When I was doing research for the first edition of my book, Reduce Interruptions…you don’t have to be a victim, working from home was relatively rare.
A 2014 article in the Harvard Business Review touted a meaningful increase in productivity among call center workers who volunteered to work from home. In 2011, Psychology Today was publishing articles about the psychological impacts of working from home.
As a result, many companies caught on. In the past five years, I’ve noticed a marked increase in the number of clients who work from home.
But now, there’s COVID-19 and anyone who can work from home probably is doing so.
I’m sure many of you newly-working-from-homers are thriving. You may have struggled through your first few videoconference sessions but have grown to love the feeling of processing email while wearing fuzzy socks.
However, I have received several emails in the past week from readers who are struggling…and struggling significantly.
I have curated several articles containing tip-based lists for those that are struggling. I will include them below. I read through them all and think that most of their suggestions are sound.
I like tip lists. I write tip lists. But what interests me most about this global work-from-home phenomenon is why some people are thriving and others are struggling.
I have a doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology, and occasionally I sound like a pompous nerd. This is likely to be one of those times.
Here’s my hypothesis.
Medical professionals (by the way, God bless you all) often observe that when a family member gets a serious illness, whatever family dynamic has existed for years gets magnified.
Here’s an example: A child in a family of four gets diagnosed with cancer.
Families who have good communication, tend to work together well, and/or have a firm faith foundation will have better communication, a better ability to work together, and a firmer faith. Not perfect, but better.
By contrast, families who have grown apart, fail to communicate effectively, and/or tend to treat each other with disrespect will likely grow further apart, communication will cease, and disrespect will flourish.
In a crisis, whatever exists at baseline often gets pushed to the extremes.
We are in a crisis – globally. Whatever baseline dynamics we have in our families, businesses, and governments are likely being pushed to the extremes.
But I digress. Let’s get back to the mass work-from-home phenomenon.
If you are thriving in your work-from-home situation, it is likely because you had well-functioning time, task, and information-management systems to begin with. Or, you don’t have any young kids.
If you are struggling, it may be because you had time, task, and information-management systems that were:
- Present, but are not transferable from your workplace to home
- Minimally effective, even when you were using them at your workplace
- Nonexistent in the first place
…or you have young kids.
The way you managed your work before this crisis is likely magnified now.
What to do if you are struggling with working from home:
If you need work from home tips, I offer these resources:
- Michael Hyatt’s work from home handbook
- Seana Turner’s blog post, Reconsidering Productivity
- Julie Bestry’s blog post, The Now Normal
- 5 Tips for Working from Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak by Chase Williams
- Brad Carmony’s LinkedIn article
- Sonia Arcieri’s LinkedIn article
If you have found other good articles, please share them in the comments section.
If implementing a work-from-home tip doesn’t solve the problem. You need one-on-one coaching. You likely have a productivity problem that has been exacerbated by this current crisis.
For that reason, I am offering a first-ever special on a two-session package of coaching for $499 (limited time, one special per person, blah, blah, blah).
In two sessions, we will dive into your top productivity concern and do some crisis management together. Each session is 50-minutes and takes place using Zoom. Email me if you are interested.
If you have young children in the house, I offer you this picture from my Facebook profile a few years ago.
I also offer you love, solidarity, and this classic BBC video that makes me laugh every time I watch it.
And now, for an update on Captain Corona & the 19 COVID Warriors!
ICYMI: I, along with a dedicated team, wrote, edited, illustrated, published, and marketed a children’s book in 10 days. It is designed to help children cope with the COVID-19 crisis by focusing on the helpers and the heroes/heroines during this unprecedented event. It is called Captain Corona & the 19 COVID Warriors.
Here are some amazing feats of generosity from the Captain Corona team:
- Jen Dangelo crafted a Captain Corona webpage in record time for my website
- Marjorie Young helped create and distribute a press release that resulted in a FRONT-PAGE ARTICLE in the Savannah Morning News, among other news features
- Andria Black is currently writing a series of articles on her LinkedIn profile highlighting philanthropic opportunities associated with our 19 COVID Warriors
- Julie Bestry, the book’s editor, has shared, shared, and shared some more on social media
- Brittany Curry, the book’s illustrator, is working with several media outlets to publicize the book as well as sharing it on social media
- Maddie Gratias, my daughter, created a series of thank-you memes that are free for you to download and share on social media to express your gratitude to the helpers in this crisis
Action requested from you, my friend
This is a grass roots effort that will not succeed without everyone helping. If you are not a parent or a teacher of elementary school-aged kids, you are connected to one on social media.
Please, please share the link below on all your social media accounts…several times.
Trust me that there is little good news (other than pictures of cute dogs) floating around on social media right now. Your tribe will appreciate hearing about this book.
I’ll continue to keep you updated.
Melissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.