Balancing Connectedness in the Era of COVID

In March 2020, as organizations around the world shifted to working from home, significant emphasis was placed on connectedness. Without face to face, in-person interactions, how were employees going to stay connected? How would businesses engage with their customers? Video technologies, while available, were not pervasively utilized in organizations. Suddenly, numerous platforms played a central role in enabling users to see each other and served as connection points in place of meeting face to face. Fast forward 4 months, and people are now suffering from “Zoom fatigue” as video technology is firmly entrenched in our work and social lives.

We have seen that in the era of COVID-19, and given the increased use of technology platforms, while it is important to connect, it is equally important to disconnect. Whether you are a veteran WFH employee or still relatively new to remote work, here are some things to consider as you disconnect on a daily basis, or for an extended period of time.

Continue to create WFH boundaries. Without the routine of going to a physical workplace, for many the days seem to blur into each other. Creating – and enforcing – boundaries between work and home is key, especially if you’re not used to working at home. Just because you are not commuting to work, it does not mean that time should now be devoted to earlier starts at the desk and lingering at the keyboard later. Of course, we all have days when we need to extend beyond our company’s customary work hours, especially with many juggling work, childcare and perhaps caring for other family members. Stand up for those daily workday boundaries so others don’t encroach on time earmarked for your well-being.

Choose the right medium for the situation. Platforms like Zoom, Webex, and Teams are great tools so everyone can see each other and collaborate and enable all participants to literally be on the same page during calls. However, it is good to mix it up, so you are not getting burned out from so much face time. Depending on what you do for work, think about whether or not you need to use video for every call or meeting you are on. Using the old-fashioned phone or one of the platforms with video turned off can be good options for those times when face time is not imperative and can help relieve some of the stress of always being on.

Use your vacation time. Sure, you may not be going to Italy this year like you had planned, but it is imperative to take time away from work to rejuvenate your mind and body. Use your PTO to explore your own town or city, enjoy activities that you normally may not get to do during the work week, and just unplug. While it is tempting to check-in daily from your time off because you are not off the grid on in an exotic location, keep in mind that you have earned this time and it is more important than ever to recharge.

While WFH suits many, it can be a fine balancing act, and is not everyone’s desired work mode. The work environment is not likely to return to what it was pre-COVID, and it is important to take a moment and consider how you are connecting with others, and also unplugging from your work.

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