By: Rebecca Gish, Global Employment Brand and Talent Marketing
I don’t enjoy working from home. Maybe you think I’m crazy, or maybe you’re right there with me.
I’m comfortable managing a team remotely and driving results virtually, but I prefer working in the office. I like the feeling of dressing nicely for the day. I like the quiet time on my morning commute and uninterrupted phone calls with friends on the drive home – it’s guaranteed “me time” twice a day and, frankly, when I’m most creative. I enjoy chatting with colleagues while getting settled in the morning and packing up for the day. I like face-to-face meetings and the occasional time to enjoy lunch with colleagues. Spontaneous interactions throughout the day are stimulating for me.
At Kimberly-Clark, our leaders have been clear from the beginning of the pandemic that the health and safety of our employees, customers and consumers is the priority. What this means for me, and perhaps you too, is that we work from home for our health and the health of our families, colleagues and communities. I am truly grateful for that.
I’m frustrated every time my internet drops – you can only expect so much when you have a family of four fighting for bandwidth. I cringe every time the dog barks at a delivery person. I feel like the worst mom ever for telling my two sons for the millionth time, “I’m on a call.” And – true story – I was mortified when my 6-year-old son put on a scary Halloween mask and growled at my boss during a video conference call. Seriously, my hair is graying by the minute.
So, how to make working at home work for you? These are my top 4 tips.
1) Find a supportive company and leader. Remember when my son growled? My boss simply laughed and enjoyed the moment. He makes telling that story fun. At Kimberly-Clark, I have been reminded at least a hundred times — no exaggeration — by leaders and peers to take care of family first. I was told in my interview process that we’re a very caring culture, and it’s been awesome to see that in practice. There are so many examples of how I have been cared for and how I’ve seen the company care for our employees that it’s a whole other blog post – check back here later for that.
2) Lower. Your. Standards. This was the takeaway from a Harvard Business Review writer who spoke to our employee resource group for parents who are working from home. I love the permission of this statement, but I struggle with it. I joined Kimberly-Clark at the start of the pandemic, and lowering my standards is not how I want to develop my personal brand. And my drive to achieve? Well, it doesn’t want to hear “lower your standards,” either. But when I do listen, it allows me to see what I am achieving despite the circumstances. It’s a great way to ground yourself.
3) Take care of your physical and mental health. I tried waking up ridiculously early to work quietly before the family awoke. It fed my need to achieve, but it was a disaster. The lack of sleep and the constriction from hunching over a tiny desk wrecked havoc on my body and crushed my spirit. My wakeup call was the realization that my body hurt so badly I had to see a chiropractor.
4) Set up an ergonomic workstation and practice self care. I took advantage of a stipend provided by Kimberly-Clark to invest in a comfortable desk setup. Game changer. I now have a sit-to-stand desk, a monitor to match my height and a supportive chair. I also took to heart a podcast about shifting my perception of self care from selfish and indulgent to foundational and enabling. I committed my early mornings to taking care of myself. I still get up early, but instead of immediately working, I drink plenty of water, do a YouTube yoga session and eat a healthy breakfast. I go to bed shortly after the kids so I get enough rest. The practice of self care has made an enormous difference in my physical and emotional wellbeing. I’m more capable of achieving while managing daily stress. And, I still do a bit of work before my family awakes, so I start each workday with a strong sense of accomplishment.
Consider how these tactics can help you be more successful today and in the future. If you place yourself in a supportive environment, ground yourself in the reality of what you are achieving, and take care of yourself every day as a foundational and enabling practice, you will be more successful working from home. I’ll also bet you’ll see tremendous positive impact on your career over the long term.