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Making Lemonade

As the pandemic continues to rage on in the United States, many of us have felt locked indoors. We’ve felt isolated. It’s been lonely. It’s scary. This is especially true for anyone who is living away from their loved ones. It can be hard to get help with things when you need it during the pandemic. It’s difficult to travel home for a number of reasons. The entire experience can be isolating, especially in a big city.

With no end date to COVID in sight, many workers are trying something out of the ordinary. They’re working from a new location. They’re going where their loved ones are. Countless people are moving to their hometowns, near their parents, or to other cities where they have connections. Even if the move is temporary, it provides the needed relief, and a reconnection to friends and family.

When I first witnessed this phenomenon, I was truly surprised. I wondered how in the world people were able to uproot themselves to work from another location. How were they able to make it happen logistically? Where did they stay? What did their company think about this extra remote work situation? What did the boss say about this request?

But, time and time again, it’s working. Many companies have become very good at remote work. Employees are working from vacation homes. They’re working from other countries. They’re working from the guest room at a family member’s home. And, they’re getting the same amount of work done that they were before.

If you’ve been wondering whether or not working from another city is right for you, I’d encourage you to explore your options. I’ve been surprised at just how understanding many employers are being towards their employees. Even some government workers have the option to apply to work from another location.

If you’re finding yourself alone and in need of a change of scenery, now is the time. Before you do anything, have a conversation with your boss. Get the verbal okay to work from another location. Then, put your intension in writing in an email to confirm. From there, you can plot out your move.

If moving all of your things is not a viable option, look for a storage unit near where you currently live. For a small amount of money, you can store your current belongings until you return. Then, look for furnished apartments in your destination city. Typical apartment rental websites and vacation websites like Airbnb are a great place to start. If you don’t see good furnished options, there are companies that rent furniture month to month.

The pandemic has been awful. But, for remote workers, this time may be an opportunity. If you’ve thought of working from another location, your time to do it may be limited. Talk to your boss. Do your research. Make your move, and make some lemonade with these pandemic lemons.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Work Life Balancing Act

Maintaining a healthy work life balance has always been important. In the past, finding balance was easier. It was obvious when you left your work world and entered your home. It was clear when you weren’t balancing your time well.

For the most part, I would argue that maintaining a healthy work life balance is as important now as it ever was. It might be more important now. Maintaining mental health is critical to making it through 2020. And, one thing that can erode it is a lack of division between work and personal.

The one exception is this. If working nonstop is providing a positive outlet, go for it! But, for the rest of us, we’ve got to find some space between the two worlds.

For most people, the pandemic is the first time we have worked from home for any length of time. Many people are working from their former dining rooms (now converted into makeshift offices). Most people are no longer changing into work attire during the day. We’re wearing hoodies and sweats to our meetings. Our children and pets are popping into Zoom meetings.

And, we’re not just taking our personal selves to work. We’re taking our work selves home. The time when work begins and ends has blurred. Our work supplies and computers are at home with us every day. We may get work calls and texts to our personal phones.

The line between what was our time and what was company time is unclear. And, it’s wearing many people down. If you find this is happening to you, look for ways to create worlds that are more separate.

For example, don’t do personal tasks during the day. Don’t respond to personal emails. Don’t make personal calls during work hours. Make work time just that – work time. Then, after a set time in the evening, switch off your work computer. Don’t respond to work email during personal time. Don’t take work calls. Separate the communications by both the hours in the day and the computer you are using.

Consider talking to your colleagues about this goal too. One of the problems in an office is that some folks will send email after work. They may be trying to make a point that they’re working, or they may not think about it. Either way, it puts social pressure on colleagues to do the same. Some folks will call into work meetings, even when they have taken a vacation day. It seems like no big deal. We’re all at home anyway, right? Wrong. This also puts unnecessary pressure on those around you to give up their personal time.

