Living in a new working world has been so difficult to adjust to that it interferes with our focus on work. We’ve got a few solutions for you. Read further on how to stay productive.
The return to work is not without its hurdles. Despite promises of a brighter future with functioning vaccines in the works, it’s clear that our growing and ultra-dense society must learn to adjust to the ever-present danger of highly infectious diseases. The workplace and its commute are the most important battlegrounds in the fight against COVID-19. We can’t survive without a working economy, yet need to embrace new policies to adhere strictly to evolving public health rules, and adapt to nature.
However, we aren’t machines. We are people, and people get sick, and people get worried about getting sick. It’s difficult to remain positive during these times, let alone productive, even with an economy that continues to slowly climb out of a deep recession.
While some of that worry might not go away anytime soon, we can work on reassuring ourselves and shifting towards more optimism by investing in workplace strategies that keep us and our coworkers safe, minimizing unnecessary transit and contact, and homing in on our passions.
Get a Grasp on the Rules
Uncertainty continues to be at the root of many of our fears, so reducing uncertainty through clear and effective messaging, simple rules, and widespread access to information possible should be a top priority for any business seeking productivity gains.
For most workers, this means getting a clear checklist of changes and guidelines from HR currently in place during the pandemic to eliminate potential infections at work, and reviewing what both OSHA and the CDC have to say about workplace necessities for combatting COVID.
The only way to fight uncertainty is to be a little more certain. And by listening to authorities and experts, and putting into play data-driven disease control, you can begin to feel a little more in-control, and get a clearer picture around how you can help fight the virus and avoid getting sick. This usually means:
- Wearing a mask and other levels of personal protective gear when appropriate.
- Frequent and increased sanitization.
- Lower elevator capacity.
- Stair etiquette.
- Private offices and strict social and professional distancing.
- Access to fresh air and natural ventilation (whenever appropriate, given the incoming winter).
- Other forms of tracking and controlling indoor ventilation and air quality.
By knowing what can and can’t be done to slow the virus’ spread, knowing the effort your coworkers and employers go through to keep everyone safe, and putting these guidelines to work yourself, you can help ease some of these COVID-related fears and feel more confident in your own capacity to work.
Consider Alternatives to the Office
Not everyone has access to a private vehicle or a sensible bike or footpath to the office. In cities and states where you’d rather avoid public transportation due to a recent surge in cases, or simply don’t feel safe commuting, as well as in cases where the office is (relatively) full as is, it’s important to consider useful alternatives.
Many companies are continuing to give certain employees the option to work from home, but many others are embracing work-from-anywhere policies, which includes leveraging coworking spaces to provide an alternative working environment for employees to flock to when the main office is out of reach, or already manned by enough people.
Coworking spaces have grown to adapt to the virus by providing isolated and safe private offices, roving cleaning crews, and mandated professional distancing rules, giving companies an option for employees to return to a productive working environment without breaking social distancing rules and endangering workers through an open or limited workspace, or asking them to continue working from home at a limited capacity.
A New Digital Embrace
As we continue to explore safe options in the return to physical workspaces, online tools will remain vital, not only for enabling collaboration and communication between remote workers and the main office, but for enabling cooperation between different satellite or coworking offices as well.
There will be a continued interest in de-densifying the office to minimize or eliminate lengthy commutes and stop the spread of the virus, so ensuring that individual teams can stay in contact with one another at all times and seamlessly cooperate is important.
Even within the same office space, professional distancing means you still can’t just pop over to a coworker’s station or office and begin a head-to-head discussion. We will continue to send documents over the cloud rather than passing flash drives, we will continue to communicate largely over instant messaging.
The benefits of being in an office, even if spaced apart, are immediately obvious – it’s a much more productive environment, and you can continue to collaborate and give each other a shout over a distance. But virtual tools will remain important indefinitely, especially as they continue to improve in usefulness and scope.
Outside of virtual solutions, it may be a good idea to invest in tools and activities to help you feel more at ease in a COVID world.
For example: buzzing bracelets that go off when you’re too close to a coworker, ergonomic hands-free options for opening and closing doors and using keypads, hosting daily or weekly meetings out under the open sky and in fresh air, doing creative or physical exercises together with coworkers around the country to improve mood and productivity, and more.
Find Your Support System
Our productivity doesn’t measure our worth, but it can be a measure of our overall wellbeing and satisfaction. The more stressed we are, the worse we tend to perform, especially when the pressure is overwhelming and not the kind that produces effective results or facilitates growth.
We can do a lot to care for ourselves in our own time, but a significant factor in our wellbeing is our access to healthy social interactions, and support among family and friends. Take the time to be with your loved ones, organize virtual or safe outdoor activities with friends, read a book or two, join professional networks to discuss your worries and celebrate your successes, and prioritize your mental wellbeing.
If this crisis has taught us anything, it’s that we need one another, and that stress and social isolation can do a real number on both our health and productivity.