BING! BING! BING! At lunch with your eldest, or over a glass of wine for two in the late evening, there’s always something beeping, jingling or vibrating somewhere, usually nearby in your pocket or on the table. And most of the time, you could have saved yourself a look at the display: Someone has sent another funny GIF on Microsoft Teams, Mueller from Finance reminds you by email to sign someone’s virtual birthday card or – BING! – you haven’t confirmed your monthly absences in the company’s digital tool yet.
It’s clear: If you hadn’t looked directly at these messages, the world wouldn’t have ended. But you had to click to see them, didn’t you?
The answer is: No. You don’t always have to click. And you don’t always have to make sure that your status is set to “Available,” that you call back directly or drop the cooking spoon when your office neighbor asks for a meeting.
In 99% of the cases where it rings, beeps or pops, it’s quite sufficient to react later. Let’s say when your lunch break is over. Or, well, yes, on Monday when you go back to work (you can usually tell you’re at work by the fact that you don’t have a bottle of wine in your hand with your sweetheart waiting to toast with you).
To get through this – and stay sane for the next few months – you should take the following four steps.
Be Honest with Yourself
The company would not have allowed you to work more often from home if they didn’t trust that you were more productive there than in the office. This has nothing to do with charity, but it has to do with calculation. The nice thing is that you always wanted to commute less, so now you get what you want – and so does your boss.
What If Working from Home Goes on…Forever?New York Times Magazine
But that doesn’t mean that you have to be available 24/7. Your salary hasn’t increased for these added weekly working hours. This means that you should be honest with yourself and record how much you work. Analyze and rethink your new daily rhythm – take into account your loved ones, who are happy to see you more, but also the fact that you are still constantly absent.
Here’s some food for thought:
You need breaks, enough sleep and something to eat properly. You have to reserve these times because no one else will do it for you. Make sure that you plan time for work (Hint: Never hesitate to set your team chat status on “DND” for tasks that need at least a little concentration), time for family and time for yourself. And make sure that you don’t miss out on the latter when others are pushing!
… and Stick to Them!
The best set of rules and boundaries in the world will not help you if you are the first to break them. So you have to make sure yourself that you don’t reach into your pocket during the next BING! on lunch break, that you don’t check your mails on Saturday night if there is no direct reason to do so, or that you keep other old routines in the new system because you are afraid to attract negative attention. What will make you stand out negatively is that you are not yourself – with your loved ones.
Here is how to build your fortitude:
Don’t Be the Next “Mueller from Finance”!
Remember him? Further up the page we talked about him, because he reminded you to sign a virtual birthday card. Apart from the fact that you ran out of cool sayings and quotes after the twentieth of these invitations (and that was a few months’ ago), this is of course a nice gesture. But these gestures are so numerous that it has become impossible to pay the same attention to everyone here, i.e. to always be equally personal, honest and creative. The same applies to remote events of all kinds that fill the digital agendas: Some may be meaningful and exciting, but when sent en masse, from all directions, they only cause headaches. This shoots over the top.
Have the courage to miss out sometimes, you don’t have to join in everywhere.
And don’t be the one who sends around stuff that distracts your colleagues, upsets them (while making lunch) or makes them forget their pause. This is usually the case if you communicate in an unclear manner and have no chance of clarifying any misunderstandings that may arise – for example, while you stand in line together waiting for your lunch or meet in the corridor. You remember? A long time ago in an office canteen far, far away…?