NCF gives advice on WFH (working from home)

COVID-19 has changed virtually everything about how we’re working, where we’re working, and what we’re all working on. The Nebraska Community Foundation team has members based all across the state of Nebraska in communities of all sizes. We are lucky that our transition to WFH (working from home) has been relatively seamless given that many of our staff members were already performing their job duties remotely prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is some advice from a few of our most seasoned Greater Nebraska WFHers:

 

Stay on a schedule! Get up, get dressed in work attire (though casual some days). Get going in the morning. Set meetings on the calendar. Stay busy. I’m finding that keeping the calendar pretty full is helping me stay focused during work hours. The more time spent on productive work, the less time worrying or reading more news than I should!

KC Belitz | Chief Operating Officer based in Columbus

 

I have worked from home (always serving a region with some road time weekly) for 14 years. I can’t imagine not working from home at this point. Here’s some sage advice:

  1. Do your best to make a clear line between workspace and home space (with masking tape, if you need to).
  2. Just because you office/work from home does not mean you are accessible to your work colleagues 24/7. Set boundaries and stick to them.
  3. Along the same line, make sure the people at home respect your space and your work time. My kids were two and four years old when I started working from home, so they don’t know any different.
  4. Keeping in mind #3, give yourself and the people around you, some grace.
  5. Especially during this time of isolation, take real breaks. Log out of your computer for lunch and eat in the kitchen or outside, with loved ones if possible.
  6. Being around people energizes me. During this time of isolation, I added “walk” to my calendar at 3:00 PM every workday. I don’t always do it, but chances are if it is on my calendar and I get a lovely reminder, I might!
  7. I committed to myself many years ago to write one hand-written note a week. I have kicked that into high-gear during this time of isolation and may write five in one day. It makes me feel good and connected and I can only hope it does the same for others.
  8. Have some fun!

Dena Beck | Affiliated Fund Development Coordinator based in Minden

 

Schedule time for daily exercise (preferably outdoors) and personal care. Turn off your computer and don’t read work emails on the weekend. Reach out to friends and acquaintances by phone, don’t wait until it is too late to remind yourself, and them, how much their friendship has meant to you. Make plans for a road trip, to check something off your bucket list, or to just meet up with folks once the pandemic is safely in the past.

Steve Brewster | Affiliated Fund Development Coordinator based in Stuart

 

Limit the number of zoom sessions, avoid back to back when possible. Those of us in Greater Nebraska are accustomed to internet accessibility issues so if you can, plug directly into your router to improve internet connection and avoid wi-fi.

Finally, place something beautiful in your work area and stay connected to your community!

Denise Garey | Affiliated Fund Development Coordinator based in McCook

 

Build in breaks in your day to get up from your desk. Do something around the house or go for a short walk. The point is to move and to let your mind have a rest.

If you don’t have set hours that you are expected to work, figure out what hours in the day you plan to work and then make sure you are “off” in the time that is supposed to be non-work hours. Otherwise you risk burning out with too much work in one day.

If your family is at home with you and your kids are old enough to care for themselves, make sure they know when you plan to be working and when you are free. Give them a heads up on meeting times, so you will have minimal disruptions.

 

Find a place for your pets when you are on calls or in meetings. Even the best pets like to get your attention when your attention is elsewhere.

Kristine Gale | Community Impact Coordinator based in North Platte

 

Sometimes working from home makes it harder to feel like part of a team. You have to be intentional about building those relationships. I find phone calls with colleagues helpful, or a little bit of light-heartedness on a group Zoom meeting to build camaraderie (we are fortunate at NCF that we almost always take the time to share a laugh on our virtual staff meetings!) Take the time to identify what it is that helps you feel connected to the people you work with, and then be sure to carve out time for that regularly.

Planning ahead for office supplies can be challenging. Take inventory of the things you use regularly….printer ink and paper, stamps, notecards/notebooks, staples… whatever little things you use often, be sure to have on hand because there is nothing worse than not having it when you need it! That is especially true if don’t have a store nearby that sells office supplies (as is the case where I live) or when you are trying to avoid extra trips to the store under the current circumstances. Understand, also, that you will inevitably encounter a situation where you don’t have something you need. Don’t let it frustrate you. Instead, employ your best problem-solving skills and I think you’ll find that you waste a lot less once your brain is programmed to survive without a fully-stocked supply room!

Don’t let your workspace take over your whole house. I like to move around the house as I work throughout the day. However, I insist on keeping my work stuff contained to one area and organized (for the most part!). When that area starts to get crowded and messy, it’s a good indicator that it’s probably time to go through my files and get rid of things I no longer need. I would also recommend having a small shredder at home so you are not throwing sensitive documents and materials in the trash.

Have a routine, but give yourself the grace to be flexible with it (especially right now with other family members at home too). Begin and end your workday at pretty much the same time every day. If you need uninterrupted time to focus, find a place in your home with minimal distractions and communicate with your family (assuming they are old enough to understand and reason with) that you need a certain amount of time and should only be interrupted in cases of emergency. Other times, when you do not have something as pressing to tend to, allow yourself to set aside what you are working on for a few minutes to answer a question about homework, help the kids find the tools they need for the project they want to work on, help find the missing LEGO piece, etc… Even before the pandemic, I operated that way – get the mail, move the load of laundry over, unload the dishwasher. Take those minutes you need for a mental break to move and stay active. (A COVID-19 silver lining in my house has been asking my kids to help with those things so they can learn one of the most important lessons of all: how to keep house!)

Lastly, it’s important to do something to signal the end of the work day. For me, at the end of the day I close my laptop and put it away, turn on music (usually pour a glass of wine or an IPA) and begin preparing our evening meal. It could be something as simple as turning your computer off, or taking a walk around the block. It doesn’t matter what it is, just be sure to send that signal to yourself that you are “leaving” the office for the evening and going “home”!

Janny Crotty | Assistant Director of Advancement based in Auburn