Finding balance, giving yourself grace, and accepting that everything isn’t just fine.
Working from home is a privilege that does not require risking our own health and safety every day. We know that the inconvenience of barking dogs or tiny city dwellings are annoying, but far better than the reality that many are facing.
However, even in what we could call the ‘best of conditions’,
there is a real risk of burnout that can affect productivity, expectations, and
overall mental well-being. We have scraped together new routines over the last
several weeks; all while dealing with some level of anxiety and frustration. What
signs of burnout should you look for and how do you change the mindset?
You feel guilty about the work that you are doing (or not doing). Perhaps you should have done one more item on your checklist, finished up one last project, or made one more phone call. After all, you’re saving time on the commute, going out for lunch, and socializing with co-workers.
Perhaps you are comparing yourself to your co-workers and it’s causing anxiety & guilt? If your co-worker sent an email at 6:30 am, does that mean that you should be doing the same? It is easy to want to create benchmarks. You can rationalize the decisions that you are making when there is a beacon guiding you. But this is a time when we’re juggling new systems, children at home, and schedule disruptions. Focus on what is expected of you and lay out those expectations with your manager so there are no ‘should have’, ‘could have’ feelings.
making yourself available 24 hours a day
Your office phone is forwarded to your cell phone, the video conferencing app is downloaded, and your email notifications come through to every device you own. You’re feeling the need to be available and accessible 24 hours a day – trying to avoid the ‘out of sight, out of mind”.
Being in a cycle of constant visibility and accessibility to your co-workers or managers is exhausting. If you wouldn’t do it in a normal office setting, then you shouldn’t be doing it in a work-from-home setting. Even if you are not working all-day, every day — if you’re feeling the need to be available all of the time, this may affect your ability to wind down and recharge . Find the right time to turn off notifications, stop answering emails, and communicate with co-workers. If you’re feeling uneasy about not being available at a moment’s notice, talk to your manager about your schedule and when you cannot be immediately available.
Not only are
you available 24-hours a day, but you are working many more hours than you
normally would. You’re skipping meals, breaks, and exercise in favor of getting
may think that you’re being more productive by stretching out eight-hour days
to twelve, fourteen, or more – it’s likely that you’re not taking care of yourself
as well as you should. There are many instances in which working too much
actually provides diminishing
returns in work quality.
This is the
time to set boundaries and create a schedule to force yourself to stop and take
a breath. Schedule breaks, exercise,
lunch, and shutdown times. Ensure that
meetings are scheduled within normal working hours. It is imperative to draw a line under the day
and end it when it needs to end. If you wouldn’t have answered a late-night
email before working from home, then you shouldn’t be doing it now.
find your groove
Working from home is not for everyone . It just isn’t. It can be a nice break from time-to-time, but for many, it just isn’t part of their routine that gets them out of bed and ready to tackle the day. Some people genuinely enjoy the in-office interaction or the face-to-face meetings with clients.
If you’ve never gotten into the WFH groove and you are resenting the situation as time passes, this can trickle down to other parts of your life. Are you overreacting to professional and personal situations that wouldn’t normally irk you? Are you struggling to use the makeshift home-office that you set up? Are you accumulating take-out containers as you work from bed (for the 3rd week in a row)?
Acknowledging the burnout is the first step to dealing with the situation. While it may seem like everyone else has got this down, it’s very likely that they’re facing similar challenges. There is only so much that you can see in a video conference call or via email.
At the end of the day, it may be hard to avoid the burnout. You may be in a situation where you’re playing the role of parent, teacher, and employee. Dramatically changing your routine may not be in the cards; but very small measurable steps can help you get through each day and help you to slowly take control of the burnout. Things may not go back to the normal that we now yearn, but this situation isn’t permanent and we must take care of ourselves in order to be better employees, families, and members of society.
Even if you find yourself in a position or an industry that has been spared from severe economic hardship or layoffs, there is still anxiety about changing jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowing what types of questions to ask a potential new employer or a recruiter is critical to your career when there are so many unknowns. There is a new normal that we will face, and it is important to understand how it will impact your new job.
Consider the following questions as you navigate the hiring
process during this time?
Have you had to lay off or furlough any staff? Which
This question can be asked in many ways, but it is important
to understand the general well-being of the organization. If there are lay offs
or furloughs, who were they?
Is there a waiting period for health benefits?
For many, COBRA or the health insurance marketplace may be too expensive – even in the short-term. Find out if there is a waiting period on health benefits. If there is, ask them to waive it and negotiate this into your package.
