These are unprecedented times that we are living and working in. Being mandated to work from home is so much more than simply bringing your laptop home and occasionally checking emails. It’s being available to children and pets, it’s seeing home projects that are waiting to be done. During these times of uncertainty, it’s hard to focus on our work, while simultaneously focusing on our family and personal lives. I’ve seen this phrase posted around and there is so much truth to it: “You are not working from home; you are at home during a crisis trying to work.”
While you are at home trying to work, there are two character traits that will make it a little more bearable: being adaptable, and being available.
Being adaptable during the COVID-19 pandemic is crucial. While it’s beneficial to try and stick to a schedule, a lot of times it’s just not feasible. A primary part of my job was going to events and engaging with the public and senior DoD leaders. Social distancing has completely halted that part of what I was taught to do, what I was hired to do. It’s all I know. Now that we are working from home full-time, my job description entails more virtual meetings, events and written engagements. It’s different. It’s definitely not what I was trained to do, or even hired to do, but during these times we need to learn to be adaptable. Many speaking engagements, trainings and seminars have been cancelled, how can we still fulfill our duties from a virtual perspective? How can we adapt and restructure our messaging?
During a time of jarring communication, being available to your coworkers is important. What I’ve experienced the past four weeks of working from home is a lot of group texting. During this time we don’t have the luxury of walking to a coworkers desk to ask them a question. We only have technology to rely on now, so being available, no matter where you are is important. Make no mistake that being available does not mean, 24/7. More so now than ever, we need to focus on our mental health and truly disconnect from our workday’s when that time hits. However, if someone sends you an email – during working hours – it would behoove you to respond in a timely manner. If we are ever to continue working as normally as we would in our offices, we need to communicate constantly with coworkers and be available.
As federal employees, as American citizens, and as humans we need to work together in order to get through this together. For those of us who are lucky enough to be working from home during this time, we need to focus on being adaptable in all situations, work-related or not. We also need to be available. Adjusting our communication style to being more direct and more tech-savvy will work wonders for our teams. Be well, be healthy and take care of yourself and your family.
Alura Romero is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is a recent University of Florida undergrad who’s currently studying towards a Master’s Degree in Communication at West Virginia University. She works in the Public Affairs Office at the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) in Washington, D.C. where she leads outreach events for ship commissionings and Navy Weeks. In the past she’s interned for PR companies in the private sector in both Florida and Virginia. Before starting her government career she was an Ombudsman for Naval Air Station Oceana where she represented the command and the spouses at the command. She lives with her husband, cat and two dogs in Alexandria, VA.