Maintaining productivity and well-being while working from home
Across Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic is seeing most non-essential personnel work from home where possible. Those who are used to working from home occasionally will find that switching over to full-time remote work requires some adjustment. Frontline workers may be keeping irregular and/or reduced official ‘office hours’, and must adapt different technologies and tactics for keeping in touch with coworkers and tenants. If circumstances find you working from home full or part-time, we hope the tips below will help you keep your productivity and your spirits, up.
Get the tools you need to stay connected and perform your job
If working remotely is entirely new to you, hopefully you have an IT person or a tech savvy co-worker who can help you get set up.
If your workplace doesn’t have the ability to allow employees to connect to its network remotely (via VPN) or through the cloud, you may have to physically download the materials you need onto a USB directly from your workstation. Be sure to practice social distancing protocols while doing so, and wash your hands thoroughly when you leave the office.
Access a web-powered version of your work email. If your office uses Microsoft Outlook, use the Outlook Web App to access a simplified version of your work email account. Check with your manager, IT person or that tech savvy co-worker to get started.
Staying connected to your team is extremely important in keeping your organization running smoothly. If your team isn’t already using Microsoft Teams, Zoom Meetings, Slack or a similar tool, now is a good time to start. These programs facilitate chat between coworkers (often simpler than sending emails) and host conference calls. Using one of these tools will keep employees in the loop and help your organization run more smoothly, with the added bonus of helping to ease the social isolation that many of us may feel as we practice social distancing
Manage your schedule and personal space
Common advice for working from home, such as keeping regular office hours and following your usual morning routine may work for some people, but working from home shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. Keeping your regular schedule may not be feasible if you’re caring for children or other loved ones, or if you simply work better in your sweatpants. It may take some experimentation, but find what works for you and stick with it.
Here are some things you can do, no matter your situation, to help you stay motivated and avoid burning out.
Try to keep regular working hours. If you are not expected to be on call, don’t be. It can be easy to lose track of time when you’re working from home, but try to log off at the end of your workday. Of course, as a housing provider, there are times where you may need to solve an issue that pops up. Make sure your coworkers know how to reach you if something needs your urgent attention.
Take breaks throughout the day. Be sure to take your lunch hour and/or short breaks when possible. Taking breaks will help you refocus your thoughts and energy throughout the day. Consider doing some stretches, a quick online yoga video, or going for a short walk in your neighbourhood, following social distancing protocols.
If you’re balancing work with your role as a caregiver, you will often find yourself stepping away from work. In this case, it’s just as important (even more so), to find a few minutes for yourself throughout the day, where possible.
Take advantage of the time you save by not commuting
Without your commute, you may suddenly find yourself with some extra time in your day. Try to use it wisely. Read a book, do some professional development activities, bake cookies – whatever you think will benefit your state of mind. If you’re a caregiver, your ‘free time’ will likely be spoken for, but perhaps you can use it to spend some quality time with the person(s) you’re caring for.
Maintain contact with your community and stakeholders
This is a time of uncertainty for all of us. The best way ensure things run smoothly and to keep people calm is to provide information as necessary and keep in touch. If your property management office is closed or working on reduced hours, communicate clearly with tenants about how to reach staff via posted notices, email, or phone calls. Ensure that community/governmental partners, contractors, etc. know how to reach you. Post any operational changes and/or contact information on your website and social media channels, where applicable.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach and everyone must find solutions that work for them on an individual and organizational level.
If you have questions about keeping your organization running during the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit our website to download Pandemic Planning for Non-Profit Housing Providers, a free resource for ONPHA Members.