Balancing Working and Living at Home
LSU School of Education professor offers recommendations for anyone working from home.
BATON ROUGE – The coronavirus, or COVID-19, continues to impact people all over the world. For some, they’re forced to find the balance and separation of not just staying inside their home, but working from home as well. It’s a situation LSU’s faculty and staff are focused on everyday – offering their classes and services virtually. Stephanie Eberts, assistant professor of professional practice in the College of Human Sciences & Education, offers guidance to LSU faculty and staff, as well as others who find themselves working from home.
Are there new or different stresses that employees who are working from home, like LSU’s faculty and staff, are facing during this time?
Faculty and staff, like everyone, are likely experiencing higher levels of stress now. Spring semester can be very busy. When you add the sudden shift to working online, there is additional stress. We are learning to conduct our work lives in an entirely different manner, which can be tiring in and of itself, but when you add the additional environmental stressors that the world is currently facing, it can feel insurmountable. The faculty and staff at LSU are among the brightest in the world in their respective fields, but this shift can leave really brilliant people feeling frustrated and exhausted.
How can people work through that frustration?
Sometimes, just understanding that our brains and regular coping strategies may not be working the way they usually do, can be helpful. When our coping resources are overwhelmed, we reach a crisis point. Faculty and staff may notice feeling more irritable or sad. We may notice this in our family members and students, as well, compounding the challenges we are facing. It is important to recognize that none of us has ever experienced anything like this pandemic, so it is completely normal that we are not our most productive selves. I imagine this is not a comfortable place for LSU faculty or staff. We may need to shift our expectations of ourselves and of our students during this time.
As students’ anxiety heightens and our community is starting to experience losses of loved ones, our humanity is especially important during this time. These losses that we, or our students, may be experiencing can impact focus. It is a time for us to be gentle with ourselves and with our students.
We should give ourselves and others time to heal, and since healing happens in relationship, we need to connect with each other through these tough times.
How can people work toward separating their work time from personal time while working
In this time when our work and personal lives are both happening at home, we need to address boundaries for our time. For some time now we have been connected to each other 24 hours a day through technology. But now more than ever, if we do not put some boundaries around our work time and family time, we will likely feel like our lives are chaotic and stressful.
We can set up outgoing messages on our email outlining the times that we are responding to work emails. We can record an outgoing message on our voicemail that indicates the hours you will respond. You can advertise time windows for virtual office hours for students.
While we are putting boundaries around our time, it is also a good idea to schedule some time for movement, whatever movement looks like for you. The daily movement of going to campus, teaching our classes, and going to our colleagues’ offices has been eliminated, and it is more important than ever that we are intentional about moving. Movement helps lower anxiety and stress.
This can really apply anyone working from their homes – what should they know or do?
Right now, we should be gentle with ourselves and others, simplifying life as much as possible. In this new normal, we are all trying to figure out what we want our day to day lives to be. It is OK to have bad days when we do not do all we set out to do. It is also a great idea to celebrate those things we are doing well. And more than ever we need each other – connection is essential in these days of social distancing.
Contact Rachel Holland
LSU Media Relations