Terra Caribbean - Blog

Working from home: How I changed my woes into wins!

Friday, March 27, 2020 | By Andrea Barry
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Working from home

Given the current COVID-19 pandemic that has swept across the world and touched down in our sister isle of T&T in the last couple weeks, working from home is no longer the exception but the rule. In the past, as a Terra Caribbean agent, we’ve always had the option to either work via remote access or come into the office and use the space there.

But with current conditions, we were strongly advised to stay home to do our part in flattening the curve. I could use some curve flattening! I welcomed the nearly mandatory work from home directive and thought, this should be fine, a walk in the park. But a week and a half in, this proved not to be exactly so. Here’s how I changed 5 woes into wins that may change my office life forever:

  • Working from home allows more hours of actual work!

For the newbie remote worker, working from home once you have sprung from your slumber and done your happy dance to not face traffic or scramble to make breakfast for the road, you quickly realize that you now have an average of 2-4 hours extra time on your hands. (whether to do laundry, cook, exercise) However, those income producing hours can be overshadowed by “free time” if your time is not scheduled properly and discipline is nonexistent. You may soon find yourself working later to compensate for slacking off earlier in the day. My advice? Get up, get dressed and get ready to work. Keep your normal work routine, but just from home. That’s where you’ll see the extra 2-4 hours materialize.

  • Let’s meet up…virtually.

I really thought no work team contact could be a good thing as conversations could be so good, they become distracting. Of course, self-isolation would be great to get into my zone and focus. But your team becomes your family and I realized I miss my colleagues. I missed the early cherry good mornings, light banter and camaraderie in the office that set the tone for the day.  So, to keep the human connection going, because we are inherently social animals, we schedule ZOOM meetings, which are more informal, fun, and fulfilling because we all appreciate the time spent on a call.

  • The balancing act: family and work.

You love them and cherish them but all of a sudden, they are in “your workspace” and they become your new coworkers. Balancing career and work is a true test of organization and time management skills but I did it! Sorting meals early-o-clock, labelling and setting timers for break and lunch were helpful. With teenage and older kids, I had to create as much order as possible to stay in control, even if it meant putting on headphones while working and then settling into family time later on. I’m sure it’s not the same for younger families, but creating timetables for yourself and those that you’re in charge of really helps with not going crazy.

  • Cabin fever!

Now you are sleeping, living and working in the same place. The walls are closing in. It’s imperative to change the scene and pace sometimes to break the monotony. Designate your workspace to a specific area and hold this sacred. But also, take your breaks, take a walk outside, sit and read a book during your lunch break on the patio, or call another colleague on lunch and keep those relationships alive.

  • Water up!

The fridge is not your vending machine! Repeat! The fridge is NOT your vending machine. Snacking is the new procrastination when at home. You will soon be ordering a new wardrobe. Water up! Often it is dehydration probably because there is no water cooler to stroll to (kinda part of the office socializing thing). Keep your glass or water bottle full and stay thirsty…not hungry.

Social distancing took a while to get used to but now I have some new habits for when I do work from home voluntarily in the future. I do know when this is over, the Terra Team will have an after work drinks lime in person, but until that time, until we all meet again we’ll just lime on ZOOM.

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