Managing ‘self’ in COVID times!

The world as we have known has changed manifolds. These unprecedented times have disrupted industries across the board. For the corporates globally, supply chains, productions, last-mile delivery, overstretched employees, economic instability amongst other business functioning elements have been tested. Businesses around the world have realized that most of the ‘risk mitigations plans’ that were consuming disk space are ineffective on many accounts. The reason why these plans have failed as this pandemic is far more global in its reach than it was initially anticipated. The rapid pace of disruption and continuously changing situations demanded a new way of thinking to mitigate emerging risks. 

While the pandemic has stressed balance sheets – both topline and bottom-line – it has also impacted one of the most important resources for any organization – its human capital. The new normal of working from home has played out differently for all individuals. What has been critical for our organization is to keep employees connected, reassured and motivated at all times. And, all of this we have achieved virtually with initiatives such as ‘Work by Design’, [email protected] engagement programs amongst others. To this end, at Amway India, we have taken significant measures for work management and constant learning while ensuring optimum engagement and flow of information. For instance, within my team, I have also been conducting virtual sessions to motivate and drive innovation to deliver best practices/initiatives in the shortest span of time. One of the milestones for the team was the capability to have developed a product – Persona Hand Sanitizer, for these testing times within 30 Days to meet the demand for hygiene products. 

While occasional ‘working for home’ has been a norm for the past few years in many companies in India and around the globe, the continued ‘work from home’ currently, is not the same. Since, at present, all of us are trying to find a balance between professional and personal work, proper routine structuring is the need of the hour. Here is a 10-step guide that would help you manage yourself much better in these ‘continued’ work from home times:

  1. Daily self-care: Invest in a 30-minute self-care schedule by indulging in activities such as yoga, meditation or any form of physical activity every day. It helps in improving both physical and mental health. A regular schedule also has a direct impact on productivity. There are plenty of on-line sessions available that can help you build a daily routine. 
  2. Ergonomic workspace at home: Regular work from home requires a proper infrastructure at home. Dining tables, sofa sets, reclining chairs, bean bags, etc. are meant for occasional work. One must have a designated space to work on as a first requirement. You can take some calls from your comfortable furniture for some time in the day but that cannot be a day-long practice. With most of us having longer than usual work hours, ergonomically designed furniture is a ‘must-have’ accessory in the current times. Gauging this as an immediate opportunity, many leading furniture companies have come up with ‘work from home’ ergonomically designed furniture range as incorrect posture during work could impact your health. 
  3. Standing desk: In addition to an ergonomically designed workstation at home, another essential accessory that can be considered is a ‘standing desk’. Some new studies suggest that at least 30 minutes of standing every hour is highly beneficial. Please note that the ‘standup discipline’ is a must on an hourly basis but it shouldn’t be clubbed and replaced with prolonged standing each day. The latter is known to do more harm than good.
  4. Structure your day: It is advisable to have a structure for most of the days, even if you are unable to follow it completely. It should be similar to our work schedule, which would include having ‘tea or coffee breaks’, proper lunch breaks and so on. Nearly all office setups have a cafeteria for lunch services that were utilized in the pre-COVID19 times. Since you never carried your laptops to the office cafeterias, there is no need to munch your meals with laptops beside you when working from home!
  5. Comfort clothing: While it is important to get ready for work every morning, please feel free to utilize the opportunity of being in comfortable clothes as you work from home. No better time dress as per your comfort unless you need to dress up for some special meetings. If you are managing teams, it is unfair to judge the seriousness and engagement levels of your team from what they are wearing!
  6. Small and efficient meeting timings: When your coworkers tend to keep busy and have limited time to spare, it’s easy to assume that the best team meeting is one that covers all objectives as quickly as possible. Hence, it is advisable to set up and encourage your teams to set up meetings no longer than 30 minutes to be efficient. However, the agenda for certain meetings do require longer engagement. Shorter meeting schedules do not forcibly make you stretch your timelines at very regular intervals.
  7. Importance of scheduling ‘no meeting’: Back to back meetings filled calendar every day is an early warning sign of poor time management. Please ensure that you have some time available each day in which no meeting is scheduled. These need not be fixed but ‘no meeting’ time should surely reflect in your calendar. You can plan based on the criticality of these meetings.
  8. Accommodate noises in the work calls: As they say, your dog will bark when you are unmuted, the neighbor will drill a hole when it’s your turn to speak and someone’s baby would cry at unwarranted times. It is recommended to treat these ‘noises’ as ‘sounds’ and do not make the participants uncomfortable on the other side. 
  9. Distinguish between ‘genuine deadlines’ and ‘avoidable deadlines’: We all should attempt to prioritize work and the deadlines attached to the individual tasks. This is extremely important in the Indian context wherein most of us had some external support in the pre-COVID19 times. With no such support for a few more months, please be more accommodating of deadlines. It is advisable to not pressurize your teams on meeting timelines as everyone is balancing between work and home responsibilities. Hence, clear demarcation should be done for work with ‘genuine deadlines’ for timely deliveries.
  10. Take time off: Do not forget to unwind. Take days off on an occasional basis. Unwind by spending quality time with your family, invest in your health and keep learning. Just because you have been working from home and you are unable to go out, unwinding does not mean that breaks are not required. 

Today, self-care and holistic wellbeing have become the new social essentials. Hope you find some of these tips helpful to manage yourself better in these unprecedented times. 

As a caution, the views expressed above are not based on any scientific research but purely on the personal experience of the author.

Previous articleIs Your Team Psychologically Safe?
Next articleCOVID-19: The Start of a New Era of Supply Chain Strategies
Rahul Gupta
Vice President – Procurement and Planning, Amway India | Rahul holds over 23 years of total work experience across various supply chain verticals – manufacturing, planning, procurement and contract manufacturing. He has been associated with Amway for the past 13 years. Throughout his tenure at Amway, he has been known for successful employment of best business practices that improve efficiency, enhance compliance, reduce costs whilst increasing performance. His other skills include strong interpersonal skills, training and analytics. In his previous role he has worked with GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare for 10 years. In his personal time, Rahul loves to travel, read and network with people.