For millions of employees who are temporarily working from home, beating isolation may be a huge challenge. With the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in many “stay at home” orders, many employees are feeling the effects of spending a lot of time alone. Day-to-day interactions with their workplace peers has now given way to limited conversations through electronic devices.
Many employees live far from their workplace friends. As a result, it is not easy to get together for lunch or coffee breaks while practicing good social distancing. Isolation may have negative impacts on employees’ level of engagement and productivity. If you are working from home, what can you do to promote positive feelings and increase your feelings of connection to your company and coworkers?
GMS Employees Share Their Tips for Beating Isolation
Just like many of our clients and network partners, GMS has several employees who are temporarily working from home. For some of these employees, this is their first time ever working from a home office location. A few of these employees have been having great success in getting over the feelings of isolation in their temporary work from home environment. We asked these employees to share their successes in beating isolation.
GMS Employees Beating Isolation While Temporarily Working from Home
Erika Escalante, Business Development Manager
“This is the first time I have had the opportunity to work from home so I have definitely been trying to keep busy. I have been going on morning jogs as I feel it allows me to start my day with a bit more energy. A few other non-screen activities are also fun, including working on puzzles and reading books. I enjoy virtual game nights with my friends.
We try to do one hike per weekend (while practicing good social distancing), and so far we have visited the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, Bartlett Lake, Tonto National Forest, and a few other places. I think the key for me in beating isolation is to keep busy and stay connected with my family and friends.”
Ann Knapp, Director, Transportation Services
“This has been quite a serious and quick change for all of us and it took me a bit to get into a groove since I’ve never worked full time from home before. I’ve tried to approach ‘quarantine’ with honesty, realism and humor (this is how I handle most things in life). For me, it’s been key to make sure that I’m consistently doing some basic things to start my day: get up, watch the Golic and Wingo show on ESPN while I eat my breakfast, and shower. Right before logging on each morning, I pick out some music (because the silence of my house is deafening) and then I get to work. For lunch, I do what I didn’t do at the office – I walk away. Sometimes it is for 10 minutes, sometimes it’s for the whole lunch break, just depends on the day, but I have found it to be valuable to help me get through the rest of the day.
Summer in Scottsdale
It’s been getting pretty warm here in the desert, so my short walks have all but been eliminated. Now I’m walking in place and have ‘one person dance parties’ – it seems a bit ridiculous, but it at least gets the blood flowing. Also, when I’m done for the day, I’m done. I try to log off pretty near to my ‘normal’ time, but when I finally do, the laptop is shut and I walk away from it for the night. I’m making more phone calls and video calls in order to have ‘more’ interaction with people, since that is what I’m missing most from my daily routine and it’s great for beating isolation.
I’ve also allowed myself to acknowledge that it’s okay to not always be okay with what’s going on in the world. I’m a ‘brave face’ ‘think positively’ person, but I’ve had to allow myself to acknowledge those occasions where I feel overwhelmed because I need to address those feelings – it doesn’t do me any good to bottle them up. There have been times when I’m scared about what’s going to happen in the future and times when the loneliness becomes very real – and those 5 or 10 minutes that I spend working through those feelings help me to reset and move forward. Additionally, hobbies have been taking up a bit of my ‘downtime’ whether it’s reading or knitting or picking up something new, they help to keep my mind active after work and on the weekends. We are in this together, we will get through this together.”
Laurent Lanée, Senior Global Assignment Manager
“This is not my first time working from home so it has not been a huge challenge for me to adjust. Beating isolation is something I know how to do well. I am also very lucky that even with my wife working from home and my daughter being home schooled at this time, we all have plenty of space not to interfere with each other. So overall it has been a pretty smooth transition for me, going back to a setup that I’m familiar with.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Communication is key when being remote. I have not been shy picking up the phone to call my co-workers to discuss something. I feel that the increased phone communication has allowed me to get to know my co-workers in a different way than face to face in the office. Being home definitely allows for more freedom of movement and communication.
My role as a Global Assignment Manager is always very independent as I manage my cases, assignees, clients and service providers mostly via email and phone calls so my way of doing business has not really changed, while being home based. I also feel that our team has actually grown closer as we are ‘meeting’ more regularly in a more casual setting, to discuss our work days and the current global situation.
Some of the things I have been doing on my side for beating isolation and to keep busy (not that it has ever been a problem for me) are:
- Practicing my cocktail making skills
- Teaching my daughter how to swim
- Assisting my daughter with her kindergarten home schooling (seems it takes an IT specialist skills to navigate all the apps that are needed for that to happen!)
- Set up a new swing set in our backyard for my daughter
- Going for walks and bicycle rides with my daughter in our neighborhood (trying to teach her how to ride her bike)
- Attempting to grow an herb garden (not that easy in 100 degree weather!)
- Cleaning up the garage (not that fun!)
- Communicating with friends and family via Facetime
- Working on the French/English translation of my grandmother’s journal (or her daily life in Normandy during the first half of 20th century including World Wars I & II)
- Reconstructing our family genealogy
- Working on pictures for our gallery wall in our new home entryway
- Submitting images from my 250,000 images library to online photo competitions and stock images websites
- Having weekly neighborhood happy hours with my wife in our driveway… and waving to neighbors!
- Attending free online photography and art courses via MoMA, Adobe and Canon USA
- Taking free virtual tours of exhibits and museums around the world
- Planning our family’s next vacation since the last one got canceled due to Covid-19”
Kelly Rabbitts, Vice President, Global Account Management
“I moved recently, so I have been unpacking, remodeling, and painting my new home. I have also been making lemonade with fresh lemons from my lemon tree.
Regularly participating in virtual happy hours with friends and family members helps with beating isolation through video chats and gatherings. I have also been pursuing my writing.”
What Should Employers do to Help Employees with Beating Isolation?
Employers should encourage employees to find ways to connect with co-workers, friends, and family members during their time working at home. Many states have various regulations and orders to “stay at home” so tips on beating isolation will be important for employees to learn and put into practice. Talent Management programs should take into account how workplace changes and dynamics can affect employee performance. Helpful resources should be made available for employees, and employers should encourage creative and fun ways for beating isolation.
GMS’ team of corporate relocation experts has helped thousands of our clients navigate issues that impact employees working at remote locations. As a result, our team can help your company share tips on beating isolation so employees feel engaged, productive, and a member of the team. Companies should take a proactive approach to helping employees who are temporarily working from home and who may be feeling negative effects of isolation.
GMS was the first relocation company to register as a .com. The company also created the first online interactive tools and calculators, and revolutionized the entire relocation industry. GMS continues to set the industry pace as the pioneer in innovation and technology solutions with its proprietary MyRelocation® technology platform.
Contact our experts online to discuss how your company can share tips on beating isolation for employees who are temporarily working from home, or give us a call at 800.617.1904 or 480.922.0700 today.