Welcome to the New Normal in the Workplace

What is the “new normal” for the workplace in this pandemic era? Why, it’s the workplace itself, of course. Tele-work, or working from home, has obviously increased by an enormous factor in the past several weeks, enhanced by the ever-growing number of “stay at home” directives that mandate the current condition. For many of you who are already working in this setting, this won’t register as a “blip” on your radar screen. For a lot of folks, however, these are uncharted waters.

Speaking for myself, I fall into this category of toiling in unfamiliar territory. I prefer to work from an office environment, where the buzz and bustle of personal interactions and professional collaboration plays a significant role in enhancing the work experience. Now I find myself in the relatively serene setting of my dining room, my loyal dog curled up beside me next to an open sliding door on this warm, spring morning, snoozing in the sun while Daddy types this article. The only sounds are her gentle snoring and the tinkle of a wind chime that slowly dances on a light breeze outside.

The problem with this “new normal” is that it sure doesn’t feel normal.

Dining room tables are for, well, dining, not meant to be covered by papers, documents, files, and such, with my laptop looming above it all.

Perhaps the person reading this has the same experience. If you do, the experts say there a few things you can do to alleviate this disconnected feeling and ensure you maintain focus to continue being a productive member of your organization.

First, if you don’t already do so, set a schedule each day that will organize your tasks and place priorities where they should be. Having a schedule will mirror the sensation your office provides: a near-constant reminder of your daily responsibilities, which can be hard to maintain when you often catch yourself staring at the china cabinet and realize it needs dusting.

Next, we’ve all heard the saying “dress for success.” It’s important to do the same when working from home. Some people can be productive working in their pajamas all day, and more power to them, but that doesn’t apply to most of us. While full-on business attire probably isn’t necessary, maintaining a semblance of a professional appearance, even dressing business casual, can have a positive impact on your mindset.

Finally, if at all possible, carve out space in your home that can serve as your new office, that’s used only as a workplace. And while distractions from kids and pets will always happen, try to take steps to minimize their effect. Learning programs and structured play activity for children can help, as can taking the family dog for a walk—which will have the added benefit of getting yourself away for a bit to refresh your mind and body with a bit of exercise.

With ideas like these and others, we can find a way to maintain our productivity in both work and life, and eventually get past these trying times we’re all experiencing at present.