Turns out isolation is a real problem and you are not alone in trying to cope with it. It actually affects more people that you might think (even the strong people who you think couldn’t possibly be fazed by anything!).
WFH undoubtedly requires a lot of self-confidence and belief in yourself. Gone are the days of the positive reinforcement we once relied on from body language and the ‘vibe’ from being in an office. We miss the lack of interaction with the wider world and, although we won’t admit it, we miss listening into other people’s conversations in the office!
Anxiety and stress are just two of the issues isolation can lead to. The lack of self-discipline we are suddenly faced with can have a negative impact on our health, both mentally and physically…we’ve all heard the light from the fridge calling us, haven’t we?!
Perspective is gone out the window (along with our willpower). Suddenly there is no one there to help you gain perspective when things go wrong. We can no longer ask a colleague to go into the boardroom with us for a few minutes while we have a minor meltdown and ask for some advice….and tissues!
But surely it’s not all bad news?! What about the positives…
Greater flexibility. You are no longer confined to the office from 8.30am to 5.30pm…you can now work hours that suit you to allow you to drop the kids to school (and don’t forget to pick them up again!).
Fewer interruptions. Nowadays my interruptions are so minor but yet they sometimes feel like a right royal pain the derriere but they are far from it! Ok so my Dad pulling up outside the house and beeping the car horn so I’ll go out to him can sometimes bug me…especially when I go out and he is just calling with leftovers for the dogs or to drop off the latest Aldi booklet (I am not joking here!). I’m starting to wonder if he will show up at the office when I return to it and sit in the car park beeping the car horn!
So what are the little things you can do to stop yourself from feeling overwhelmed?
Know how to communicate clearly so your colleagues know what you are up. You won’t feel under pressure to prove that you are working and won’t have to worry about whether or not you are trusted to work at home. At least then when they ask you do help them out with something they know what your current workload is.
Learn to work consistently. I’ve learned to stop putting off the jobs I hate doing and now get a sense of achievement when I just take the bull by the horns and just do it (God, someone should really trademark that saying…oh wait…!).
Recognise when you need a break or to get out for a walk. Sometimes I’ll wait until I have a task finished to take a break…other times I get up and walk away mid senten…
Get up, shower, have breakfast at the kitchen table instead of at your workstation (although they may be the same place!), get dressed and maybe even go mad and put on a pair of shoes!
Change the media you are using to communicate with your work colleagues. Pick up the phone instead of emailing them, have an online voice chat instead of WhatsApping.
Start a Zoom call with ‘how was your weekend’ as opposed to ‘can you hear me?’ We can all hear you, just like we did that last time and the time before that!
Be proactive in reaching out to others. Don’t wait for scheduled meetings or for them to contact you. Stop using the excuse that they might be busy and you might be disturbing them…disturb them…they might be glad of it!
Remember this is just a feeling. Isolation is not a fact. It is a feeling that can be managed if put into perspective. Think of all the good things about working from home.
Let the sun/light shine in. Ok so we might not live in the sunniest of climates but if you can position your workstation so that you are in front of a window and natural light this will make all the difference.
Talk to your furry friend. I have some of my best conversations with them and they don’t look at me oddly if I hug them for no reason…unlike how some of my work colleagues might! And Tommy in HR won’t be looking for me!
Background music – for some reason I couldn’t stand to have a radio on in the office but at home I can’t function without it. There’s something comforting about it but that doesn’t mean stick Netflix on while you are working! Selling Sunset is not going to teach you who to be the next sales guru!
Stop being hard on yourself. Life is hard at the moment but stick with it, stay positive and stay in touch…but not physically…you still have to maintain social distancing!