One Year In: How to Stay Motivated During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The world has been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic for over a year now. In early March 2020, employees at organizations nationwide were urged to work from home for two weeks. Twelve months later, the world is anything but normal.
How are you staying productive at work and home? Does managing remote learning, working, and living – all in the same space – create more stress for you and your loved ones? Is it challenging to remain optimistic amid the varied and always-changing state guidelines, mandates, and restrictions?
At Armstrong, we value our employee’s mental and physical health. During the past year, we’ve uncovered a few tips to help find balance in a still-uncertain world. Be sure to leave a comment at the end of this post if you have additional ideas to share!
Reimagine Your Workspace
- Create a dedicated space. While it’s easier said than done in some living arrangements, having a dedicated space supports productivity. It’s not always possible, but getting away from the kids, the dog, and the e-learning can help get you in a more efficient work zone.
It could be as easy as finding a room with a door might also require some creativity and ingenuity in smaller quarters. CNN covered some of the most unique home office spaces in this article. Our favorite is the SUV desk with an option for fresh air. Although, getting in and out doesn’t look like a breeze.
- Mix it up. To entirely contradict myself – if you get tired of your dedicated space, change it up! Sit in the kitchen or on the patio. Heck, unless you’re already working from your car – sit in your car! Anything to create a change of pace to help keep yourself motivated and engaged.
- Get a change of scenery. Unless you’re relishing this quieter life – and many people are – those four walls may seem like they’re caving in. Change the venue! You may not want to hop on a place and travel just yet but take the proper precautions and see if you can change the view from your desk. Perhaps you can borrow a friend’s home or rent a house or condo using a service like VRBO. Hotels.com has excellent deals as well. Even if you must work, it may be nice to look at the mountains, the beach, or even a different street for a few days.
Working in a Hybrid World
- Make a slow transition back to the office. If your office is open and you can go in, consider doing so a couple of days a week. Keeping healthy and safety a top priority, it can feel like a welcome vacation to sit in a new environment that is well-designed for work and productivity. Seeing and connecting with people who aren’t immediate family can be reinvigorating.
- Consider alternative workspaces. The pandemic hit office leasing companies hard. Office-sharing companies like WeWork, who sign long-term leases on space while charging customers monthly fees, lost significant valuation as workers stayed home. But all hope is not lost. Hybrid or flex models seem to be gaining popularity again as remote workers diversify their office space options. For the time being, they seem to be safer than indoor coffee shops.
Productivity at Work (You Mean, Home)
- Take short breaks. According to this Forbes article, chaining yourself to a desk or scarfing down your lunch while sitting in your workspace isn’t a recipe for success – it’s a recipe for disaster. Taking breaks has been linked to lower stress and increased job satisfaction. In a work-from-home environment, the opportunities to take fulfilling breaks are virtually endless. Whether you prefer to do 30 push-ups, brush your child’s hair, or take a shower, employees gain focus and increase productivity by stepping away from their desks.
A recent study by Lenovo showed that just 29 minutes spent outdoors results in a 45% increase in productivity. Moreover, 63% of surveyed employees say they feel much better “in themselves” after getting some fresh air. Time to get outdoors!
- Limit virtual meetings. March madness had a whole new meaning in 2020 with a massive jump in virtual meetings. Initially, the influx of uncertainty and change demanded that organizations increase communications – even over-connect. That was at the expense of having time to get things done. Try to set a day each week where no meetings are scheduled. Your employees will love that meeting-free day to pump out some actual work.
- Set small daily goals and write them down. Humans feel a sense of accomplishment after completing tasks because of serotonin, a chemical that our brain produces. Serotonin can create strong, positive emotions and is often linked to pride, loyalty, and status. Start each day by setting a few smaller, highly achievable goals and reap the reward of crossing items off your list.
- Strike a balance. Business days don’t need to be all work and no play. Sprinkle in virtual gatherings, socially-distanced happy hours, or online game nights to stay connected with friends, colleagues, and family members. If this pandemic showed us anything, its loneliness could harm our overall health.
- All the feels. Loneliness, uncertainty, and isolation tend to exacerbate anxiety and depression. It is OK to be angry, scared, or distraught, especially during times of uncertainty. Those are normal human emotions. Recognizing these feelings is healthy, and there are lots of ways to deal with them.
- Avoid the news. Now that we have a general understanding of how the pandemic affects our world try to avoid prolonged exposure to the news. Unfortunately, that’s the fastest way to feel like the world is descending into disaster and chaos.
- Practice simple forms of meditation. Just laying or sitting in a comfortable spot, breathing normally, and focusing your attention on your breath for two minutes can help you get started on clearing some of the clutter in your mind.
- Seek professional support. There is no shame in seeking counseling as you try to navigate life’s challenges. If you’re not comfortable seeking in-person help, consider accessing an online counseling platform like BetterHelp that gives you access to fully-licensed therapists in a completely virtual environment.
Whether you’re thoroughly enjoying working from home or feel it’s entirely overrated, we can all benefit from a boost to our productivity. Brain scans reveal a propensity for the human brain to operate on “autopilot” mode, enabling you to do specific tasks almost effortlessly. It’s no wonder then that building in breaks, seeking new surroundings, and striking balance take preparation and effort.
At Armstrong, we place a lot of emphasis and value on work-life balance. Sure, some weeks are more hectic than others but recognizing that employees feel better and perform best when their physical, emotional, and mental needs are met is central to our culture. If you’re looking to shake things up in 2021, connect with our team and see why Armstrong could be the breath of fresh air you need.
About Lauren Russell
Lauren Russell serves as Armstrong’s Chief Marketing Officer. Originally joining the team in 2012 to focus on human resources and recruiting, Lauren recently transitioned to marketing, social media, agent relations, and event planning. She has over 20 years of experience in logistics and transportation.