create daily goals to accomplish each day and continue to use a calendar like you do if you were still in the office,” Stewart said.

She added staying connected with your colleagues through phone, text or even using the video platform Zoom is “a great way to keep social interactions going.”

Physical activity and diet are also key, she said pointing to resources like Living Well @ Western for advice to keep moving. “And maintain a healthy diet. My tip is to continue to pack your lunch the night before as if you were going to the office. It can help to avoid unhealthy snacking.”

Working from home with kids is also a challenge for many. Stewart said the team is looking forward to getting discussion going on this topic next.

“The tips we shared are just a start,” she said. “We added a ‘call out’ to staff to share their tips so that we can learn from each other in our new remote world. Find something fun to do every single day. This is important to keep your spirits up.”

Staff members are encouraged to share their working at home tips with everyone, which will then be shared on the Human Resources website.

Early tips and ideas from staffers include:

  • “Make your space work for you – near a window with natural sunlight and bringing my plants around are an easy way to brighten my day.”
  • “It’s OK to let your professional contacts know you have a family (or to introduce them) – we do not need to keep work and life so strictly separate.”
  • “I printed off pictures of my teammates and posted them on the wall in front of my desk, so I don’t feel along at the office.”
  • “Schedule a Zoom time for team lunches, if this is something you enjoyed doing together previously.”
  • “Be sure to stretch often and incorporate daily physical activity into your routine.”
  • “On our next call we are going to bring an accessory to the meeting to try and make it a little fun. It might be a hat, piece of jewellery, pin, hair piece, etc.”