Remote Work in Challenging Times—Steps to Survive and Thrive

For many professionals, like those of us at Gorman Health Group (GHG), we were working from home (i.e., remotely) before the words “Coronavirus” or “COVID-19” were ever spoken. Prior to social distancing and “shelter in place” orders, 43% of US employees worked remotely at least some of the time. Surveys are currently underway to determine how COVID-19 will impact this statistic.

The reality is that mandatory work-from-home (WFH) policies are needed and necessary in this crisis. Although this change was not at all disruptive to the way GHG works, we understand that, for many others, this is new territory, and you may be faced with challenges you weren’t prepared to overcome. (Like arguing with a cat who insists on sitting directly on your keyboard.)

Drawing on our many years of experience in the WFH space, the advisors at GHG wanted to provide some advice for working remote effectively:

Confirm you have adequate technology and connectivity.

  • This includes your laptop, charger, mouse, and keyboard.
  • Contact your IT department to ensure you have what you need to securely connect to servers and systems.
  • Utilize videoconferencing whenever possible. As humans, we need to feel connected—consider daily standups with your team or even virtual “coffee breaks” to bridge the gap created by social distancing.
  • Contact your internet service provider. Many companies are offering price breaks during this time for increased bandwidth.

Stick to your schedule.

  • Most of us have regular working hours. Whether that’s an 8-, 10-, or 12-hour day, continuing your regular hours and sticking to your usual schedule will help maintain a sense of normalcy.
  • Most people recommend getting ready and dressing for the day you would have had if you went into the office. While you likely can work in your “comfies” all day, research shows that you are more productive if you’re dressed and ready for the day, rather than lounging in your “lazy” clothes. Ultimately, it’s all based on your preference. However you feel most effective, stick to that!
    • If you participate in video meetings, continuing to represent your “professional self” is the way to go.

Dedicate a workspace.

  • If you have an office, that’s ideal. Your workspace should be as separate as possible from the places dedicated to other activities, like eating or sleeping.
    • Research shows that a delineation between workspace and living space helps you get into the right mindset, maintain focus, and stay motivated while working. If you try to work in the place where you live and play, you’re more likely to get distracted.
      • This also helps you disconnect when the day is over by leaving your work in that space.
  • If a separate office is not possible, consider an area in your bedroom, dining room or kitchen that is sectioned off from the main purpose of the room.
  • Let the family know that during work hours, that’s your space. Set ground rules.

Ensure you are being productive.

  • Limit distractions such as television, barking dogs, or children by wearing noise-canceling headphones.
  • Update your to-do list every morning and set time limits for each task when appropriate.
    • Like a financial budget where we allocate money to specific activities, you should do the same with your time using a detailed schedule. This will help keep you on task and progressing towards your goals.
  • If you manage employees, take extra time to meet with them virtually. Create an agenda that includes updates from each team member, so they can contribute. Employees need to feel valued, not disconnected, and regular video or conference calls help accomplish that.

Keep your scheduled breaks.

  • Don’t skip your morning coffee, whether you get a cup from your kitchen or the local drive thru coffee shop.
  • Take a scheduled lunch break, and enjoy a healthy, home-prepared meal. Consider a brief home workout to get your body physically moving.
    • Consider using any extra time for evening meal prep.
  • Take an afternoon break. Go for a brisk walk with the kids and/or the dog.

Find new ways to take advantage of commute time.

  • Take an online exercise class.
  • Do yoga, meditate, dance.
  • Read! Tackle that book you’ve been wanting to read but couldn’t find the time.

Remember that this is a trying time for everyone. While working remote may come easy to some, for others, it will be a significant challenge, and we need to be considerate of that. No matter how you organize your day, it’s important to find moments that you can embrace. An early morning coffee on the porch while the sun is rising. Extra time in the shower or tub. The chance to write a letter to a loved one, service member, or local nursing home or extended care facility. Above all, be patient and be kind.

And if you just can’t get the cat off your keyboard, try putting a cardboard box next to your computer. That’ll keep them entertained until everything is back to normal!

This is a time of great uncertainty, and the healthcare industry is at the forefront of a global battle against COVID-19. If you have any coronavirus disease-related questions, consider attending our upcoming virtual open forum on Thursday, March 26th, where the healthcare experts at GHG and analytics leaders at Pareto Intelligence will answer all of your specific questions across a variety of topics, including Marketing, Star Ratings, Risk Adjustment, Compliance, Network Adequacy and Development, Telehealth and Analytics.