WFH Tips & Tricks | Back to Normal: Preparing to Return to the Office
In the current COVID-19 world of Work From Home (WFH), Remotely Working offers tips and tricks to make WFH easier. If you have an issue you would like discussed or a favorite trick you’d like to share, let us know and we may feature it in an upcoming column. You can submit an article here.
The email came about mid-March. The administration was requiring everyone to be on campus 75% of the time beginning April 1. I knew this announcement was coming since I attend the Zoom meetings where these topics are discussed, but I can still say I was not thrilled when the official email finally arrived. Personally, I enjoyed being able to drop off and pick up my three-year-old from the new school that he started in March while still meeting my daily work obligations. I was also able to get up later without having to put on makeup and wear a nice top (if I had Zoom meetings scheduled) and jeans instead of dress pants. There was more time for exercise, the ability to put a slow cooker meal on without having it sit on warm for a few hours until we came home in the evening, and my very favorite thing from childhood when I was home sick, putting "The Price is Right" on the tv as background noise while I worked.
With the notice to return to campus 75%, what would I wear? How early would I have to get up to get myself ready for the office, my son and me fed, and have enough time for my husband to get ready for the office? This would take a lot of planning and organization that I had enjoyed not having to do. Would I really find time to exercise now that I would be losing an hour a day from the commute? The pickup and drop off for my three-year-old now needed to be planned out because his previous school kept him from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. without extra care costs. Could we afford those extra costs and did we even want him to spend that much time at school? Would we need help from family? It is funny how all of these things we did prior to March 2020 without a thought have become a struggle now. I think I came to really like my new normal and did not want it to change.
Now that I am back into this new/old normal for about three weeks, there are some things I did not realize that I had missed while working from home. I do not have to keep a detailed log of my work product for the hours I was at home. I do still work an hour- and -a -half at home every day (we chose not to use before or after care for our son) and will have to keep tracking those hours. I have the ability now to plan out exactly what I need to work on for that 90 minutes and bring it home with me to finish. I notate those hours in the morning when I come back in and do not worry about it at home anymore.
I thought I never would, but I realized that I missed meetings in person. The past two weeks have been filled with interviews and lunches for a new Associate Dean position. I listened to the presentations in person while socially distancing and had lunch with my colleagues and the candidates together instead of staring at each other over Zoom. We had some great chats at these lunches. With Zoom, we would not have lingered and caught up with each other and would have just moved onto the next thing. For me, it also seems to be a struggle to plan a grant application via Zoom. I missed the days of getting in a conference room and bouncing ideas off of each other. That just is not the same via Zoom.
There are also some things that came about because of the pandemic that I am not giving up, one of which is the use of Teams. As the coordinator of grants, I have found that using a platform like Teams makes it so much easier to coordinate and write a grant when the team can work on the documents simultaneously. I created a channel for each grant application and if funded, will continue to use the channel for meetings, document sharing, and other needs that arise. It does not take away from meeting in person and the progress you make in those meetings, but it does make the process easier and more efficient.
I am able to exercise, and we still get to spend quality time with our son before and after work every day. Our son also gets to spend more time with his Paw Paw as he brings him to school in the mornings. I do not have to get up much earlier than I was before and I have found a way to get ready for the office and out the door on time most days. I am definitely more active and eating better. I think the tiredness I was feeling will start to go away because, for the most part, I am no longer working and living in the same place. Through all of this, I feel blessed to maintain employment when so many did not. I may have been brought back into the office not on my own terms but overall, it’s good to be back. My cat is grateful to our administration for getting us back on campus. The house is all hers again.
Authored by Carly Pigg, CRA, Coordinator of Grants and Development
LSU Health New Orleans School of Nursing