Last March, I found out (like many people) that I’d be transitioning to working from home. As a fairly new employee at Atomic, with only five months under my belt, I didn’t know how to feel about the change. But within a week at home, I was loving it.
Endless time with my dog, cozy pajama bottoms, and the ease of tossing in a load of laundry whenever I wanted — what was this beautiful new life?!
Now, eight months into working from home, I still do enjoy spending time with my dog (even when he barks during a Zoom call). I still occasionally throw a load of laundry in the washer. And don’t get me started on the loungewear. But emotionally, there’s a gap.
You see, I’m a verbal processor in the truest sense of the phrase. When a thought pops into my head, I can’t quite make sense of it until I’m talking it out with someone. So I’ve put together a few tips for my fellow verbal processors to help us get through the rest of this pandemic (however long it may be).
Set up a daily team sync, and dedicate part of the meeting to chit-chat.
Social connections are few and far between these days, and the format of Zoom doesn’t leave much space for casual conversations.
On my team of three, we’ve started meeting every morning for a thirty-minute sync to kick off the day. The format typically goes like this:
This time is loosely reserved for chit chat. We don’t even think about work during these ten minutes. We talk about things like dogs, our latest cooking adventures, and the deer that keep eating Elaine’s bushes (those darn deer!).
To add a little structure to our sync, we each report in about our work using this format:
- What I did yesterday
- What I’m doing today
- Today’s intention
- Any questions or blockers
These thirty minutes set the tone for my day. They make me feel connected, socially and professionally, and they offer a space to talk about whatever comes to mind.
Take a walk and call someone — anyone!
As bored as I get looking at the same four walls every day, I struggle to motivate myself to get outside. Lucky for me, my dog has no trouble wanting to go outside. So while I’m walking him, I call the one person that I know will always be down to chat — my mom. We talk about our work and our personal lives, and (as a fellow marketer) she helps me brainstorm when things feel blocked.
You may not want to call your mom in the middle of the day (I get that), but maybe you have a verbal-processing friend who could use a headspace break, too. Not only will you feel more connected to your network of friends and family, but allowing yourself to have conversations that aren’t so heavy (let it be known, heavy topics include COVID-19) will allow your brain to open up creatively.
To hold yourself accountable, put a fifteen- or thirty-minute hold on your calendar each day for your walk time, and stick to it.
Have lunch with a co-worker — virtually.
At Atomic, we have a little program called a Pair Lunch, where the company pays for Atoms to have one-on-one lunches together (with the caveat that each pair of employees only gets one paid Pair Lunch per month). This system is nice because it gives you a chance to chat with people you might not otherwise interact with much.
When COVID hit, Pair Lunches didn’t really fit within the “stay at home” protocol, so Atomic implemented Virtual Pair Lunches! Each Atom is now paid for their lunch break when it’s taken during a Pair Lunch. I like to take advantage of Pair Lunches to meet with everyone — folks in my office, folks in our Grand Rapids office, anyone!
Taking thirty minutes to sit down, eat my lunch, and have a casual conversation with a colleague has been invaluable. It makes me feel connected and brings back a sliver of the social energy I once got from daily in-person interactions.
A few Atoms have even gotten creative with their Pair Lunches, doing things like ordering takeout, cooking their lunches live on camera, or, in lieu of eating, ironing their clothes to keep their hands busy.
If you’re a verbal processor who’s working from home, what do you do? Please share your experiences in the comments below!