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Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

This post is not about the amazing Netflix series, Tiger King, although that might be in development! Today, I'm thinking about WFH. There's been a lot of advice going round about how to adjust to working from home, with people - including myself, in this recent post for Emerald - providing hints and tips on coping. But I've also seen requests for information aimed at this new normal. What's different in our lockdown situation? Is it WFH as usual, or something else? It certainly feels different to me, so for people heading into remote working for the first time, it must be very unsettling. WE CAN GET THROUGH THIS! Here are my three top tips.

1. Don't think WFH is always like this!

The situation we find ourselves in is definitely not normal. I've been in my home office for over 5 years and never experienced anything like this. My 'normal' day goes something like this: I send the offspring and partner off to where they spend their days, then I settle in with the cat to a day of peace and quiet, working through my to-do list at a speed that suits how I'm feeling that day. The last two weeks has been more like this: we all emerge from bed at different times of the day, have a leisurely breakfast and argue about schoolwork not getting done before I go and sit at my desk and stare at the screen, trying to get my brain to work. So, if you're WFH for the first time, or settling into full-time remote working, keep in mind that it isn't usually this extreme.

2. Don't expect too much

Which leads to my second point. You might hear that WFH increases output - and, for many of us, it does. But that's when the phone is quieter, you can switch off from your emails and only attend a small handful of meetings. With everyone remote working, this isn't the case. You're now making an effort to keep in touch, so those online meetings and phone calls can be very welcome, just to see a different face or hear another voice. I have a different approach to productivity than a lot of people but, even with my levels of flexibility, if I get one good thing done a week at the moment, I'm delighted. It just isn't realistic - or feasible - to have the same level of expectations for yourself or anyone else in these crazy times. So stop putting yourself under pressure.

3. Go with the flow

My last tip is to keep calm and relax. At the moment, no-one knows when this lockdown period will end. It might be in a couple of weeks, but more likely it will be another couple of months. Keep that in mind when you plan how to spend your time. I'm lucky enough to have work to keep me going, but I'm also having to juggle and support other people's needs and emotions. My own emotions are all over the shop - one minute, I'm enjoying the hibernation; the next, I'm bouncing off the walls. So, at this time more than perhaps any other, I'm calling for everyone to just go with the flow. Take it easy - and, if you're a manager or employer, please do the same for your teams. Don't expect yourself or other team members to be on top form all the time. And don't worry if you need more of a gap between your online meetings. Listen to what your body and mind are telling you, and go with it.

I'm really hoping that something great comes out of this crisis, moving us all forward into that 'workplace of the future' so many people have been talking about for years. And a big part of that is the flexibility to work from where you want, when you want. This situation is not that! So let's all pull together, support each other however we can, and breathe a sigh of relief that we're not part of the surreal world that is Tiger King!


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