How will I be on-boarded?
If your potential employer is currently WFH, how are they
on-boarding new employees? Will you receive equipment? Will you have someone to
walk you through the first few days in the same way you would in an office /
team setting? How are they dealing with team introductions and assignments?
How am I being evaluated?
It is important to understand the how and what of evaluation
if you will be starting your new job while working at home (when you would
otherwise be in an office environment –even partially).
What are the measures of success? Am I expected to produce
on the first day? The first week? The first month? Who will be evaluating my
performance? Who can I go to with questions?
When am I expected to be available?
Find out whether you have core hours or whether you have
flexibility. Will this continue once things are back to ‘normal’? If the
position is traditionally in-office, how many days will you be expected in the
Is there any flexibility? For example, many schools or
after-school care programs are closed for the remainder of the academic year.
What will the transition back to ‘normal’ be?
While a plan may not yet be fully formed, particularly in areas of high impact, it is reasonable to ask how the company will be addressing changes in the office – cleanings, social distancing, masks, seating arrangements, staggered shifts, in-person meetings, etc. It is important to understand these changes and expectations.
The Talener team is currently working from home and providing continued (but adapted!) services to our clients and candidates. If you have questions about the types of companies that are hiring and how the hiring process is functioning during this time, please feel free to contact us.
While hundreds of thousands of people have faced layoffs over the past several weeks, hiring remains critical in areas such as healthcare (including telehealth), technology, and CPG. Many technology companies that support work-from-home efforts are seeing platform usage rise. Microsoft Teams has seen a 775% increase in usage in areas that are largely affected by the virus.
These hiring shifts present unique circumstances for
managers and recruiters alike, as they attempt to on-board new staff while also
meeting I-9 and E-Verify guidelines. The Department of Homeland Security has
announced that they will temporarily be flexible regarding the I-9 guidelines
for as long as the national emergency surrounding COVID-19 exists or 60 days
from March 20th, 2020 (whichever comes first).
For employers and recruiters who are following COVID-19
guidelines, particularly in regard to limiting physical proximity – ICE is
allowing new employee identity and employment authorization documents to
initially be reviewed without a physical presence. Documents should still be reviewed remotely.
The full press release explains the steps that employers should
take to virtually and then physically examine the documents once normal
operations resume. Please read the official Department of Homeland Security
here for specific employer requirements.
This temporary flexibility for on-boarding only applies to
employers and workplaces who are currently operating remotely and have no
employees physically present and able to inspect I-9 documentation.
This declaration by DHS is an important part of helping the
wider community fill their business needs, without burdening employers and
recruiters with the physical presence requirements.
During this time, Talener is prepared for virtual on-boarding
and is working closely with candidates and clients to help them understand this
temporary on-boarding change.
If you have any questions about on-boarding new employees
during this time, please reach out to your Talener representative. Talener is
proud to support our candidates and clients during this time.
There is an allure to working from home if you are an on-site employee. Just once a week, it would be nice to skip the commute, work from bed, and play music while you type away. If you regularly work from home, then you likely have a schedule, a set-up, and have chosen this type of work lifestyle. You’re prepared and your daily life likely hasn’t changed too much.
But for many, navigating the work-from-home model during the COVID-19 outbreak means a drastic adjustment to everyday life. There are plenty of great tips and tricks to making your space work-friendly and keeping yourself focused. But what happens when you hate working from home? What happens when you thrive on your office environment for conversation, motivation, and energy?
Particularly in this critical
moment, work-from-home doesn’t mean work-from-anywhere — libraries, cafes,
and public spaces are closed in many states and people are being strongly
encouraged to isolate themselves.
As inherently social creatures
(even introverts!), forced isolation can be tough. Spending a weekend binging
your favorite show and never leaving your home is a choice. But somehow, when
it’s forced, it’s no longer enjoyable.
So how do you get through the
dread of working from home while everyone else is celebrating in their pajamas?
Take a Break
Sometimes lack of motivation is tough for newly minted work-from-home employees. But sometimes the opposite is true. Overworking yourself to make the day go by faster — without taking your normal breaks can burn you out. It’s far easier to leave a physical office at the end of the day and mentally shut down.
Being motivated and productive is
great, but if you are going to be in a forced work-from-home environment for
the foreseeable future, then scheduling breaks and a firm end-of-workday time, are
Take a walk, bake, call your
friends, check in on your parents, or catch up on your favorite drama. Take a few moments to stop working and bring
some normalcy back into your life.
