We are talking about how to stay connected while working from home in today’s episode. There are three main areas of connection we would like to address.
- #1 – Staying connected with your team: If you are running a team from home, if you’re part of a team and working from home, these distributed teams can be difficult to stay connected.
- #2 – Staying connected with your support system of family and friends: Keep those connections and communications strong with friends and family, not only for yourself, but to ensure that they are doing ok as well.
- #3 – Staying connected with yourself: Most of us focus all of our energy on everyone else and we’ll talk about learning to unplug and focus on time just for yourself to help ease some of the anxiety you may be facing during these stressful times.
In general, working from home can feel isolating at times, especially with what we’re going through during this coronavirus situation. Many people were thrown into a work-from-home environment with little to no time to prepare. Having to stay within the confines of your house along with any stress you may be feeling compounds that feeling of isolation. The tips we will discuss today apply in any work-from-home situation but we will discuss some self-quarantine topics as well, since that is the current reality we’re all facing.
What we cover in this episode:
- 00:23 – Introduction
- 02:24 – Stay connected with your team
- 11:15 – Stay connected with your support system
- 27:56 – Stay connected with yourself
- 31:05 – Hobbies
- 32:13 – Grace
Stay connected with your team
As a business owner or manager, staying connected with your team is vital to the success of your business. There are many different technology tools available to help with communication. We use two platforms, Zoom and GoToMeeting, to conduct our meetings here at PJS & Co. CPAs. We typically have two team meetings per month but we are making extra efforts to stay connected with our team because this situation we’re currently in is very different.
Slack is another tool that we use to stay connected with each other. It offers the ability to organize discussions in different channels, like movies or crafting for example. This is a way that your team could post pictures about what their families are doing or a recent vacation, etc Maybe you have a channel for specific teams, hobbies, or a channel focused on the organization as a whole.
Regular meetings: Scheduled meetings are definitely something you need to establish. You may choose to have mandatory meetings where you have a set agenda, goals that need to be discussed and what’s happening with the business. You can also have optional meetings so that you can keep everything light, find out how everyone is doing personally and plan fun games. Get together using virtual meetings for happy hour, talk about your hobbies, what your family is doing to stay busy and overall finding out how everyone is doing.
Staying in touch with your team shows them you care about them personally as well as professionally. Yes, we need to discuss business but we also need teamwork. Teamwork requires that relational connection and collaboration.
Mental health breaks: We also encourage everyone to take mental health breaks. Sometimes we just hit a roadblock. Our days are different from how they used to be just a short time ago. Our kids are not in school, we may be working from home and the days can just run together.
What we are experiencing every day can be overwhelming and make you feel sad and scared. Even those of us that consider ourselves mentally strong can have a tough time grasping all the changes in our daily life.
We need to take care of ourselves so that we’re able to take care of others, our families and our jobs. As a leader, send out a team-wide email to your team to make sure they are keeping tabs on themselves. Ask – are they doing ok? Let them know that if they’re having a hard time, it’s ok to take a few hours out and take a deep breath. It’s ok to get away from their desk, go out, walk the dog and get some fresh air.
Think about your team, your clients and customers, and the families of your team. It’s a strain for everyone as new information is released daily, and sometimes even hourly or by the minute. It’s important for us to be transparent with one another when we really need a break and communicate that to people who need to know.
Stay connected with your support system
Staying connected to your friends and family is the next crucial connection we want to discuss. We can use the same programs that we use working from home to connect with our personal support system. The technology tools like Zoom and GoToMeeting that we discussed earlier can be very helpful. There are other types of technology that we can use to stay in touch. For iPhone users, you can FaceTime individually or up to 10 people at a time. Use your phone to video record your children doing or saying funny things and share those recordings with your family and friends. Not only will you have documentation that you can keep forever, but it will also bring a smile to your friends and family that may need that personal connection right now.
Send someone a text and be really personal, “How are you guys doing? Do you need anything?” There’s nothing more caring than to say “Are you hanging in there?” It’s a moment of personal connection that shows you care.
Marco Polo is another app that’s available to stay in touch and available for iPhone and Android users. It allows you to send a video message that the other person can watch when they have the time available. It allows you to keep that relationship strong and a great way to stay connected with somebody that may be in a different time zone than you.
Keeping your sanity: This may be the first time many people have their partners and kids at home, altogether and ALL the time. How do you stay connected with your family in a positive way during this time? Don’t do it all alone, try to find healthy, productive ways to fill your time, and establish routines to keep everyone on track.
Don’t feel like the burden of all household chores falls on you and you alone. Especially given that all members of the family are stuck in the house, making messes 24/7. It’s not healthy to assume all that responsibility yourself. Share the responsibility of what needs to get accomplished by incorporating the family with chores, cooking, laundry, etc. Have children set the table, clean up the dishes and take the time to set some new procedures to be proactive. It can inherently build kids into really strong adults.
