Saturday, 04 April 2020 08:16

Teleworking

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One challenging aspect of these new times we find ourselves in is the new work-from-home scenario that many have been thrust into.  While one can find comfort in still having a job to do, the transition from working in an office setting to working at your home can be quite jarring at first.  Having worked from home almost exclusively for the last 4 years, I can tell you that there is good news on the horizon.  Working from home is something that you can learn to adjust to relatively quickly and in some cases even learn to love doing.  In this article I will share some insights which helped me to adapt to working from home.  Hopefully some of you will find some helpful tidbits in them. 

Embrace the flexibility - Most employers subscribe to the following modus operandi: “I don’t care when you get your work done, as long as it gets done.”  You can use this to your advantage.  Even if your employer requires that you be “clocked in” at certains times of the day, there’s normally enough flexibility in the workload to be able to distribute some of it throughout the day if needed.  Even if this seems like a pipedream at first, you’ll notice that you’ll begin to identify tasks that can be done at different times, like before the kids get up or after they go to bed.  Ine other words, you’ll learn how to create a flexible daily schedule that works specifically for you.

A new routine - The fact that the majority of us initially struggle with working at home is a good example of how habit driven we are.  We get used to things working a certain way and when this changes in a radical way, we tend to interiorly freak out.  Don’t worry though.  Your goal should be to establish a new routine that works for you.  What works for me is trying to maintain some level of “normalcy” in my routine. For example, get up when you normally would, make your coffee, take your shower, put on some “work from home clothes” that are comfortable but aren’t your PJ’s, and find a place in the house where you can concentrate and where you feel comfortable working.

No more commuting! - I absolutely love this aspect of not working in an office.  There’s no traffic to fight, no gas to burn, no mileage to put on your car and no need to leave home early enough to get to work on time.  You can literally get ready for work using your new routine mentioned above and get started on your tasks immediately.  Depending on how far your drive to work was previously, you can, in some cases, gain an hour or more of work productivity in your day.  For example, if you used to leave home at 7:30am to get to work by 8:00am, you can now get a jump on things by actually STARTING at 7:30am.  This can open up the opportunity for a little longer lunch, clocking out earlier, or simply getting more done in your day and relieving some stress from your to-do list.

Work more efficiently - After some time working from home, you will begin to realize that you’ve settled into a groove and that you are starting to get more done than you ever did in an office setting.  I think one of the reasons for this is that your co-workers also settle into their own work-from-home grooves.  As a result, you’ll notice that people begin scheduling less unnecessary meetings, less people interrupt you with questions, people aren’t wandering the office halls causing distracting conversations, etc…  You’ll start to see that people will start reaching out to you only when they truly need something and will oftentimes make a list of items so that when they do reach out, it’s a one and done deal.  Nobody wants to be scheduling and joining 10 Skype calls a day! While at the beginning you may see lots of video conference meetings pop up, my experience is that, over time, these begin to dissipate.  Messaging apps like Slack (and others) allow people to type questions to you succinctly and you to answer quickly and get back to your work with minimal disruption.

Leverage the situation - Whether it's taking a call outside while you're on a walk, or typing a few emails while sitting on the couch, I love finding fun new ways for getting my work done from home.  Keep your eyes open for ways in which you can do the things you’ve always done at work in a new way and in different settings.

Prayer life integration - Working from home I have been able to integrate prayer into my daily routine much more.  I’ve been known to stream a talk by one of the Servant Brothers or other Catholic speakers when the opportunity arises during my work day.  This is something that would be very difficult to do in a normal work environment.  You may even be able to stream a daily Mass and receive Spiritual Communion when normally this would be almost impossible from the office.

You might be reading all this and saying: “all this sounds great Mike, but...I also have my kids at home and now I also have to teach them AND get my work done!”  I hear ya.  Last year I made the decision to quit my 9-5 job and start my own contracting business working from home.  That decision was driven by the fact that my wife and I wanted to pull our daughter out of public school and begin homeschooling her.  Now, in the 3rd quarter of our inaugural year of homeschooling, I have learned that,  just like adjusting to working from home, there’s an adjustment period you go through when you begin teaching your child from home.  Trying to do this while adjusting to working from home and things can get overwhelming really quickly.  

I’ve actually found homeschooling to be a great opportunity for kids to learn responsibility and how to be self-starters.  Start letting your children shoulder some of the responsibility of their new school schedule.  Just like with the establishment of a working from home routine, it’s been my experience that establishing some routines around the school day is also helpful.  The amount of structure you add or don’t add to this routine needs to work for you and your child.  I’ve found that what works for some parents, doesn’t for others.  Trying to find ways to make the school day fun for your kids will go a long way.  Let your kids get involved with what this looks like too.  My daughter Anna, for example, finds it fun sometimes to check her daily math work by pretending that she is teaching each problem to me.  Most of my family members who have reached out with concerns over this new school at home scenario have been worried that they are inadequate as teachers and that their kids will fall behind.  To that I would say, and my experience so far has proven this, that nobody can teach your child as well as you can.  You know your children better than anyone and once you get over the initial hump of homeschooling, establish a routine that works for you and your child, and stop comparing yourself to others, you’ll see your child making leaps and bounds in their school work.

 

Mike DeVaultMike lives in Celebration, Florida with his wife and daughter. He is a member of the Home of The Mother, a homeschooling DAD, a Masters of Theology student at Franciscan University at Steubenville, a business owner and the Youth Minister at Corpus Christi Catholic Church.