Rare and unusual times have presented themselves as a result of the onset of Coronavirus COVID-19. As an office, we learned just how many Assistants across the nation and world have become impacted. While we anticipated learning of non-essential business closures leading to working from home, we did not anticipate the high number of Assistants around the world struggling with the uncertainties, isolation and communication barriers brought on by the circumstances.
Last week, we hosted an Understanding VUCA for Assistants webinar in which we shared adaptation traits to help our viewers navigate through constant change. During that webinar, we asked 800+ attendees around the world what their working situation was like as a result of COVID-19. The poll asked Assistants to select the option that described them: “Working from Home” or “Still Working from the Office.” The results showed that 80% of our webinar attendees are working from home (WFH).
Furthermore, during the Q&A at the end of our webinar, many assistants shared that the shift is more demanding than working from the office. School closures have added the element of caring for children while addressing workplace demands.
With homes now serving as a centralized location to work, eat, and sleep, many Assistants are struggling with the lack of human interaction, and being around family 24/7. Even most Virtual Assistants are feeling the demands brought on by COVID-19.
For these reasons, I wanted to share some tips that have pulled me through times of turbulence. All of them can be applied to working from home and provide agility for these chaotic times.
Things Not to Do:
- Watch the news feed all day. While it may feel necessary in order to keep up with developments. Studies have shown that it leads to depression, anxiety, and paranoia.
- Overreact. When you hear or read bad news globally or within your own family, take a moment to process it so that you can react calmly. Not only will you benefit from this method, but others around you will as well. Be the positive domino effect in the room.
- Stay up too late or stay in bed too long during the week. You still need good rest. Sleep deprivation combined with anxiety can impact your awareness and job performance in an already overwhelming time.
- Do not take your anger or frustration out on others. Remember the domino effect mentioned in the last two bullet points. Practice decorum to keep the peace.
- Use this time to visit friends, online shop or complete errands around the house during work hours. Your employer has made your health and comfort priority and trusted you with your workload. Be considerate and keep with routines to maximize productivity as you normally would.
What to Do:
- Read and listen to words of inspiration. Have you ever heard the saying “You are what you read”? Positivity can be an inspirational and uplifting trait for you and those around you.
- Save money for that much-needed vacation post-COVID-19. Since you are not eating out, getting your Starbucks, going to concerts or events, put aside any money you can. Once this is all over and we get back to living our lives, many of us will want to enjoy a lovely vacation.
- Keep as much of your workweek routine as possible. One executive assistant suggested wearing your name badge during the day. I thought this was a great idea as it also sends a message to others in the house that “you are at work.”
- To stay connected to your administrative peers and continue your education, host a book club. Everyone can read a chapter or section of a chapter before you meet online. Maybe attendees can take turns being the leader for the session.
Talk about how you can apply the information you read to your current situations. You can find several industry-specific books on our website. I would like to suggest a great book for females that I wrote called Give Yourself Permission to Live a BIG Life.
- Update your professional portfolio. Take time to spruce up your resume and Linkedin profile with recent job titles, courses, and certifications that give you a competitive edge. This benefits you for two reasons: 1) You’ll be ready to present this information at your next performance review. 2) Should your employment status change as a result of current events, you’ll be ready to dominate the employment market.
- Assistants rarely take lunch breaks. Take advantage of your lunch break when working from home. This would be a good time to destress or spend time with your family, walk the dog or video chat with friends and family.
- Connect with people using Zoom, Facetime, Skype or any of the other wonderful tools we have. We are uplifted when we see each other’s faces and hear each other’s voices. If communication has been an issue, suggest weekly 30-minute department meetings so everyone can share their challenges and best practices.
- Keep very good notes on all the work that has been put on the back burner due to COVID-19. What was once a priority project may now be a back-burner project. Create a running list or add items to your calendar to revisit at a later time. When those projects pick back up, you’ll be organized and ready to go.
- Take a little time to set up your workspace so it is functional, comfortable, and supplied. Hopefully, you can set it up in an area where you aren’t interrupted. Pinterest has a ton of ideas you can gather inspiration from.
- Step away from your computer at least every hour and take a short break.
- This is a good time for self and career development courses. Office Dynamics has a variety of online learning courses for Administrative Professionals.
I would love to hear some of your ideas.