Managing your life in quarantine

If you are working from home and sharing that home with others, how can you go through this chaotic period of time and keep your energy and performance at top levels? Here are 4 tips to better work in a lockdown situation.
1— Organize the physical space around you

« Home office » is not like « working at home ». You need to set up a working place that is confortable for you. You will sit there for several hours and you do need to organise your surroundings.

Light is important, if possible sitting close to a window is helpful. Organize the space around you, desk, chair, a room that you can close if it is possible to do so in your home. A closed door can help you focus. It also makes a boundary between « work area » and « family area ». If you do not have enough space to do so, you may use a screen or curtain, or at least a sign that means “on line”/unavailable when you use the working space.

2— Structure your time

Structuring time is both important for your mental balance and for your performance. How can you put in place a routine that helps you organise your time?

Decide on your working hours as if you were at the office. Prepare yourself as if you were going to go outside: take a shower, get dressed, and move to your « home office » to start your day and focus on your activity.

One potential trap is working long hours without sufficient breaks. Decide on when to stop, have a coffee or a tea, chat with people around you, and if you are alone at home, call a friend.

Communicate with the people around you and agree with your partner about personal and family time structures: when do we work? When do we take care of the logistics? When do we take care of children (or pets) if any? Do we take a break together or do we have separate time? Clarify as much as possible when others can interact with you and when you need to focus or have calls.

3— Keep relations with your colleagues

How do we create informal moments such as the ones we usually have at the office, and which are so important for human connection and collective intelligence, as we cannot physically meet with our colleagues?

As much as possible, use video instead of audio only. It allows a closer connection, for easier understanding and for better perception of other's feelings and emotions. There are many video conference applications, often free, that can be used easily, to connect with a team online and see everyone.

When starting a remote team meeting, take the first 5 – 10 minutes for “check-in”: a round when each one can share in turn how they feel, if they have specific concerns, how they would like to contribute to the meeting. We always recommend doing this for in-person meetings. It is even more important to do so when working remotely, because it feeds the connection and helps everyone feel recognised and part of the team.

4— Use this time to focus on opportunities

You may want to spend your time complaining about the coronavirus, the IT connection that is not working properly or the password you have forgotten… Or you may decide to perceive the situation from a player’s perspective. What is under my control? What are my choices? What can I decide to do? How can I make the best of the situation?

In particular, you can ask yourself how you will use the extra time you have gained from not commuting. What could I do that was not possible before? Work longer hours? If you are considering this option, make a conscious decision to do so or the risk is high to let the work decide for you. Spend more time with your children and partner? Practice a hobby or an activity you enjoy? Get trained on a subject you are passionate about?

The current situation, even though very challenging, may lead to new discoveries and developments.