Many of us in this industry have always typically worked from home. Although we usually go out several times a week to meet with insureds, employees, field reps, clients, etc., the balance of our time is spent writing up reports, scheduling appointments, sending letters, returning voice mails and emails and just getting the general administrative part of the job done. As a field person, seven months of no contact has worn on my nerves a bit. For those who are used to being in an office full time, the work from home shift must be monumental.
Yes, after seven long months, WFH is still a thing. While social distancing is the new normal, professionals around the world are still stuck at home. Work must go on, though and one benefit of the WFH environment is more free time; we are no longer required to sit in front of the computer waiting for the email bell to ding. The added flexibility keeps work focused on results, not on time spent. We are relatively free to talk a walk, swim in the pool and play with the dog, as long as the work gets done on time.
According to research conducted by the Academy of Management, human communication naturally involves periods of high activity (called bursts), followed by periods of little to no activity. These silent periods are when team members often form and develop individual ideas. Bursts, on the other hand, help the entire team focus energy, achieve closure and move on to the next challenge. The key to this work strategy is to find times when team members can get together and focus on a task together.
Coordination can be complicated but bursting will help soften the jagged edges of Covid-induced WFH constraints. To encourage bursty creativity, keep your calendar up to date with time away for appointments and important errands, so colleagues know how and when to reach you (and when not to). Set boundaries and enforce them; respect your coworkers boundaries as well. Use your calendar or task manager to remind you to do things like, “ask Dave about that thing later” because you and Dave may not be online at the same time.
As the pandemic rolls on, work-life balance has too. Health, routines, peace of mind, professional output and personal life have all changed in ways no one could have predicted. In order to maintain productivity we cannot undervalue the importance of maintaining balance between work time and personal life. Working too much will eventually lead to burnout if (it hasn’t already). Even if you don’t get that far, productivity and creativity will surely suffer. Although work has invaded our home space, we cannot allow it to take over our entire life.
Try new things to make this extended quarantine-like life more bearable:
- Choose a remote work buddy and check in on each other several times a week to keep personal contact.
- Schedule a Zoom lunch, coffee break or happy hour to catch up with friends and co-workers like you normally would during a typical work week.
- Take this time to learn something new:
- Try a new hobby
- Become a virtual tutor
- Plant an herb garden
- Further your education through CE or earn a new degree
- Learn to play an instrument
- Learn a new language, or brush up on one
- Teach your pet some new tricks
- Start a novel
Afterward, get connected on a platform such as Microsoft Teams, Skype or Zoom to showcase your new talents.
Despite this time of uncertainty be assured we are still a strong, unified community.
This (pandemic) too shall pass.
 Academy of Management Discoveries Vol. 3, No. 4, Teams vs. Crowds, Christoph Riedl and Anita Williams Woolley, Published Online:8 Dec 2016https://doi.org/10.5465/amd.2015.0097