It’s so easy to ask a question
and collaborate when you’re in a shared office space. “Have a minute? Can I run something by you?” –
it seems trivial until you have to try to schedule a time to meet or need an
If you have a team, or a close
group of co-workers with whom you have regular contact, schedule a few five or
ten-minute sessions every day to video conference with them. These are the people
who make your in-office experience great.
It’s easy to chat via instant messaging, but socialization and communication
needs aren’t always met this way. Maybe
it’s a laugh or a quick catch up to get you re-energized before the next big
Change it Up
Chances are, if your company has allowed (or mandated) work-from-home, then you have some flexibility in your schedule. If you are in a position where you only need to be physically present during core hours or mandatory meetings, talk to your manager about working when you are most productive. Try to align your schedule with your natural cycle of productivity. Take advantage of your night-owl or early-bird tendencies. You may find larger chunks of time during the day that you can focus on yourself, your family, or your home.
At the end of the day, for many, this mandated work-from-home model is short-term. For the weeks ahead, we can adjust, adapt and know that we are doing this for the greater good and to stop the spread of Coronavirus. But it’s important to acknowledge that working from home is not for everyone. It isn’t always as simple as eating breakfast in bed, in your pajamas, and going about your day as if nothing has changed.
Talener is committed to the safety and health of its employees, clients and candidates. All Talener offices are currently working from a work-from-home model. It is important that we are able to have a happy and healthy team who can continue to help candidates find jobs and help clients fulfill business needs during this unprecedented time. We thank you for all of your patience and for adapting your practices as we all navigate these changes.
Planning for modified hiring processes, handshakes, and video conferences
Businesses and people across the country are preparing for a
potential pandemic of COVID-19, the Novel Coronavirus. But today, like any other day, millions of
people woke up, got themselves ready, and made the commute to work. For the
vast majority of employees who don’t work 100% remotely, physically coming into
work is a reality, pandemic or not.
Employers are making business continuity plans, and major
companies like Twitter
are banning all non-essential travel.
Google and Facebook both canceled their developer
conferences in the wake of the outbreak. Some have even restricted their
own employees from offices until they complete a mandatory quarantine after
traveling to high-risk areas for business or pleasure.
But businesses must continue to operate. And part of
operating means hiring new employees as business needs arise. The use of phone interviews or video calls is
widespread for early stages of the hiring process, but most companies require
an in-person meeting at least once before extending an offer.
If you are working with a staffing agency like Talener, your
representative is your advocate – especially if you have concerns or questions
regarding on-site interviews. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get answers
prior to going on-site. If companies have enacted work-from-home policies, ask
how it affects your ability to interview as well as your potential start with
If you are working on your own, most hiring managers or HR
will appreciate the heads up about any concerns you may have.
If you have traveled to a high-risk area recently, please be
courteous to your interviewers and give them a heads up to confirm if they
would like to re-schedule, conduct a video conference, or have you come into
Likewise, if you know that the company at which you are
applying has international offices in high-risk areas and employees who travel
frequently, you should ask the hiring manager or your staffing representative
if they are taking any precautions with their own staff.
Experiencing sever cold or flu-like symptoms before your
interview? It is in your best interest
and the interviewers to give them as much notice as possible if you are feeling
under the weather. While canceling an
interview is never ideal, providing as much notice as you can is always the
This is particularly true if you have traveled to risk-areas
or if you live in a densely populated area where you are in constant contact
with people at shops, restaurants, or on public transportation.
It is OK to let your interviewer know that you are trying to
follow universal precautions during the outbreak. If you’ve been on public
transportation, take this approach, “I was just on the subway, could you point
me to the restroom to wash my hands before we get started?”
If you are uncomfortable skipping the handshake, keep hand
sanitizer with you or ask to use the restroom to wash your hands before you
begin your interview.
Many companies have business continuity and disaster plans
in place, particularly in densely populated areas or if they have employees
that travel regularly. During the
interview, ask about work-from-home policies, policies on personal and
work-sponsored travel, and expectations.
During this time, your Talener representatives are in
constant contact with clients. They are learning about continuity plans as they
emerge as well as making alternative arrangements if in-person interviews are
not a viable option. If you have questions about a company with whom you are
interviewing, use Talener as a resource.
For more information about the Novel Coronvirus (COVID-19),
the WHO, CDC, and National Institute of
Health provide universal precautionary measures as well as information
about the spread of the virus.