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Stock Plans from Home: Surviving to Thriving

June 26, 2020

We recently polled our members to learn about which COVID-19 themed topics are of most interest right now. Clearly there is much to contemplate, and the list of associated topics is long. Hot topics included things you might expect - like domestic mobility and award modifications – and we will address these knowledge areas in the coming weeks.

Perhaps most interestingly, the number one response in our poll (= the hottest topic) is the topic of working from home. I’ve heard repeatedly that the struggle is real, and it seems that the migration to a home-based workforce has adaptations still in progress.

Many of you were thrust into a work-from-home environment overnight. Our members have willingly shared their personal stories of this abrupt change and how it impacted them – like the one who was on vacation out of the country when stay-at-home orders were implemented and returned home to find she couldn’t get into her workplace to access needed materials.

I’ve heard about the challenges of effective internal cross-communications when colleagues need different schedules in order to juggle family needs.  There are also the web meetings that now include video – and the scenario where family or household members inadvertently (or sometimes intentionally) crash the meeting. It seems that everyone has been in a state of figuring out how to survive the new workplace norm.

With much still to be determined about the long-term impacts of the pandemic, a few things do seem clear. For many, working from home (at least in some form) will continue indefinitely. If that reality rings true for you, it’s time to focus on thriving in your new work from home environment. The following are some tips to help maximize work productivity and minimize negative impact on work/life balance.

Do expect professionalism, not perfection. The good news is that with so many of our industry professionals working from home, it’s understood that most are not working in the “ideal” office environment. There may be distractions, there may be juggling. The goal is to maintain professionalism, not to represent an aura of working from the perfect environment. Give yourself permission to not be perfect and extend that philosophy to others as well.

Do get dressed up for your video web meetings. Put on some professional attire (yes, business casual can count). This will not only help you feel more professional, but also suggests to others at you are in work mode. Harvard Business Review recently published a great article (“3 Tips to Avoid WFH Burnout”) on the beneficial mental impacts of doing things like getting dressed for work.

Do create a routine. Having a routine when work and home life is blended into a single environment is known to help transition between the two modes and establishes boundaries. No longer commuting to work? Consider taking a morning walk around the block as a morning replacement. This can help prepare your mind for the workday and signal that a transition is taking place.

Other components of a routine can include getting dressed for work, having your morning coffee in a designated “work” spot, and saying “goodbye” to family members. When my children were little, I used the “goodbye” ritual to signal that I was going off to work, even though I was only going upstairs to my home office. It seems silly, but the act of saying goodbye can help everyone in the household to move into the work phase of the day.

Don’t forego face time with colleagues. One of our members pointed out that many of us are used to walking down the hall to converse with a colleague, often as a pop-in - without a scheduled meeting on the calendar. This type of access to our peers and managers was likely one of the first things to go when the workplace moved home, and yet, for many, seems so essential in making decisions and getting things done.

Priority should be given to maintaining strong connections with individual internal business partners. While it may not be feasible to do this on the fly like in an office environment, it can be as simple as a regularly scheduled video “touch base” meeting, or even a post-work virtual happy hour.

Do set boundaries, including a quitting time. This is a critical one. I’ve repeatedly heard that establishing working times vs. home times is increasingly difficult. Without an office commute, some people find themselves working even more hours than before – using that “commute” time for work. Be careful not to allow work to creep into an all-hours of the day/night situation. Even though work and home may be occurring under the same roof, it is important to establish start and stop times.

We will continue to source strategies that you can use to move your work from home situation from surviving to thriving.