I will be the first to raise my hand and say: This is hard. This whole situation we’re in—dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic and its repercussions, including social distancing—is strange, emotional, and at times physically exhausting.
With that being said, the longer we are in this situation, the easier it becomes to navigate, once you do one thing: Give yourself and others GRACE. We all handle things and deal with things differently, and this is uncharted territory for all of us. But we truly are all in this together, and in that, I take some comfort.
While I won’t pretend to be a writer—not now, and not after writing this—I will give you this: my truth and my observations during this pandemic. I am definitely not perfect. I am still working on not visiting the fridge so often, on trying to control my online shopping urges, and on trying to be as positive as I can. I am a work in progress—but so is this situation. I have seen some pretty miraculous things come out of this pandemic, and I want to share those with you.
A little background on me: I worked in a corporate environment for 10 years. I was in an office we called the “bullpen”; it was loud, it was wild, it was full of energy. I left that role four years ago and started working remotely—that was a very big change and one that took some getting used to.
I was reminded of this when my husband started working from home four weeks ago (his company has gone 75 percent remote during this time). I am not going to lie here, my first thought was, “*GASP*! How in the heck will we be able to make this work? Will we end up divorced?” OK, maybe that is a little dramatic, but you get the point. I love my husband more than life, but this is A LOT of time to spend together in one space.
As he started fixing himself a makeshift office, I watched him struggle with balance and having the freedoms that come with being at home—the things I had forgotten that I struggled with at first, too. After the dust settled and we began our second week, we realized how great this could really be. By no means am I saying this pandemic is a good thing; it most certainly is not, and I am very saddened by all who have been affected or have had loved ones affected by COVID-19.
What I am saying is, I found out a few things about life and about myself—foremost among them, to BE THANKFUL. We have food, a home, a wonderful family, a sweet dog, and our health. We eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner together and have had some really great life and work conversations together. I’ve realized how much I really take for granted, and I personally need to be better about remembering this—not only today, but always. Because we will come out on the other side of this, and I am hoping that I will be a better person when I get there.
Here are a few things that not only have we been implementing at home, but that I’ve heard that my team and clients are doing as well. I think they are really impactful to boost morale and bring joy to others they encounter. Remember: You don’t have to be the boss to boost morale!
A Phone Call
Yes, as simple as it seems, this is a biggie. Right at the start of this, my boss called me. Just a call to say how are you? Are you okay? What can I do to help you? This was something that meant a lot to me. I work for a small, fifth-generation, family-owned company, and even though I may not be blood, in their eyes, I know I am family. It was simply that, a call to check in on me and my family. It meant a lot. Reaching out to employees via text, email, phone, or card can really make a person’s day brighter.
These are not a new concept, but they’re being widely used right now. Virtual meetings really are a great way to keep in touch and SEE your peers and the faces that you miss. One of my friends had a work happy hour at 4:30 p.m. on a Friday, where they each made their favorite drink, and everyone did a show and tell with their pets on Zoom. It went swimmingly! These don’t just have to be for work; virtual happy hours are definitely a thing! A group of my friends and I were able to do this and it was FUN! Just to see their smiling faces was a bright part of my day.
Celebrate the Small Things—Personally and as a TEAM
I am celebrating wearing a top and pj pants that match today—yes peeps, no victory is too small here! You all have lots of wins on a daily basis, but you may just not recognize them! Look around and see what you have accomplished for the day and share it with your team. We can all relate to each other right now and become closer because of it! Send pictures of you working from home and your family, pets, and children!
I hate to admit it, but nothing makes me feel better. I am not a fitness champion or guru, but dang it, it works. Getting the blood flowing always improves by mental clarity, attitude, and energy level. My husband and I are Farrell’s members, and we are lucky to have access to online workout classes. Our makeshift gym is really rough and we are using tide pod containers for weights—again, it is amazing how creative our minds can be when we are desperate! You don’t have to do intense workouts though; walking, yoga, or anything to just keep moving works.
Do you have a lot of SOMEDAY projects that are hanging around? I know I do. I always say, “Someday, I will have time to do these.” What better time than now? This is only going to put me in a better position after things get back to a more normal state. If you are like me, those projects live in the back of your mind and “nag” at you all the time. Getting them done helps to declutter your brain and make you feel a sense of accomplishment! (While I have implemented this in my work life and have gotten a lot done, I have yet to apply this to my personal life, and my closet shows it …)
This is the perfect time to recognize and value your greatest asset: your team and your customers. I have been working with several companies to recognize staff with small gifts of appreciation that can be delivered right to their door. Anything from T-shirts (our company did a neat project that delivered T-shirts to employees at home, so they could all wear their T-shirts together when they were in virtual team meetings!) to bags (I worked with a company to send drawstring bags out to their team to engage and say thank you for your hard work—all delivered to their door) to food gifts, my personal favorite (again, they can be drop shipped right to your team members’ homes)! Don’t forget awards for anniversaries and small items to say “we are here and with you” to your customers. It does not have to cost a lot to make a big difference in someone’s day.
Give Back and Be Kind
I always knew we had a great Iowa Kind community, but to see some of the things that people are doing for others is unbelievably generous. People making masks, donating time, making hand sanitizer, and supporting local businesses: These people are heroes. Giving back can be as simple as smiling and saying thank you to all the people putting their safety on the line every day, from cashiers at the store and healthcare workers to factory workers and transportation workers, and so many others. Let them know they are admired!
A lot of these things can be applied to your personal life too: Call your family and friends or send them a note! Play virtual games with them, stop by and leave gifts at their doorstep, stand and talk to them through their glass doors, send virtual hugs, smile and thank anyone that is out there working to make like better.
While there is uncertainty in these times, there are always things to be grateful for. Stay positive and find those small wins; give grace to others and especially yourself. You are doing your best! We all are. Life as we know it has changed, but we are all in this together.
Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime. I am here if you want to talk about working from home, talk about life, or if you need ideas to help boost morale on your team. I am here to serve you!