JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
“Teleworking has never been more important.”
This is the message of Telework.gov, the official website of the federal government’s telework program. In this time of COVID-19 and the requisite social distancing, the message rings true.
But as necessary as teleworking is, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its challenges. Here are a couple of ideas to make your time at home more productive and healthy:
- Stay Connected. Just because you are not physically with the people in your office does not mean that you are all by yourself. We are alone, together. According to the Telework Basics information page on Telework.gov, it is important to communicate your expectations. Make sure you establish ways to stay in touch with your bosses and coworkers, whether that be by phone, email, text, an office instant-messaging system, a videoconference or some other option, and then show up. Actually be present virtually, and be sure to bring your questions. Also, don’t forget to do this with friends and family, too! There are plenty of apps out there that can make you feel like you are face-to-face with your loved ones...because, well, you are!
- Be flexible. The world is in crisis. People are experiencing disruptions to their daily lives and routines. You should be willing to perform all duties assigned to you by your manager(s), even if they are outside of your normal job responsibilities. Your work is valuable and very important, especially right now.
- Maintain a routine. When everything is in flux, it’s nice to retain a sense of normalcy. According to ABC Washington, D.C., this can help maintain your mental health. Continue to get up, shower, and get dressed for work. Continue to eat breakfast. Continue to make your bed. (Or, if you didn’t do these things before, now is a great time to start these habits!) It can be helpful to establish order in the midst of chaos and these sorts of habits can keep you motivated in a time of uncertainty.
- Plan your work ahead of time. It helps to plan your day out, the night before. That way, you aren’t scrambling to get your materials prepared right before that meeting or assignment is due. This is one of the guidelines on "How To Be an Effective Teleworker" in the "Guide to Telework in the Federal Government: on Telework.gov. Take some time each day to sit and evaluate what you will need for the next day. Then strategize ways to manage your time and materials appropriately.
- Prioritize your health. We flatten the curve one person at a time, with each of us doing everything we can to take care of our bodies. According to the City of San Antonio’s Frequently Asked Questions, there are many steps you can take to keep yourself and everyone else safe from COVID-19. Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces at least once a day. Stay six feet away from every person you encounter if you must go out. Consider curbside delivery options. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, and dispose of the tissue immediately. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20seconds, or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. And if you begin to feel unwell, call your doctor first. Don’t go into a hospital or clinic without speaking to a medical professional prior.
- Manage your anxiety and stress. It is a good thing to stay informed about what’s going on, but it’s also a good thing to make sure you’re in a healthy place mentally and emotionally. All qualified individuals associated with JBSA have access to mental and behavioral healthcare, and tips on mental, physical, social, and spiritual resilience, which can be found here: https://www.jbsa.mil/coronavirus/. You may also want to try reading for pleasure. A good novel can take you outside of yourself and your world for a time. Libraries nationwide, like the National Emergency Library profiled on The New Yorker website, can give you access to free e-books that you can download on your devices.
- Give yourself grace. Sometimes, it’s best just to take a deep breath. It’s all going to be okay...one day. It’s okay if the house is a mess because the kids are stir crazy. It’s okay if you have to mute that conference call to nurse the baby. It’s okay to give yourself permission to veg out -- after work -- on that new video game or miniseries. Give yourself permission to be happy. Dame Julian of Norwich, who lived during the time of the Black Death, famously wrote -- from her sickbed, no less-- “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” She recovered her health and went on to live another 33 years. So who knows? Maybe Dame Julian was absolutely right.