Reflections from my first week of WFH

After a week of quarantine living I’ve complied a list of reflections that became apparent within my first week of working from home, abbreviated as “WFH”, due to the unprecedented novel COVID-19 pandemic that hit hard in the Spring of 2020. These gems range from tech etiquette, productivity advice, and a WERD on tuning in to the news. Feel free to share your own quarantine reflections in the comments!

#1 – Think before you speak aka you need a mic check.

As many have experienced in some form or another, this pandemic has caused many people to reconsider if meetings could be emails and transitioning from in person gatherings to video calls. In place of our annual Professional Development Day (PDD) for 200+ staff members, administration decided the night before that it would be best to cancel the day of learning to instead have the director of our division host a Q&A session via Zoom to discuss the current and long-term impacts of COVID-19. As many huddled behind their cameras, streaming audio and video while others only used the chat box feature, most started to check into the 11 AM meeting a couple minutes early to ensure there were no technical kinks to workout. Knowing myself – I make it a point to mute my microphone and unless requested I prefer not to use my camera.

SN: Sometimes I say things out loud that were never meant to leave my mouth so better safe than sorry.

A colleague however was not so cautious of her Zoom usage. As everyone was getting queued up, one minute away from the meetings start, she thought her microphone was muted so she said laughingly “Why should I have to look at all these old white men? Look at that guys bald head.” Whewwwww chilleeeee.

Someone quickly notified her of the faux pas but the damage was done. We all knew who said it and we knew the bald head she was referring to – I can only imagine her embarrassment that morning. With that said, whether in person or via video chat – remember to think before you speak.

#2 – Ask if cameras will be used in advance.

With many institutions moving their academic programs to an online platform, my MBA courses were no exception. For my Thursday night Accounting class the professor sent out the Zoom link in advance of class to ensure everyone was comfortable with the platform. I used Zoom for work and other meetings earlier that week so I felt prepared. What I wasn’t prepared for was when class started and the professor asked that we all turn our cameras on to make sure we were paying attention…

I was not ready in the slightest since it was a bonnet, bra and boxers type day for me. My first reaction was Googling

“How to kindly reject someones request that you turn on your camera in a virtual meeting”.

Then I started to consider how things would play out if I told the professor I wasn’t prepared for the camera to be on but will note this requirement for out next e-class. After finding nothing useful online and not trying to be difficult I quickly ran to the bathroom, put my hair in a pouf, filled in my brows, threw on clothes and “went to class” with the camera on…against my will. To avoid a goofy moment like mine – don’t assume cameras are off. Ask in advance of a virtual meeting if cameras are needed so you can prepare yourself.

#3 – Prepare yourself.

Going off of the previous point, what does it mean to “prepare yourself”? Whether your cameras are on or not, preparation can take many forms from washing your face, having a glass of water nearby, choosing a nice workspace, making a task list and ensuring any materials (i.e. books, paper, pen, charger, etc.) you might need are handy. Being in the comfort of my home can prove to be difficult because I sincerely enjoy my space and feel most relaxed here. Preparing myself for work helps to remind me that just because I’m conformable doesn’t give me the chance to slack off – I still have to show up and get work done (even if I squeeze in a nap or two in the process).

#4 – Let your space show your humanity.

Many times people will make up their own version of you based on what they know about you and how they experience you daily. The WFH life disrupts that narrative and shows an entirely different, more vulnerable side that many wouldn’t share until after a couple dates minimum. In such an unprecedented time we’re all tearing down some walls and inviting people into our home and life. Let your space show your humanity whether that be pets, kids, plants or your thoughtfully planned home decor.

#5 – Ask what others do to stay productive, focused and relaxed.

I find that many times my own thoughts and reflections are refined if I’m willing to share them with others. The alternative perspective and wisdom some people are willing to provide can be so simple yet so needed. Trying to find ways to be productive, focused and relaxed with all that is going on around us is a perfect opportunity to connect with your people and ask them how they’re managing things. This action is twofold – you’re checking in on your people/refraining from total isolation while also gathering ideas of keeping your peace. Not all the advice you receive will be right for you but it might inspire an idea or be something you can pass on to another.

Shoutout to my friend Gabby who shared a work playlist with me when we checked-in on each other as we navigate WFH life. This genre is called “Lofi Hip Hop” which mashes up traditional hip-hop and jazz elements to create an atmospheric, instrumental soundscape. It’s hella melodic so if you’re like me and songs with words can be a distraction for you – this is worth a try. If you already listen to Lofi and have suggestions for other types to get into or if it’s your first time and you liked what you heard – share thoughts in the comments.

#6 – Check the news as far as you’re comfortable.

It’s no secret that the media is pushing much of the hysteria of COVID-19. My feelings as of recent can be summed up with this tweet:

Keeping in mind that money is made off of our hysteria and drama, please do stay updated on what’s going on in the world to be an informed citizen HOWEVER protect your peace. Watching the news should not be at the detriment of your sanity and with all that we’re learning on a day-to-day basis via so many avenues – there may be a need to tune out at some point. Having the news on in constant rotation is the equivalent of checking WebMD for a mole diagnosis – you end up thinking life as you know it is ending. After being exposed to too much negativity and chaos it can consume you and chip away at your peace. I think Ice-T summed it up best last week:

Your mental space has such a huge impact on your physical so make sure you’re taking care of your headspace and being conscious of what you’re letting in.

Thanks for checking out my WFH reflections after one week in quarantine. Please drop some of your own gems or things you anticipate will come to fruition as we navigate these new waters. If you’re interested in knowing how I’ve kept my peace in all the commotion – let me know in the comments and I’ll write another post for you! With all that said, cheers to living brilliantly, always learning, trying, failing, dreaming big, enjoying the small stuff, and above all else … blogging blk girls.

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