Excerpted The SHRM Blog by Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD
Just last week major corporations began implementing voluntary work from home policies that have quickly become mandatory as sweeping and very draconian social distancing measures are being mandated by major municipalities across the country.
Working from home often conjures images of kicking back on the sofa with a laptop and a cup of coffee, but the new reality of “working from home” is quite different. My experience with working from home over the last 15 years has typically included morning takeovers of the kitchen counter (much to the dismay of my wife) coupled with afternoon stints at my local Starbucks. And of course, the occasional lunch stops at my neighborhood deli somewhere in between. Social, yes, but at a six foot-distance, certainly not.
In other words, working from home didn’t literally mean working from home. For at least the next couple of months the new working definition of “working from home” is really going to be working in physical isolation. The reason I say physical isolation as opposed to social isolation is because the notion of social distancing is about physical distance. The idea is to keep far enough away (six feet), to minimize the possibility of transmitting the coronavirus. However, what social distancing does not mean is to burrow up in a hole and disconnect. We are social creatures by nature, and we have a strong need for human connection. The fact is we are experiencing a once in generation pandemic at a time of unprecedented social connectivity. We all have a variety of tools at our disposal to remain socially connected no matter how physically isolated we must become.
There is also the matter of those who will have to isolate at home, but without a work-from-home option. As bars, restaurants, gyms, theaters, museums, and daycare facilities close their doors, millions of workers will have to stay at home without the ability to engage in their jobs. Not to mention, manufacturing and distribution facilities across the country which may well have to take similar measures if the so-called “curve” doesn’t start flattening. So, whatever form of physical isolation you find yourself in, here are some steps you can take to ease the stress:
Keep your morning routine, because you need it: You may not realize it, but your daily routines are now going to be more critical than ever before. Personal routines and daily plans allow for a sense of certainty and control, particularly in uncertain times. Try to keep your routine as similar as possible to your typical workday. So, get up shower and get dressed as you typically would. Do whatever it takes to resist the all-day pajama party because this is about the long haul.
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