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Working From Home: Tips from Our Team

Schools are closed, non-essential retail is shut down, and those of us who are lucky enough to do our jobs at home are now faced with the prospect of actually having to be productive. We thought it would be helpful to share some tips from our own WebMD Health Services team as they are coping with this new work reality. Feel free to pass it on!

Tips for working with the kids at home.

  • Julie is splitting the day with her husband. She is working from 7-12PM while her husband watches the kids. They all meet up for lunch at noon, then her husband begins work at 1PM until 6PM while Julie takes care of the kids.
  • Alissa reports that she and her husband have been comparing work schedules ahead of time to identify who can be on “kid duty” while the other gets in some uninterrupted work time.
  • Of course, single parents don’t have the luxury of splitting up time. In this case, breaking the day into several blocks might work: early morning before the kids are up, mid-afternoon during nap time or movie time, and possibly after the kids have gone to bed.

Tips for keeping to a schedule.

  • Danielle is trying to stick to her usual schedule: getting up at the same time, getting dressed, and sitting down at her desk around the same time she normally would. She’s also still prepping her lunch ahead of time and making it a point to step away from her computer while she eats.
  • Another team member is writing a few lunch choices on a chalk board. Family members put in their “order” by 9AM. He reports that this helps avoid turning into a short order cook.

Tips for designating work spaces.

  • Cody and his wife live in a small apartment where they’ve designated the dining room table for focused work and the bedroom the “conference room” for calls. He also says that noise canceling headphones have been helpful for him to stay focused while she is on calls.
  • Julie shares that she and her husband made a rule that if the door to their temporary home office is closed the kids are not allowed to enter.

Tips for physical and mental well-being.

  • As a well-being company, we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to build in time for fresh air and exercise during this unprecedented time.
    • Our team is making good use of at-home fitness streaming services. Check out our blog for ideas.
    • Those who can get out of their homes or apartments are taking short walks a couple times a day and reporting a mood boost when they get back to their desks.
    • Lori shares that if she’s on a call and doesn’t need to be at her desk, she gets up and walks around. She says it helps in two ways: keeps her focused on the call topic (vs. multi-tasking) and gets her blood flowing.
    • Louise says she is setting reminders to take breaks, which might be just a stretch or getting some fresh air.
    • For more tips straight from our health coaches, follow their Instagram Page @WebMDHealthCoach.
  • Our health coaches also suggest practicing some form of mindfulness, and it doesn’t have to be meditation. They share these tips:
    • Focus on a single task—if you’re eating, eat; if you’re reading an article, read it through to the end versus stopping mid-stream to check email.
    • Pause throughout the day and take 3-5 slow, centering breaths.
    • Take a few deep breaths before eating, employing all senses: take in the sight, smell, taste and texture of your food.

Tips for managers:

  • These are unusual circumstances for everyone, and it will take some time to adjust. Our managers are trying to be more empathetic and flexible. Here are a few other tips:
    • Have informal touch bases with members of the team and encourage them to do the same with each other.
    • Re-establish work hours and accessibility.
    • Ask team members to specify the best way to reach them for various needs (urgent vs. non-urgent).
    • Have a plan for unanticipated interruptions of work (i.e., technology issues, personal issues).
    • Establish a rhythm of communication for formal meetings and informal touch-bases.
    • Use video chat. Nicole reports that her team hated it at first but are all using it regularly now.

We are certainly grateful for our ability to do our jobs from home. Not everyone is so lucky. So, we are taking time to appreciate the small things that this new working situation offers. For example, Andrew and his wife have gained some extra free time without their usual commute to and from work. They’re using that time to get outside with the dogs and just spend quality time together.

We wish all of our clients and business partners the best of luck as you navigate these unprecedented times. If you’ve got some good tips of your own, feel free to email us at connect@webmd.net.


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