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Beating the Work From Home (WFH) Blues

Surprisingly this is not my first WFH stint. Several years ago, I experienced a major softball injury which left me to work from home for nine months (hoping this time won’t be that long). This leads me to bring you some tips and tricks I picked up along the way.

Step #1 – Don’t work where you sleep

In the beginning, I worked straight from my bed, which in turn really brought down my mood. Finding a dedicated area to work is essential to your attitude and overall productivity. If you live in a studio apartment or live with roommates, you’re probably saying, “I have no choice.” This is not true! You can find a table to put in your room or talk with your roommates and find a dedicated open space where you can use headphones. Just stay out of your bed. I also highly recommend a space by a window. With the nice weather approaching, you can open the window and enjoy the outdoors from the comfort of your workspace. This will definitely improve your mental state.

Step #2 – Be workday ready

It’s so easy for us to stay in our PJs all day. You really need to get ready for your day as if you were going to work. For the ladies, I’m not saying you need to do full hair and make-up, but we all need to get cleaned up and change our clothes. Again, this will help with attitude.

Step #3 – Be mobile around your home

Most of us work on laptops with Wi-Fi connections. Be mobile as to where you can do your work. For example, I have my desk set up for all the regular day-to-day and deadline driven activities. But when it comes time for me to read a RFQ/RFP or provide a document review, I’ll unplug my laptop and either move to the couch or out on my patio. This way I haven’t been situated in the same seat stagnant all day.

Step #4 – Connect with your co-workers

Try not to rely on email or instant message. I am still definitely working on this. It’s so easy to get in this mode of communication. At a minimum, try to have a few phone calls in one day. This can be work-related or even casual. I have found it to be helpful just to call my co-workers and see how they’re doing, or to tell them I need some adult interaction. One thing we’ve implemented at my firm is virtual happy hours. This was extremely beneficial to everyone involved. It’s just nice to hear other humans laughing and smiling during times like this.

Step #5 – Managing family vs. work

For those that are responsible for small humans, such as myself, not only are we trying to balance the new normal of WFH, but also managing parenting, home schooling, and our children’s cabin fever. The younger they are the harder it is. It’s OK to have a non-traditional work schedule.

Option 1) Work out a schedule for whoever you co-parent with. Also, talk to you kids if they are old enough to understand. My youngest is seven and I have found when I’m honest with him (even when he was five or so) and let him know that at a certain time after a call or specifically 10:37AM I can take some time to play with him, he understands.

Option 2) Schedule your kids’ day with activities. If they are not in remote schooling, make a schedule that includes reading or math (workbooks) or utilize some of the free web-based platforms that have been offering free educational activities such as Disney, NASA, and others. I recommend setting them up a makeshift workspace next to yours.

Option 3) My family has a scheduled time of the workday that we take a break. For example, during lunch we don’t just make food, we go throw the ball outside for 10-15 minutes. At 5:00PM we take our dog (yes, this is my little Frenchie, Sheldon) for a walk together. We also will do a family activity (i.e. movie, board game, etc.) each night.

Step #6 – Mental and physical health

I have found that I am looking at this time as a reset for everything I said I’d do at New Year’s that I didn’t do. I start the day stretching (by all means this is NOT exercise). We need to keep physically moving- it impacts us mentally more than we think. Sometimes, when NOBODY is paying attention in my house, I’ll have my Airpods in and rock out to music and stand up and have a little dance party. I typically feel so much better afterwards.

Step #7 – Make a personal professional goals list
I found this extremely helpful. Not going to lie though, I do need to practice what I preach here (uh….study for CPSM…). I have found that utilizing this time to figure out improvements to process or efficiency is extremely valuable. It’s also a good time to evaluate how to help some of your other co-workers and yourself keep busy. For example, since most people here are marketers, create a process and have administrative staff handle resume and representative project sheet updates. Let them help you clean up your network. Think of the things you wish you had time to do but had no time for because due dates are normally swishing by.

Step #8 – FUN

You need this just as much as your co-workers. Besides virtual happy hours, think of other fun things that can bring your teams together. The following are a few ideas that have been generated for my firm:

  • Office Fun Days: Friday Hawaiian Shirt Day, Crazy Hat or Sock Day, challenge other offices.
  • Clubs: Books, tv shows, sharing ideas for kid activities, home health, etc.
  • Professional Team Support Days: March Madness (college-wear days where you could ask them to support based on the different “regions” of March Madness), start of the baseball season.
  • Tell me Something Good Days: Similar to a radio show in Los Angeles.

Other helpful tips

  • Microsoft Teams for team collaboration
  • Video Chats/Group Meetings

Any idea at this point that you think can help morale is a good idea. We as marketers need to lead the way and help people through this time. This is really where our out-of-the-box creative ideas can be critical to the long-term success of our firms. The impact we have directly affects business productivity and collaboration, staff retention/recruitment, and so much more.

Brandi Barr
T.Y. Lin International | Associate Vice President, West Region Marketing Manager
2019-2020 SMPS Arizona Chapter Immediate Past President

Brandi holds a BA in Communication from Arizona State University and has 20 years of AEC marketing professional services experience. For the past 11 years, she has worked for T.Y. Lin International. She has also been recognized by the SMPS, Arizona Chapter as the recipient of three Marketing Communications Awards: Best Proposal (2014), Marketer of the Year (2015), and most recently Best Project Pursuit (2016). Her favorite thing to do is hang out with her husband, three kiddos, and French bulldog. To find her outside of work, check her daughter’s dance studio, son’s soccer or baseball/basketball/swimming practices, or watching sports (probably checking on her fantasy football teams).

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4 Comments

  1. David

    Apr. 8, 2020

    Great tips - thanks!

    Reply
  2. Crystal Pierce

    Apr. 7, 2020

    Love this! Thanks for sharing Brandi! :)

    Reply
  3. Tiffany Gorrell

    Apr. 7, 2020

    We have daily dance parties at 3:00 pm. One song, about 3 minutes of movement, but lots of smiles and laughs. Those that are too shy to turn on their cameras join in with giphys and emojis. A definite mood booster.

    Reply
  4. Christy Sipos

    Apr. 7, 2020

    Great reminders, thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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