By: AKF, Global Vice President, Human Resources | 10/13/2020 |

After six months of a COVID-forced work from home (WFH), we’re starting to get an idea of what we’re good at and what needs work; both as individual employees and as an organization.    

You can find millions of articles, blogs, Ted Talks, etc. to consume on how to be better at this WFH thing. Everyone has ideas on better technology, better meetings, and better interactions. Not to be outdone by all the blogging and bettering, I recently read a LinkedIn article where Chris Herd (Founder, CEO of FirstbaseHQ) said: “Remote work isn’t a new way of working. Remote work is a new way of living”, and I wondered…in trying to find the answer in the tools and technologies of how to work better, did we forget to look at the rest of it?

As a remote worker, I know I need a comfortable (not too comfortable! Zzzzz…) space to work, away from as many distractions and interruptions as possible, proper equipment and technology, and to be able to get into a work-mode mindset sitting in my home. But is that it? Is that my checklist for #goodathomeworker?  

Chris Herd’s comment forced me to think beyond the mechanics of how I was working, and towards how I was living around my work. Before it was very normal to hear leave your personal life at the door and work time is for work. It was horrifying if on the rare occasion I happened to be at home working and the dogs barked on a call. Now, my little 15- pound nuggets snoring like a 200-pound walrus is funny and adds a little levity to serious calls about serious things. Why did it change? My point here isn’t that it’s now okay for my work environment to be a casual free-for-all. 

What I am saying is there is no more leaving my personal life at the door.  I live here, I work here, and life happens.  

We will continue to look for creative ways to be better at-home workers. But let’s spend at least an equal amount of time thinking about how living better while working is actually going to mean working better where I live. Maybe that means not letting myself stress out about a dog barking or a doorbell ringing. Maybe that means I take a minute after a stressful meeting or call and walk around my backyard to shake it off. If my weekend was filled to the brim with family needs and now I have 1,000 pounds of laundry calling my name should I take 5 minutes and throw a load in? Will I feel less anxious about everything else I have to do that day? Will it help me focus better on my work?  

Living better while working will mean something different to everyone and there is no wrong answer. But as comfortable as slippers are, working and living in the same space is stressful and no one wants to be stressed when dealing with other peoples’ needs (like we do in customer service). To truly be successful at how we Work-it, we need to embrace how we Life-it.