Take a breath….and take care.

Suggestions on managing self-care and remote work through these tough times.

In these uncertain times, we need to focus on what we can do to make a positive impact on those around us, whether it be in your personal or professional world. While I’m no expert, I have helped several Fortune 100 companies create Flexible Work Arrangements including Work from Home alternatives as well as creative work settings for some exceptional circumstances throughout my decades of experience as an executive in human resources.

  1. Avoid isolation. Participate in conference calls and video conferencing with team members, friends and family to stay connected; be sure to include a fair amount of video/FaceTime calls to have a visual reference to gauge the health and well-being of others.
  2. Self-care. What do you and your family members, teams, friends need to optimize your situation? Take this time to focus on doing what you all need to do individually as well as in the family unit; it may be a family dinner, game night or some alone time to read and reflect. Whatever it is pay attention to the cues that others provide and help them stay well mentally, physically, socially and emotionally. Also be sure to have necessary medications on-hand and take vitamins and food supplements as needed to maintain a healthy level of physical care.
  3. Healthy protocol. Wash hands often, clean high traffic areas regularly, keep anti-bacterial soap out and available for others to apply after their use to limit germs on surfaces.
  4. Seek medical attention. Get help from a professional when needed; especially if you suspect that you may have the virus to limit it’s ill-effects. Recognize the strain and personal anguish felt by those that have contracted the illness and exposed others without knowing it and unintentionally putting friends, loved ones and colleagues at risk. Follow all guidelines to notify and inform others as appropriate.
  5. Communicate. Be open to conversations with young children and elderly adults about what’s going on; the fear of what’s not being said is very scary for them. I believe the important thing here is to protect but share enough so they are informed and not hearing it from their friends but rather a trusted adult.
  6. Set clear performance expectations and goals. Be direct with your employees, no different than you would otherwise, and have recurring discussions on their performance and progress on goals. Working remote brings the challenge of distance to the forefront; regular conversations between managers, employees and teams will reduce aprehension and build community.
  7. Be aware and understanding. These stressful situations can increase anxiety for those that experience it and an unknown emotion for those that don’t have a history of it. Talk to them and help them take control of what is within their sphere of influence and discuss what is not.
  8. Moderate. While it is important to stay informed of local and global events in the news, manage the exposure for yourself and family members so that you have down time. It is also important to limit the amount of food and alcohol to appropriate levels; you are the best judge of what that is for you.
  9. Exercise. Take special care to get the activity in that you need to maintain a healthy attitude. Exercise is a good way to manage stress and stay well.
  10. Extend help. Check in with neighbors and friends who are not able to get out and take care of what they need to do. It may be dropping off prescriptions for an elderly neighbor, delivering groceries or a meal to a family with small children. Offer assistance to those children and families who count on the school system for meals; they need to fill the void and nutrition is essential for their growth and development. This is an especially scary time for children who experience abuse and neglect as their outside exposure is limited.
  11. Share. While we have heard stories of those that are hoarding supplies of limited items, be the one to offer up what you have to those who have less. Helping others creates a physiological event with endorphins and you are better off as a result. Volunteer for special assistance in the community where there may be a need.
  12. Listen and care. Bridge the gap for those in personally challenging situations such as weddings, graduations, retirements, births, deaths and other significant life events. The events were changed well outside of their control and for some, the anticipated best day of their life has become a traumatic event.  
  13. Leverage technology. Bridge any in-person meetings and obligations with technology alternatives. Determine a plan to help colleagues creatively identify a plan to meet the needs of their job while minimizing exposure and risk. Remember that there is a higher risk of over work than in working too little for remote workers.
  14. Establish a separate work area. When possible, designate a work area that is removed from others in the residence and maintain as consistent a work schedule as possible. Forward office phones to your remote site for a seamless customer and colleague experience. Make sure that the desk, chair, computer and other office equipment are at appropriate levels for ergonomics to be optimized so that you are not injured or exposed to unnecessary strain from bad posture. There are many online resources for this information if you are not aware of the ergonomic i. At the end of ur workday, leave work behind to refresh and be with friends and loved ones (virtually or physically) as much as your workload allows. There is ample research that the risk of overwork is higher than not working enough for remote workers, be aware of the amount that you are working and manage it accordingly.
  15. Enrich yourself. Read a book, write a story or research something that you’ve been putting off. There are a number of accredited online programs, now may be the perfect opportunity to increase your knowledge and enhance your resume.
  16. Celebrate. Enjoy the positive life events and times with those in your life by sending a card, calling and just reaching out to be there whether you are in close proximity or from a distance.
  17. Random acts of kindness. Do what you can to surprise those in your world in special and meaningful ways.  
  18. Be grateful. Remember all that you have and be appreciative for it. Express your appreciation to those close to you. Make sure that they know they are appreciated.

I am confident that we will get through this challenging time of uncertainty; the variable is how many others we help along the way. As I mentioned, there’s a direct and tangible benefit to helping others that promotes you directly. Take care and let me know if I can help you in any way!

Maggie Debner, Executive Coach and HR Consultant at HR MD

Published by Maggie Debner

HR Executive Coach & Consultant

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