The gains from doing personal things during work hours – or doing work things during personal hours – are very small. But, the loss can be huge. Finding this balancing act will help you during the pandemic. Take it seriously and those around you will too.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

The Big Deal About Small Talk

If you’re working from home, you may be as productive as ever. You can focus without interruption. There are no long chats around the water cooler. There’s no wasted time commuting. You can wake up and get straight to work. There’s a good chance you may be skipping breaks and lunch. You’ve started to find your work from home groove.

But, one thing we’re definitely doing less of at work is small talk. When is the last time you asked about a colleague’s weekend? How are their children doing? How is the pandemic impacting them from day to day? When is the last time you had lunch with someone you work with? If you’re like millions of Americans, it’s been a while. It may have even been since early March.

On the surface, this is no big deal. You’re saving time. You’re more efficient. And, work is about work. Right? Sure, to some degree this is true. But, work is also about relationships. In fact, very often, your project may get done on time if you have a good relationship with your colleagues.

And, the thing is, relationships don’t form out of spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations alone. They are formed when we spend time together. They’re formed between meetings. They’re those small moments when we exchange pleasant words that are unrelated to work. Relationships form over sandwiches and coffee.

If you’re struggling at work more now than you were before COVID, it may be time to rethink your day to day interactions. The same social distancing that’s keeping us safe from disease is also dividing us. We’re more disconnected than we were in the past, especially when working from home is new.

What can you do? Unfortunately, there’s no perfect solution. But, there are many ideas you can try. You may want to take the time to call colleagues when you don’t need something specific. Or, take a moment in the beginning of meetings to ask how folks are doing. Consider setting up virtual social occasions. You might organize a coffee or a virtual happy hour with a colleague. You could consider organizing a book club or a virtual exercise group. Although some of these things may sound silly, they’re also a way to create connection and build your relationships.

As you’re working to create this connection, there is something to keep in mind. First, everyone is having a tough time in some way, on some days. Every person is in a unique situation, so it’s hard to predict when they’re having a tough time. When your coworker is having a difficult day, it will be harder to tell than when you are in person. Try your best to be patient.

It’s all a little weird right now. But, we may be working from home for a while. It’s time to find new and different ways to make small talk and to build big relationships.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

A Case for WFH

The letters WFH used to be mainly used by the tech industry. But, as work from home is becoming more common, so is the use of this important acronym. In the last six months, working from home has gone from an exception to a norm. But, if you’re like many employees, your company may be asking you to come back to work in person.

For many of the folks I have spoken to, returning to an in person work environment just doesn’t work right now. So, what can you do when your boss asks you to come back?

It’s tricky. Start by being honest. If you have a preexisting condition that makes you high risk for COVID complications, you may want to consider sharing it. Normally, I would never advise to share private health details with your boss. But, it may help them to understand why you need to continue to work from home.

The same applies for family situations. If you have aging parents who you help to care for, share your concerns. If you are being forced to home school your children, be up front about it. And, if your spouse has a high risk job where they work with the public, share your concerns about possibly infecting your office if you were to become infected.

These are all good reasons to keep working from home – especially if you’ve been doing it since March. Your boss’ biggest concern should be whether or not you’re getting your job done. When you approach them with this request, focus on your ability to do your work.

Outline the hours you plan to keep each day. Since your boss cannot see you, it may help to know you’re keep regular office hours from home. Set expectations around how you will communicate. If you plan to check email during certain hours, let them know. If you’ve available to video chat during meetings, share that. And, if you are available by text, say that too. The more your boss feels they can count on you, the more likely they will be to allow you to continue to work from home.

If you’re interviewing for a new job, this is something you’ll likely want to discuss at some point during the interview process. Given that this could be a point of negotiation for you, you may want to save it until you reach the offer stage of the job interview. You may be surprised though at just how many companies are willing to be flexible with work from home now. And, some companies that require you to move to their city are allowing you to delay the move until after COVID is finished.

If you believe you need to work from home for any reason, it’s your responsibility to advocate for yourself. It doesn’t mean your boss will agree. But, if you don’t ask, then you definitely won’t get it.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Back to Work

One of the hot topics around the virtual water cooler is when we’re going back to work. Some states are beginning to open up, while others continue to be locked down for what may be months. Recently, this question was posed to me. When should we all return to the office?

