Quarantine Work Life. The New Normal.

Higher Order

Leah Williams Leah WilliamsMar 24, 2020

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OK, be honest here, did anyone get even a little excited when your company announced you’d be going remote despite the stream of COVID-19 headlines? It was finally your turn to be that person who’s “doing lunch,” hanging out at hipster coffee shops and posting pictures of fancy lattes with the caption “Office for the day #worklife.” Admit it, you’ve angrily liked those IG pictures while at your 9-to-5, but now it’s your time to shine …

Has reality sunk in yet? Unlike the pre-COVID-19 remote workers, we don’t have access to trendy coffee shops and public workspaces. This new wave of remote working professionals will be fully remote. Like, cabin-in-the-middle-of-nowhere remote. A more appropriate term for what we’re entering into is Quarantine Work Life, or QWL.

Now that your hopes have been sufficiently dashed, the good news is that we’re all in this together. Below are 5 tips to help you keep your sanity by developing productive habits that may help you even when this is all over.

The first and perhaps most obvious piece of advice: get dressed. Seriously, don’t stay in your PJs all day, because it will 100% inhibit your productivity. You may not feel it your first week of QWL, but trust me, it will hit you hard AF in the second. Shujaa Graham, a wrongly convicted inmate who spent three years in solitary confinement, used a strict routine to uphold his personal hygiene as his only means of survival. If Graham can implement a routine in a 6 by 9 cell, then you can too.

Mix It Up

Don’t stay behind your desk all day. Take a page out of Google’s book and create multiple spaces for yourself. Granted, we can’t all have the luxury of a nap pod or a rec room, but you get what I mean. It could be as simple as a move from your desk to the couch or from the living room to the kitchen.

Maybe it’s even leaving your phone and computer in the other room to give yourself a break. Think of all the time you’re interrupted throughout your workday: random questions or drawn-out stories from co-workers that take a huge chunk out of your work time. Without those distractions, you can use that time to focus on yourself.

There’s a reason why people like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg held walking meetings. According to a Stanford study, a person’s creative output increases by 60% when walking. Keep in mind that every time you go for a walk, you’re not only increasing your blood flow and giving your lungs a chance to breathe, but you’re also giving your mind a moment to catch up and increasing your capacity for creative output.

Communicate Clearly

I can’t stress enough the importance of clear communication during this QWL period. Adjusting to working remotely, especially when you are used to in-person collaboration, is tough. So, receiving emails that have spelling errors, lack direction, etc., only adds to the confusion. We no longer have the luxury of walking over to someone’s desk to have them clarify what they meant. Now, we have an added wait time before we can touch base to make sure we are understanding correctly. QWL is hard enough; make sure that you are being extra clear and concise while communicating with your co-workers. Believe me, it will make it that much better.

Having said that, ya know that thing we constantly have glued to our hand and that other thing we’re constantly staring at? In case you’re totally not tracking, I’m talking about your phone and computer. Use them. Turn a 5-thread-long email exchange into a 3-minute phone call or video chat. It seems so simple, and it is, but it will truly help to make sure that you and your co-workers are all on the same page. Plus, face-to-face interaction (even if virtual) is extremely important during this time.

As we navigate through the new terrain of QWL that COVID-19 has thrown our way, we’re probably realizing that working-from-home life isn’t everything we imagined it to be. However, we’re in a truly unique position where everyone, from individuals to businesses, can make a definite impact. Not just in our current situation, but moving forward into the future as well.

Think about it. Social distancing at the global level hasn’t happened before. We are the trailblazers of working remotely during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. If anything like this ever happens again, people will look back on this time and say, “Oh yeah, what did they do?” Whole offices working remotely — perhaps whole economies — could completely change the way future business is conducted.

Already you may be noticing the 15 meetings you had a day aren’t actually necessary and can definitely be more time-efficient. Perhaps the time you’ve had to run personal errands or complete house chores has made you less stressed and more productive.

We all have a lot to learn during this time, so start observing, make changes and give advice to those who are seeking it. We’re all a part of this new world. Let’s do what we do best and learn to creatively take advantage of it.

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