In November 2020, approximately 8 months into the pandemic, Groundswell Cloud Solutions officially became a hybrid workplace and we have not looked back since. From then on, Gswellers have been able to work the majority of the year from home, if that is where they work best. Our office is open for those of us who love to work from a heated (& air-conditioned) office with a view, or for those who enjoy popping into the office every once and a while to catch up with a colleague.
Working from home is different from working in an office for so many reasons: no free coffee, no colleagues encouraging you to take a lunch break with them, and having that extra hour or two in the day from lack of commute.
For many of us, working from home made us seriously rethink our routines and daily habits, and how they positively or negatively affected our work/life balance. If we want our day to look a certain way, it is essential that we create healthy habits to get us there.
Let’s hear from Groundswellers as they reflect on the last year of hybrid working; the pros and cons of working from home, how they plan their days, and what habits keep them afloat.
You may have heard their tips before, however, that does not make them any less important!
Liezl de Ridder
People & Culture Business Partner
I really enjoy how hybrid work switches up routines and keeps my days interesting. When I work from home I savor the extra me-time when I don’t have to commute to the office. Being able to take a proper early morning walk and grounding myself in nature, lounging in bed with the newspaper a little longer on a cold rainy morning, taking a little extra time to prepare a healthy lunch, or throwing in a bundle of laundry between meetings gives me a sense of agency and freedom.
Having a quiet workspace set up with a great chair, fresh flowers, and no distractions is pure luxury. Plus the comfy leggings – we can’t forget that! An effective way for me to disconnect from work has been to schedule an after-work routine like doing a workout or going for a walk on one of the many trails around the park with my sister. A “fake commute”, making friends with my neighbor’s dogs or a local farmers market or library run, helps me to reconnect to my surroundings after a busy day. Having a few office days a week to enjoy seeing my awesome colleagues and our beautiful downtown office brings excitement and stimulation. Nothing beats the laughs you share with your team in the in-between moments at work, and having such a smart, supportive, and kind set of colleagues is what keeps me coming back to the office week after week. Treating myself to a nice lunch from my favorite Lebanese place or meeting friends for fancy after-work cocktails is great. Always keeping a good novel handy makes my hour-long commute fly by in no time: it always stimulates my imagination and creativity.
During the past 18 months I have learned that rather than resisting all the change and uncertainty, it has been far more beneficial for me to lean into the circumstances and find those joyful moments, no matter where I am working from. Maintaining a regular gratitude practice helps my mental health and positive outlook. Reframing the way I look at WFH, returning to the office, and commuting has helped me be flexible to appreciate the small pleasures; the warm coziness of working at home in slippers, and the spontaneous laughter in the office when someone shares a funny story.
As an ambivert I truly appreciate the freedom to choose where I am able to do my best work each day, be it alone from my sofa or with colleagues at my standing desk in the office!
My Hybrid Tip: Reframe your outlook on working from home so that you can appreciate the small pleasures in your day-to-day.
There have been a number of benefits working from home for me. The biggest is that I save about 1.5 to 2 hrs a day commuting to and from work. This is huge for me as it means I can take time to get a few things done in the morning prior to the start of my day, as well as start dinner right after I finish work. I also have had the flexibility to pop to my son’s school for last-minute meetings or take my kids to appointments with minimal disruption to my workday (it is easy to make up time missed having an extra 2 hrs). I am also able to multi-task during the workday and do chores like throwing in a load of laundry which means I don’t have to wait until the evenings or weekends to do everything.
