“One benefit of work-from-home is that my car is getting three weeks to the gallon.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were a number of public radio underwriting sales staff who were already working from home (WFH), often because their station’s reach covered a sizable geographic area or their entire state. Those salespeople live in various parts of their coverage area in order to be able to call on and visit with underwriting prospects and clients.
And then it happened. WFH. Everyone.
In these [pick one: challenging, crazy, terrible, unprecedented] times, stations’ underwriting salespeople packed up their files and list of accounts to work from home as states implemented stay-at-home orders that shuttered businesses and helped isolate those who have the virus to prevent it from spreading.
The show must go on.
As we soon learned, the mandatory WFH situation that many of us found ourselves in is not ideal. Schools closed and kids had to be home-schooled. Restless pets were wondering why their human owners were not leaving the house. With everyone home, some home Internet connections were being taxed due to the increased use by multiple family members. Accessing the station’s network remotely from home had its problems. For most of us, these new situations only added to existing work challenges.
With the “interim or new-norm” of WFH it can be difficult to remain motivated through all of the uncertainty. So what are some of the things we’ve learned to motivate us and keep us productive while working from home?
Have a schedule and routine.
Creating a routine and sticking to it can help maintain healthy work habits. If you like to run or exercise, set aside time for that every day before starting your work. If you like to have cup of coffee and catch up on the news, do that. Creating and sticking to a routine can help increase the productivity of your work days. It’s important to continue your weekly one-on-one meetings with your supervisor as well as weekly underwriting sales staff meetings to maintain continuity and a sense of normalcy.
Working from home can lead to blurred lines between your work and life. You may find that you’ve worked through your lunchtime, or that you’re now checking your email after hours. Put your computer into sleep mode and take breaks for the sake of your mental health, just as you would when working from your office at your station. You have to periodically disconnect from work in order to fully engage once you’re in work mode again.
Designate space just for work.
Having a designated work space in your home, even if it’s just your kitchen or dining room, can help keep you productive. Your work space also serves as a signal to the others in your house that it’s your work time and not time for interruptions.
Stay in touch.
It's easy to start feeling disconnected with less interaction among coworkers. Zoom is a great online tool for station underwriting department meetings and underwriting sponsor meetings. Scheduling Zoom, Skype, or smart phone video chats to connect with coworkers on the social level - even if with just one other person - are also good ways to help to feel less closed in.
Take advantage of time.
WFH means no commute time which can provide you extra time to spend with your family, exercise, or just relax. Being productive or nourished outside of work helps motivation and productivity during work time.
Get off your duff.
When you’re working at your station’s office, there are opportunities to move around often. You may go to the water fountain, walk to underwriting meetings, or walk to a coffee shop for lunch time. But when you’re WFH it’s easy to find that you’ve been so focused on your underwriting work that you haven’t moved for hours! Stand up, and move around every once in a while. These mini-breaks can help maintain your productivity and sanity.
Get some good headphones.
For those Zoom meetings and online video calls, a good pair of noise cancellation headphones is worth the investment. Being hands-free also makes it easier to take notes or access that cup of coffee (or late-afternoon adult beverage) while chatting with your coworkers.
WFH is not WFTO.
WFH is not the same as Working From the Office at your station. It’s okay understandable that you may not be as productive WFH as you are in the office.
We are all navigating this new normal together. As businesses begin to reopen, what WFH has taught us is that using our resourcefulness, creativity and resilience can strengthen our purpose as we try our best to be better every day.