Before I share my thoughts, let me say this. There are many jobs where the luxury of working from home is not an option. There are so many people who are putting their lives on the line every day in order to keep us fed, to keep the mail going, and more. I’m so grateful for those essential workers and their families.

For companies that have been operating from home, you may wonder when is the right time to go back. It’s a tough question. We’re all ready for things to get back to “normal.” We’re ready forget this pandemic ever happened.

Working from home for the first time was a major transition. It was an upheaval for many businesses. We had to learn how to video conference in large groups. We had to learn to pay bills remotely. We had to learn to keep things going, while juggling children, pets, and spouses.

But, this is the thing. We did it. If your business is now fully functional remotely, you made it over the hump. You are likely in a routine now. Despite how much many people hate being at home all day, they’re adjusting.

My suggestion is this. If your business is able to successfully operate from home, continue to work from home until it’s truly safe to return to work. And, wait until the kids have gone back to school (or daycare).

Going back too soon has the potential to create two negative scenarios. In one, only half of employees are able to come back. The other half are at home, tending to young children – or avoiding infection. Imagine how your Zoom conference calls would be if half of the group were at work, while the other half was at the office. Imagine if you were never sure who was working from home and who was working remotely.

In an even worse scenario, we would all make the transition back to the office. Then, there would be a case of COVID-19 at work. It would infect someone who would pass it around the office. Then, we’d all be forced back home again.

By waiting to go back until we’re really sure it’s safe (and until other businesses, like childcare are up and running), we’ll keep the number of difficult transitions to a minimum. We’ll make sure we’re all healthy. Nobody will have to put their family in danger by going to work. No one will have to pick between their paycheck and their health.

And who knows, in the middle of this difficult time, we may learn to be better at business.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach

 

Zoom Meetings and Sweatpants

A month ago, work seemed stressful for all the normal reasons. Perhaps your boss had unrealistic expectations. You were making less than you wanted. Your coworkers were annoying.

Now, work is stressful for a new set of reasons. You’re worried about losing your job. You’re working from home for the first time. Your business model is shifting due to “The Virus.”

Who would have thought we’d all be learning to work through a pandemic? Who thought there would be a pandemic? This is the last thing I thought I would be thinking about when it comes to work. But, here we are.

For most people, the isolation of the pandemic (paired up with fear of the unknown) has been the hardest. So, what can you do to stay engaged at work when you’re isolated?

The first thing is this. Set a schedule and work to keep it. Get up at the same time every day. Start working at the same time. Stop working at the same time. And, go to bed at the same time. I know that it’s tempting to your schedule go. After all, for the first time in a long time, your boss isn’t there to breathe down your neck. But, you have to do this for you, not your boss. Keeping a normal routine will help to keep your head in check.

Take breaks throughout the day. I’ve found that with the number of Zoom meetings we’re all having, we can go almost an entire day without getting up from our chairs. Take the time to have lunch. If you can, get up at least once every hour to move around.

Try to keep tabs on whether or not your current communication style is working for your colleagues. Communication is key to success at work. With the changes we’ve had, there is no more walking down the hallway to check on people. Watercooler conversations just aren’t possible. Now, we’re sending email, instant messages, texts, and having video chats and phone calls. Not every type of communication works well for everyone. Check in with your colleagues to see what works for them.

Most importantly, take care of yourself. Whatever it is that you need to do to be sure you’re mentally and physically healthy as you can be, focus on it. Don’t allow yourself to get run down or drained more than necessary. One of the hardest parts about self-isolation is keeping your mental health in check. Don’t take it for granted. It will impact you, your spouse, your children, and other loved ones. And, it’s easy to neglect. Be sure you’re eating three meals a day. Do simple things like shower and comb your hair.

Hopefully soon, we can look back and remember that crazy time when we were all isolated. But, until then, you’ve got to get up every day, put on your sweatpants, and attend your Zoom meetings.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit CopelandCoaching.com to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland
@CopelandCoach