To keep things structured for me I keep to a consistent routine and have a dedicated workspace set up. I start work most days at 8 am and finish around 5. I get up in the morning and do anything needed prior to the start of my workday such as unloading the dishwasher, feeding the cats, cleaning up anything left out from my kids, running my son up to school, or making myself some tea. I used to get up between 5:30/6 and leave by 7 am, but now that I work from home now I get an extra hour of sleep and get up around 7. My workday also tends to be quite busy so the time goes by quite quickly and most days I don’t have time to be distracted! However, in the beginning, it was challenging. When I first started working from home my kids would interrupt me all the time as they could see I’m home so didn’t think anything of it. I am lucky they are older and after chatting with them about my time they do understand and respect that when I’m working (unless it is really important) they don’t bother me until they see me taking a break or I ask them how they are doing.
There are a couple of things I still find hard to do while working from home and a few bad habits I have created. When I hear the “ding” notifying me of a message I have a bad habit of stopping what I’m doing, such as making or eating my lunch or dinner, and going to have a look and answering it. I do have to force myself to remember to take breaks; eat my lunch away from the computer and turn my notifications off. Also, my kids can sometimes make a huge mess around the house especially in the kitchen and I have to remember that it’s ok not to do anything about it until after my workday (if I was in the office I wouldn’t see it until I get home). Overall sticking to a routine and having a supportive family has been key for me to stay focused. The benefits of working from home for me have far outweighed any negatives!
My Hybrid Tip: Have a dedicated work area set up to help keep work and personal life separate.
What a change it has been switching to a routine of commuting to the office and working in person in this virtual WFH era.
Overall I enjoy working from home. I try and look at the benefits that come with the situation. For example, my regular commute to and from work would usually take a combined time of two hours per day. I keep in mind that over the workweek, this gives me back 10 hours a day that I would have been on public transportation! Looking at silver linings like this helps me appreciate the unique benefits of WFH. Although I do miss interacting with my coworkers in the office, having those friendly desk-side conversations, I have made it a point to try and fill that deficit virtually. Our company uses a Slack app to schedule casual meetings with random people that may come to any project or line of work. I have found this to be a great substitute for bumping into people at the break room, and since the bot is the one instigating the meeting, there is no effort required to be the one taking initiative. Woohoo technology ftw!
One habit that I try to keep is to get out of the house for a walk. It is so easy to spend the whole day indoors and in front of a computer, but getting out to feel the sun (or more likely rain) and smell the fresh air while getting some steps in, helps a ton mentally to stay grounded and see the bigger picture. It also helps in creating boundaries in work, especially if you work it out to take a walk right at the end of the work day.
As tempting as it is to let work slide into your everyday life and personal things slide into work time, I have found it important to stick to a routine, and allocate things like a work space to focus on work, and then a place to chill and have your personal life.
My Hybrid Tip: Physically and mentally separate your work life from your personal life.
Alliances and Channel Marketing Specialist
The biggest difference I have noticed is how working from home cut down my commute time and the effects that has. I find I am no longer tired from my seabus ride and walk home and can start making dinner right away or doing dishes.
My morning routine working from home is somewhat similar to my routine when I commute into the office. First, I have my vitamins and anxiety medication with some water as soon as I wake up. Then I make a pot of coffee for my partner and me. One habit I have brought back is practicing Spanish on Duolingo again. This is a habit I started 2 years ago and now do in the mornings while I do my other tasks. I like using the app because it means I use Duolingo instead of scrolling through Instagram. With just a few sessions in the morning, it is a quick and easy way to wake up my mind. I started learning Spanish in high school and it is still a goal of mine to be fully fluent. After my quick Duolingo session, I then hop onto my laptop and check email and Slack. Mornings are the most structured time of my day, and I often struggle with maintaining this drive throughout the day, even with using a list of to-dos. I tend to go into the office more (at least twice a week) for the structure and break up of routine. The office just inspires focus. I know routine is essential for me, but my creative side pushes against it. I have been studying Spanish with Duolingo ever since the app came out, but sometimes I drop it for a month or a year. The point is not to give up on your habit even if you don’t stick to it all the time. Practice makes progress, after all.
My Hybrid Tip: Whether you are WFH or commuting it’s important to stretch your body and be in tune with what it needs.