Picture this. Your whole world as you knew it has come to a halt. You have to think twice before get ready to leave the house solo to pick up groceries.  You are unable to run errands in a carefree manner or at all due to mandatory closures of non-essential businesses.  If you have children, you are no longer dropping them off to school or daycare and continuing on your merry way to work on a daily basis.

Wait a minute, this sounds familiar.  Yes, this is what we are currently dealing with on a global scale.  It is crazy to think that one day we will live to tell the story of how we survived a pandemic and what we did to stay sane while working from home with or without kids running around in the background or hanging off of us during a Zoom call all while in lockdown.

For most, I am sure this is still surreal. I mean, the number of people watching Contagion on Netflix is through the roof (I may or may not be guilty of this myself).  The Facebook and Instagram posts circling about this invisible invader of our globe are off the charts.  Whether or not they require fact-checking is a whole other topic that we won’t get into right now (aka. Fake News and Conspiracy Theories).  THIS ISN’T A MOVIE PEOPLE.  This is real.

Unless one is an essential worker, related to one, or knows someone who has been directly affected by the novel Coronavirus, also known as COVID19, you may not fully understand the shift that is required on your part in order for you and your fellow humans to remain healthy.  Mainly, get ready to work from home and only venture out when absolutely necessary.

In times past, we may have daydreamed about being able to do this.  Just one day to catch up on some sleep and toss a load of laundry in while checking work emails. However, this has suddenly become our forced reality in order to flatten the curve so that our healthcare systems are not overwhelmed (more than they already are).  We have yet to understand just how long it will take to conquer COVID19. Needless to say, we are not getting back to our offices anytime soon!  So how do we get ready for the ‘long haul’ when we are the owner of a non-essential business and responsible for the livelihood of our employees?

Well, if you are one of the lucky ones who have a business that is able to function on a remote basis, you can consider yourself fortunate. These are unprecedented times and this involves a shift in our work culture and our mindsets. We need to look at things with a different perspective and go easy on ourselves as we learn to adapt to our new reality.  The good news, we are all in the same boat – for the most part.  This virus does not discriminate.

Regardless of your employees’ specific situations, grant them flexibility. Working from home can affect everyone differently depending on the home situation and responsibilities. Offer more leeway on due dates for tasks, adjusted working hours and perhaps a compressed workweek. Encourage them to develop a daily routine.  Advise them to tailor it to their personal and/or family’s needs.  We are creatures of habit and this will assist in the healthy adaptation to this new and may I remind you, temporary existence.

In order for your employees to work effectively from home, make sure they are prepared to do so:

  • Ensure they have the proper technology set up to meet the demands of their work
  • Keep in regular contact with them and remind them to reach out to colleagues for additional support (weekly conference calls are an excellent idea)
  • Warrant setting up a workspace that is both functional and minimizes distractions.  This may include fitting the bill for a laptop or web-based sessions on the most effective ways to work remotely.

In addition to this, foster positive coping.  Your employee’s fear and stress levels are currently higher than normal.  Consistent and clear communication about health risks and available resources is a great way for you to keep your employees safe and healthy during this pandemic.  You could offer them a free online membership to a fitness app, tutorials on mindfulness, webinars on resilience and if applicable, motivate them to access their EAP program as needed.

As simple as it may sound, promote the following as daily healthy coping mechanisms.  Sometimes these things are easier said than done in a time of crisis:

  • take a shower every day
  • go for a walk
  • meditate
  • exercise
  • eat a healthy diet and drink lots of water
  • take a warm bath with Epsom salts
  • take your medications/vitamins
  • go to bed and wake up at regular time
  • figure out the best time to get your work done for the day – this may take some creativity
  • play an online game with friends
  • allow yourself to binge watch a series
  • read a fiction novel
  • learn something new
  • do online therapy
  • focus on living in the present moment
  • cherish this extra time with loved ones
  • limit your time on social media
  • only allow yourself to watch the news for no more than an hour a day
  • communicate your needs and set a schedule with your family
  • clean out your closet – this always seems to bring about some positivity and good feelings

All in all, start where you are.  Be kind to yourself, your employees, and your loved ones.  Remember that we are all dealing with this in our own way and this too shall pass. Stay sane. Stay healthy. Stay home.