Sunday, November 1
       

Finding Virtual Work Life Balance During COVID-19

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By Kathy Zhang, Miss Asia World Princess 2019-2021

Asia World Media Contributor

 

Two months ago, I was still traveling every week for work to meet with my team and meet with customers in person. I could feel the anxiety build up between travelers as we went to the airport and saw more and more people wear masks and sit further away between seats. At that point the virus still felt distant to the US, but I gravely started following the damage it was causing on the other side of the world. As COVID-19 became more imminent, I have had to adapt to a fully remote work model and be intentional in showing and giving gratitude while there is uncertainty of when normalcy will return.

As a Tech Consultant, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work from home. Being in a customer-facing services role, the workload has increased due to an uptick in support cases. According to a Gartner report, corporations were unprepared for the work from home spike as “large corporations with 10,000 people or more can accommodate only 10% of their employees to work from home.” Part of my role is to help to provide technology implementation and proactive support, these days there is a focus on helping other companies and organizations embrace remote work, when possible, to create safer and healthier environments for everyone.

My role on my current project involves managing a team that works towards migrating on-premises applications to the cloud, allowing the customer to better manage workloads and close down physical data centers. I found while working remotely, I was working longer hours which quickly took a toll on me. According to a study done by NordVPN Teams, this is a consistent remote working trend with most people in the US working almost 40% more, from around 8 hours to 11 hours on average. This can feel tiring as even free time is not truly spent relaxing. Jeff Weiner, CEO at LinkedIn, writes, ‘”Free” time in between video calls is increasingly being absorbed by taking care of kids, caring for dependents, doing household chores, and myriad other ways in which people are jumping from one task to the next.’

Additionally, I have had to learn how to manage a global virtual team. Many of my team members I have never met in person and span across the US as well as in India. I have had to learn people’s communication styles of how they communicate and how they would prefer to be communicated with, using the variety of internal collaboration tools. To cut across the monotony of the day, I have hosted internal virtual happy hours to get to know each other outside of work and encourage people to share how they are coping with COVID-19. Working with a global team also means being cognizant of time zones when scheduling meetings and being respectful when someone declines a meeting for a personal or work conflict. Finally, it is important to be compassionate when someone cannot get their work done. It is an extremely difficult time and you never know what someone is going through and how they are impacted by COVID-19.

After some trial and error of figuring out how to work from home efficiently and be at home all the time, here are tips:

  1. Settle into a healthy routine. It is easy to lose sight of time and stay in front of a computer all day. However, this sets a precedent of being always available and not having that boundary between work and life. Remember to be cognizant of your work schedule and work environment set up.
  2. Create meaning in your work. Working remotely can feel isolating and disconnecting from others which causes a loss of motivation. It’s important to zoom out and think of the larger impact you can make as a result of your work and why got into the field in the first place. Personally, I remind myself of my passion for technology, my projects which have involved configuring company security policies allow organizations to support work from home and support other women in STEM careers.
  3. Take time for yourself. Remember to intentionally disconnect and block time for yourself. This can be in the form of doing a hobby, taking the time to exercise, or connecting with family and friends. Having a healthy state of mind is healthy for you and those around you.
  4. Use intentional gratitude. Be consciously aware of what you are thankful for whether it be knowing front line workers are working hard to keep the public safe, staying employed, or having good health.

It is difficult to find work life balance and to stay positive with the virus impacting lives and the toll it takes to stay home and hear about the virus every day. In a time where every day feels the same, it is important to be intentionally grateful. I am thankful for health care workers on the front line risking their lives for public safety. I stay in and self-quarantine as much as I can to respect all their hard work and I am working to give back where I can. I truly have so much to be grateful for from having a job that I am able to work remotely to having family and friends I can keep connected with through technology. It is wonderful to see the world come together in acts of kindness for a common cause of fighting the virus and figuring out ways to adapt meanwhile. Let us flatten the curve together!

 

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