By Rita Pagan, DES
I know a lot of people were forced into working from home the last year but I’m heading into almost five years. While working from home has its perks, there are certainly things I miss about working in an office:
- Having a REAL desk! With two kids at home in cyber school this year and a massive desk shortage when COVID hit, I was shunned to the dining room table. It’s a hot mess. Don’t look! And I miss office supplies at the ready. #nerd
- PEOPLE! I miss casual conversations. Mind breaks. Background noise. Most days now I’ll have something playing in the background on my phone just to help. (The Parking Podcast!)
- Not snacking. Being so close to all the food is hard. When I worked in an office, it was so much easier to pack a lunch and be stuck with the boring salad.
- The commute. Oddly. That 20-minute drive was my quiet alone time. And as an introvert it was desperately needed sometimes.
- The separation of work and home. Y’all, I have an email obsessive problem that has turned into a not being able to disconnect from my laptop. (Admitting it is the first step, right?) It’s hard to step away when you work from home but feel like you want to “just squeeze in a little more.”
For those of you still working from home, what do you miss about the office? What have you done to help make it seem more comfortable or organized? Send me some tips!
Rita Pagan, DES, is IPMI’s director of events and exhibits.
By Rita Pagan, DES
Please stop apologizing during online meetings for dogs barking, cats on your laptop, kids asking for lunch, and leaf blowers.
By now we all know the work-from-home quarantine COVID-19 drill. Working families everywhere have figured out how to manage this interesting time. Whether it’s a full day of Zoom meetings on our calendars or socially distant online holiday gatherings, we’re now pros at navigating the virtual world. My 9-year-old knows Zoom functionality better than I do!
On top of that, we are keeping our kids educated, entertained, and hopefully busy enough they don’t try some crazy quarantine activity like cutting their own hair (yes, I found hair in the bathroom sink this week!). The point is, we have gotten a system down pat–even if that system is utter chaos at times. Most importantly, we are doing all of this while trying to keep ourselves mentally, and emotionally sane, trying to resist the PJ’s-all-day look accompanied by the entire pack of Oreo cookies for dinner. I have watched ALL OF NETFLIX.
So no need to apologize for the background noise. We get it. We are all dealing with it and personally, I find it oddly reassuring. It means I am not the only one losing my mind and juggling entirely too much. Let’s have patience and understanding with each other. Mute and get that kid a PB&J! Or in my case, maybe a hat for that home haircut someone just gave themselves.
Rita Pagan, DES, is IPMI’s events and exhibits manager, currently managing our Mobility & Innovation Summit, online, Feb. 24-25. Don’t worry about your background noise or your baseball hat–register here.
By Vanessa Solesbee, CAPP
With many of us home full-time now with kids, dogs, spouses, and other loved ones all trying coexist in under one roof, I am seeing a lot of articles focused on getting our kids into routines/schedules/anything to keep them moving forward. But what we are doing for ourselves?
I worked from home for many years while consulting, and during that time, I moved three times, got married, and had two kiddos. I learned a lot during my time working from home and I hope that some of these lessons are helpful in easing the transition for you:
- Get ready for the day like you are leaving the house. This will be different for everyone; it could mean taking a shower, doing your hair, putting on makeup, or making your bed. This simple act of keeping your morning routine is a surprisingly easy and quick way to transition from weekend to workweek.
- Put on pants that are not stretchy at least twice a week. You may laugh but wearing sweats, yoga pants, or gym clothes every day eventually does something to one’s psyche. The act of getting dressed (in pants that button) also helps to keep those hourly trips to the fridge in check and makes you feel like you are in work/productivity mode.
- Go outside and move your body. Yes, I often hit “dismiss” on my watch when it tells me I’ve been sitting in place for too long but trust me, this one is so important. You don’t have to run every day or do a full Crossfit workout in your garage but do move your body and breathe some fresh air. Put this time on your calendar like everything else and start with one or two times a week.
- Communicate your schedule and set times for calls/video chats. Designate specific days of the week or times of day (e.g., mornings or afternoons) where you will be available for meetings. This technique can increase your ability to focus and is will be a good strategy to bring back to the office with you. If you have the ability to do so, communicate your availability weekly–including when you will be “in the office” and available to your supervisor, direct reports, and colleagues.
- Find an accountability partner. I have a secret to share—not everyone has to be good at working from home and there is not some magic bullet that will suddenly make you motivated to sit at your desk rather than watch Netflix all day. It is 100 percent okay to think that working from home is really hard and to not like it! However, there are some things you can do to make it less painful and finding an accountability partner is one of those things. You can use the same techniques that you use for other goals: write down what you need to do and what you’ve accomplished each day; check in with a colleague (or your spouse) every morning and chat quickly about what you want to accomplish that day and what you accomplished the day before; and set reasonable weekly goals for yourself.
- Make your own mental health a priority. Lastly and most importantly, your kids, spouse, pets, parents, friends, colleagues take their cues from you. We are all in an unprecedented situation and it is okay if you feel anxious, stressed, sad, scared, and/or angry. We are being asked to do something that is totally against our innate nature–isolate ourselves from each other and for those of us who live alone and/or in a (new) situation where our basic needs are in jeopardy because of job loss or financial insecurity, the isolation is compounding almost daily.
Give yourself a break and know that despite what it looks like on social media, most of us have raised our voices at our spouse in the last few weeks, our kids have eaten too much mac and cheese and spent too much time on their screens, perhaps virtual happy hour every night is probably not a good long-term strategy for regaining connection, and trust me, we have not all had the drive to Marie Kondo every junk drawer. So, if you find yourself constantly asking “are the kids going to be alright!?” make sure you are also asking yourself, “How are you doing, too?”
Vanessa Solesbee, CAPP, is president of The Solesbee Group.