Skip to content
Freedom Integrity Excellence Resilience Curiosity Engagement

5 Tips for Navigating Working From Home During the Pandemic

COVID-19

Anne Descalzo

The coronavirus pandemic has thrusted us into a new remote work environment. This was a quick pivot and uncharted for many. You may be feeling overwhelmed, attempting to multitask, feeling like you can’t keep up and it’s taking a toll on your wellbeing. This may even be to the point of paralysis, you don’t know where to begin.

Prior to this change, you had a daily routine that you were intimately familiar with: wake up, prepare for the day, manage family responsibilities, maybe drop off the children, grab your cup of joe and head into the office. And when the workday is done, there is a routine for that, too.

In this current state, the routine has been thrown, your personal and professional space are merged and this all comes at the expense of your mental wellbeing.

These five tips will help to center your mental wellbeing and guide your focus to doing your best work:

Fulfill your basic human needs

Check in with yourself. Are your basic needs being met? Are you drinking water, eating nutritious meals, taking breaks, feeling safe, and doing your best to get good rest?

During this time, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is most essential to your wellbeing. If you aren’t sure where to start, begin with your basic needs. Whenever stress, anxiety or a flood of emotions impedes on your work – come back to these four things: food, water, warmth and rest.

Notice your breath, make time to breathe deeply. Try mini meditations. This is deep breathing exercises that can clear your mind; even 15 seconds to center yourself and refocus on whatever task you’re working on can be beneficial.

Your body needs water. You may even consider creating a water drinking challenge with your colleagues. You can start your calls with a water “cheers” and hold each other accountable to staying hydrated, make it fun.

Create healthy boundaries with electronics, your media consumption and social media after work hours. Likely, you are sitting behind a computer or on the phone and video conferencing most of the day. Your brain and body need a rest from this. Limiting this in the evening allows you to decompress and lean into self-care; this will pay dividends for your mental and physical wellbeing.

Create a new normal

Your day looks different than it used to. Find a routine that works for you. Showering and getting dressed will help you feel ready and confident for the work day ahead; it may even contribute to productivity

Spend a few more minutes making a nutritious breakfast for your family or perfecting your favorite handcrafted coffee drink at home.

Since your commute is shorter than usual, go for a walk before starting work; when you get back home act as if you’re walking into the office and begin your work day.

Use lunch time to rest, take a few minutes of solitude if you can. Or you may use the time at home to get house tasks done, prep your dinner, make a gourmet lunch, play with the dog, read a book or enjoy some downtime with the kids.

Move your body

Take breaks! Your body is used to you getting up and walking around the office, filling up your water bottle, walking with your colleagues and more.

Commit to taking calls outside, walk around, get fresh air. Take a virtual exercise class on your lunch break or participate in the push-up challenge and encourage others to join you.

Moving your body also gets your creative juices flowing and when you create endorphins, your happiness will be elevated; physical activity benefits your mental wellbeing.

Define your workspace and schedule

Perhaps you didn’t have a home office or workspace established before this work adjustment. Make time in the next few days to create one. Make it a space that fuels you, albeit temporary, the environment around you is imperative to productivity.  It can be as simple as setting up shop at your dining table and adding a plant or picture frame; something that makes you smile or sparks creativity, will go a long way.

Schedule your day; list what time you start, stop and take breaks on your calendar. This will benefit you and your team. You can hold yourself to a schedule, which includes when to call it a day, and your team will know when you are available for meetings and when you will be responsive.

Articulate New Accountability and Success Metrics

Clearly define with your leader and team how you want to be held accountable and how you plan to hold others accountable while you navigate this different work environment. This likely does not look the same as it did when you were all in the office together.

Acknowledge you may not be as productive as you are in the office, the distractions are different and many of you are working from home, with kids, doing your best to homeschool and keep everyone sane.

Reach out for help and extend your hand when others do the same, having an accountability partner can help keep you on track. Communicating these changes will help everyone understand what success looks like right now and as this situation continues to evolve.

More than ever, give yourself grace. You are surrounded by a team that wants to do good work, practice supporting each other and demonstrating trust. With intentional focus on your mental wellbeing as a priority, you’ll inspire and motivate others to do their best.

Anne Descalzo

Anne Descalzo is a Change Agent with Unleashing Leaders. She’s also the co-founder of Clutch, a business management consulting firm based in Sacramento. She formerly led the community relations strategy and employee financial health program and team for a Sacramento based credit union, with over 14 years in the financial industry. She has a passion for connecting others to the resources and people on their journey to success. Much of Anne’s work is centered around emotional intelligence; she focuses on striking a balance between personal wellbeing and meaningful professional development. She is highly involved in the community, having served as the 2019 Metro EDGE Program Chair and currently holds a seat on the Folsom Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Anne received her BA from Sacramento State in Journalism. Anne graduated from Leadership Sacramento, class of 2015 and in 2018 she was honored as a top “40 Under 40” by the Sacramento Business Journal.