Businesswoman Holding Her Back While Working On Laptop At Office Desk

Striking the balance when Working From Home

Dear World,

Self-preservation is necessary when working from home. It should be mandatory and set high on everyone’s priority list.

Blessed and Annoyed

I’ve been working from home since April 2, 2020.

It’s been a blessing and an annoyance in my life. This somewhat unprecedented move of working from home is as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

In addition to the initial stay at home Order, I requested an extended work from home period because my commute puts me and my household at greater risk of contracting the virus. I was fortunate to be granted that extended stay. I’m not tryna get infected in the name of being productive to get the dollar. Nope.

The blessing also lies in the field in which I work. I’m in tech and media. Like, I’ve been saying that work from home could totally work. Literally everything that I am paid to do can be done from home.

But, in the eyes and mentality of the ones who pay, you’re not working if they dont see you at your desk.

How backward is that?!

It took a whole pandemic to trigger the practice of working from home.

Pardon me as I count my blessings and roll my eyes at the same time.

It isn’t lost on me, however, that there are folks out there who have no choice but to go ‘in office’, whatever their office looks like. So I am indeed grateful for the situation I am in.

But with some positives, there are accompanying negatives.

Now that I’ve addressed part of my blessings, let me get into the annoyances.

Pre COVID-19, I started work at 8:30 am and I ended work at 5:00 pm and sometimes at 4:00 pm. And, as far as I am concerned, that hasn’t changed.

Now, can you tell me why it is that my assigned work phone goes off well before 8:30 am and well after 5:00 pm? Don’t get me started on the weekend contacting.

You’re not sure? Let me tell you.

Give them an inch and they take a mile

Folks feel that because you work from home and since you have a work phone, you’re on call 24/7 and on your days off.

Imagine that!

How delusional can you be to think its okay to contact your coworker outside of work hours about work? If you ask me, that is unprofessional.

Bear in mind that I am not ‘on-call’ outside of the regular and acceptable hours. You know, Monday to Friday and days off.

Anywho, what I do is, at the next appropriate day and time, I return all calls, respond to all unanswered messages and emails and I keep it moving.

You know why? Nothing is ever that urgent that it can’t wait…and if it is that urgent, the onus is on those who lead you to put appropriate measures in place instead of harassing you.

Remember, self preservation.

Jokes for days

Here’s a COVIDious joke for you:
I was reprimanded for not picking up a call or responding to a message sent when I wasn’t working.

Here’s another COVIDious joke for you:
I was cooking dinner during work hours and I heard the work phone ring. I literally ran from the kitchen, all anxious, to get the phone and I forgot to turn the flame down. My rice was partially burnt at the end if it all.

Fun and jokes aside…

It is never okay to receive work calls after hours or even before hours.

It is also never okay to be anxious about answering a work call during the day out of fear that folks will think you’re not doing your job. That’s what happened to me and that is why my rice was burnt.

Let me pause before I continue to rant.

Lessons in Working from Home

The past five months of stay at home work has taught me some major valuable lessons –

– set boundaries at every level
This is inclusive of saying “no”. Do not take up projects that should be done by others. If you’re asked to assist and you know deep down that you cant help, for everyone’s sake (especially your own, say no).

Do not answer work calls outside of work hours. Do not respond to work messages outside of work hours. If it’s your day off, why is your phone even in your presence?

Listen, it could be the boss or the boss’s boss. Leave it alone until the new work day starts.

– do the balancing act

This in no way means that you attack every fire at once. It means that you prioritise and focus on the more pressing matters first instead of trying to out multiple fires. You’re bound to get burned if you try to multitask. So, balance your time well.
Balance also includes managing matters of your household uninterrupted by work matters.

– never allow work to taint your home

Working from home can easily bring unwanted and unnecessary stress in what should be your place to relax. Leave the work business in the figurative workspace.

Speaking of workspace…

– identify a workspace in your home

And, stay there while you work. Leave all the 9-5 wins and challenges right there. That’s it.

– Set and follow some rules of engagement.

It is quite easy to have your expectations muddied when clear rules of engagement aren’t set. And, since you have no control of how others approach situations, you must control what you do and how you do it.

Resulting from that, I have some rules to suggest you apply to your life. You may adjust them based on your work hours and your needs. If you apply these or similar rules, you will form healthy habits.

Work from Home Rules of Engagement:

1. Start working when work actually starts
2. Stop working when work actually ends
— if you absolutely have to work a little later or start a little earlier, do it but do not make it a habit!
3. Plan your work week before the work week actually begins. (Take between 30 mins to an hour to do this)
4. Have your lunch
5. Take short breaks while at work
6. Place your work phone on Do Not Disturb outside of work hours.
7. Exit the email inbox window when work ends. Close and shutdown the computer.
8. Do self affirming talks with yourself before you start your work days, during your work days and at the end of each work day.
9. Say “no” without guilt and extended explanations.
10. Always do your best – not to be misunderstood as overworking yourself 11. Get enough sleep
12. Do not skip your meals
13. Oh my goodness, bathe! Wash your face and brushyour teeth.
14. For crying out loud, make up your bed!
15. Preserve yourself

It is imperative that I share that these rules and lessons are often hard to follow and ascribe to. It takes plenty of discipline. It doesn’t mean that we can’t bend a little to address any outliers.

Bend. Don’t break!

Woah, I feel like I was on a rollercoaster ride of emotions just now. I say all that to tell you this. – Strike the healthy balance as best as you can and preserve your entire being – your emotional, mental and physical.

The Suburban Girl JA

(Candice Stewart)

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