We are usually so busy it’s hard to find the time to try new things, so this time at home presents a perfect opportunity to start something new. Starting a garden together can keep the kids busy while providing your children with a good life lesson of being responsible for something, watching it grow and seeing the fruits of their labor. It doesn’t happen overnight so when it comes to fruition and they can eat those vegetables, it can be very satisfying. Find a new recipe and then make it together.
Setting up a schedule can also ease stress in the household. If there is a schedule and routine in which children need to be dressed, have their chores done, teeth brushed by a certain time, it can help eliminate some of the chaos. They won’t get it perfect every day, but allowing kids to be cognizant of getting their tasks done will give them structure.
Social media: You can use social media to share your life with friends and family. It will allow you to maintain a level of connection and communication. It’s not necessarily as personal as a FaceTime call or Marco Polo, but it’s an outlet that you can use to connect with people.
Even the older generation is using Facebook and other social media platforms. It’s a great way for older relatives and those out of state to stay connected with what you’re doing. Send them a couple posts or make a family group message on Facebook. Share with them there or create a separate, private page that allows the family to share photos. You’re not necessarily inundating everybody on all of your friends list on Facebook, but you can have a special place for your family.
Creative ways to carry forward with traditions: Many children during this time of quarantine won’t be able to have an in-person birthday party like they normally do. It’s hard for them to understand so you need to be creative to still make it as special as possible for them. One idea is to set up a Zoom meeting, create a Facebook invitation and invite all of your family that you normally invite. Everyone can sign in, sing Happy Birthday and maybe open a couple of presents on there so that everyone still gets to see the birthday kid and each other. Hopefully, when all of this is done, you can have another party to celebrate. It’s important to be creative to still have those celebrations. They will remember it when they are older and may reminisce, “Hey, remember my fifth birthday during quarantine when we had a computer birthday party?”. It teaches them innovation, trying to find alternatives as well as a level of patience and perseverance.
Staying connected with yourself
The third type of connection we want to discuss is staying connected with yourself. Sometimes, especially as parents, we tend to put ourselves last. There’s an old cliche that if you don’t take care of yourself then you can’t take care of others, which is very true. It is sometimes ingrained in us to still take care of the household before we take care of ourselves. Give yourself time to unplug and relax in the evening or throughout the day. Maybe take 30 minutes to read or get your game plan together to regroup.
Mornings can be a valuable time for many people. It’s a time when you’re not needed, nobody’s knocking at your door. You can get a cup of coffee, take a breath and plan your day. Get an idea of what you need to accomplish during the day. Take time to meditate, exercise, read, pray or whatever you do that can mentally prepare yourself for the day. Taking that time to self reflect can take you to a very calm place.
We discussed quiet time in episode #30 and tips on how to homeschool while running a business. Send your kids to their room to play quietly or read for 30 minutes during the day. This will give you time to regroup and focus.
Hobbies: Many people really enjoy finding hobbies that can get them out of the house. It’s hard now because of the quarantine but even taking a walk, going on a hike and getting a change of scenery will feel nice to do. Exercising for even 15-20 minutes can help with anxiety and frustration and make you feel good about yourself. It might not be something you can do every day, but it can be something you strive to accomplish.
Grace: You have to give yourself and others some grace during this time. It’s so important with all of this because everybody has a different threshold. We have to remember that our kids have a different threshold. We have a different threshold and our spouse has a threshold. We can’t expect perfection out of everybody and for everyone to be totally in sync all the time. We just have to give that grace. It’s something you won’t ever regret giving. Try your best to find the joy in this journey and find the joy in slowing down.Sit down as a family, even for half an hour to reflect on the kind of day you had. Discuss things that you need to be mindful of or maybe something new you or your kids learned. While this pandemic situation can be frustrating, it doesn’t mean we can’t make the best of the time we have together.
This episode is all about staying connected to your team, your support system and yourself. Remember that each part plays a vital part of your life and each is critical to be aware of during this time. Take care of the communication with your business and team. Have business meetings, but remember to incorporate fun meetings with your team as well. This will reinforce the team environment and company culture when everything returns to “normal.”
Staying connected with your support system will help you keep in touch with friends and family and also make sure they are ok. Use social media, video meetings and other applications to stay connected. Share your family responsibilities with other members of your family. Not only will it alleviate some of your stress, but it will teach your children valuable life lessons.
During these times, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the responsibilities that you have as a business owner and your family obligations. Take time to unplug, exercise, read and use that time to get some balance. It will help you find peace and ease some anxiety during these turbulent times.
Remember during these stressful times to hang in there. Everybody’s in the same boat but in a different boat all at the same time. We all have different situations that we’re dealing with as well as different thresholds for stress, so try to give grace whenever possible. Hang in there and we’ll all get through this together. Reach out if you have questions and remember to do what’s good for you and your business. Take care of your business and take care of yourself.