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COVID-19 and How to Work Well from Home

Featured Speaker

Kasey Burke, FNP-C

Kasey Burke, FNP-C

Kasey Burke, FNP-C is a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner for Aspirus.

About this Podcast

Kasey Burke FNP-C shares tips on how to work from home while under a shelter in place due to COVID-19.


Melanie Cole (Host):  Around the world, the Corona virus has upended daily routines and for a lot of us, that includes working from home to help limit the outbreak spread. If you are new to telecommuting, these tips can help keep you productive, positive and still part of the team. This is Aspirus Health Talk. I’m Melanie Cole. And today, we’re discussing how to work well from home. Joining me is Kasey Burke. She’s a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Aspirus. Kasey, I’m so glad to have you with us. This is really a fantastic topic. Let’s just start with people are now working from home with their headsets and computers and kids at home. It’s really unprecedented and for some people it can be wonderful and for some people it’s pretty daunting. Give us some of your best advice and tips to help manage your kids at home, to work from home to really keep yourself productive so that we can all get through this together.

Kasey Burke, FNP-C (Guest):  Well thanks for talking today Melanie. You mentioned all of the problems that I personally struggle with. I am a provider working Family Medicine. When I’m at home, I have four kids that are all needing something from me on a constant basis. So working from home has been a challenge for me as I expect it is for many other people in the world right now.

So, things that I have done to help find good balance for me to work at home and make me successful. First and foremost, I have set up a dedicated workspace. Now people may have to improvise with things such as a folding table or a small desk in a bedroom. If you have a home office, that’s ideal. But not everybody does. The dedicated space is worth the time it takes to set it up. A home office has helped me stay organized and it’s a physical reminder for me and my children that I’m working and on the clock.

Host:  Well that is really an important point you just made. That you are working and, on the clock, and I too am working from home and if my kids come down to my office space, I’m like – if they see the headphones on, they know I am busy. I’m working. So, tell us also, how to treat this like the job that we once had when we had to get up and get dressed and be at work. Because some people now think that this is a way to work in your pajamas or not have to get up as early or start as early. Give us some tips about that.

Kasey:  You hit the nail on the head right there. The basic thing is you need to get up and get dressed like you normally would do to get up and go to work. Staying in your pajamas might seems like a perk of telecommuting but one way to stay disciplined with your work schedule is to help get ready for the day. So, get up, get dressed, take your shower, drink your coffee, do everything you would as you would on a normal day. It’s fine to keep things casual. You don’t necessarily need to dress to the nines. But showering and dressing in clean clothes helps put you in the right mindset for work.

Host:  It does and one of the things that I know as someone who works from home is the breaks and regular work hours. Sometimes, when you are an at home worker, you work longer hours than you might even realize because you run to your computer at 8 o’clock at night, sometimes in the middle of the night. These work hours can be sporadic and at all kinds of odd hours and you might even find yourself working more hours than you thought you would. So, tell us about keeping those regular hours, taking breaks, that sort of thing.

Kasey:  A healthy work life balance is very important. The pandemic itself is creating mental strain on a lot of people so working extra hours or doing more than what you normally would, would only add to that frustration and strain that people are experiencing right now. So, even if your employer doesn’t insist on keeping regular work hours; I would recommend that you stick to your normal work schedule so you can stay on track. Show up at your home office as though you would at work and call it quits at your usual time too. Put your stuff away. Working at home can definitely make it hard to switch off professionally but we all need that healthy work life balance.

Host:  We do. And we already talked a little bit about kids and the running around and those distractions but there are other distractions. We have TVs around, there’s stop, take a break, watch Tik Tok, go on Instagram, something like that. So, what do we want to know about distractions and that we have to really be available for our bosses if we need to, but we can easily get distracted at home.

Kasey:  Definitely can. In addition to all of the electronic distractions, who doesn’t have laundry that needs to get done or dishes that need to be washed. Heck I feel like I could clean my house daily with my four kids home from school right now and that still doesn’t get it to where I’d like it to be. So, acknowledging those struggles before going in to working from home is important. It’s important to take breaks. Short breaks are actually productivity boosters. They help clear your mind. And standing up and stretching for a while can have physical benefits as well. If you commit to not doing things like the household chores or the TV visits or the radio listening too that you wouldn’t normally do at work; it can be helpful also to dial down those distractions that we’ll encounter at home.

It is important to be available too for your boss and your coworkers while telecommuting at home. So, I would advise that you share your work schedule with those people. Especially if it’s not your normal work schedule. Stay in touch and promptly respond to emails, instant messages and phone calls but remember to only do that during your working hours and not at 8 o’clock at night or at midnight or whenever the thought pops into your head.

Host:  That is really such great advice. And now we’ve got Zoom meetings and Facetime and all of these conferences and things that we may not be used to. Tell us a little bit about virtual etiquette as many healthcare providers are using Telemedicine now. Give us some of your best advice about that. I think I fear that I am lacking in the virtual etiquette but tell us what we can do to make that just a little bit better, more efficient.

Kasey:  If Coronavirus has done anything for the healthcare situation, we have had to move quickly into utilization of virtual visits and utilizing like you said, Zoom or Skype, things like that to keep in touch with people. We’re finding that a lot of our meetings and patient appointments for instance can be done with an electronic connection. So, during video chats and conference calls, it would be wise to get a quiet place, don’t let the kids offer distractions to you. You want your background noise to be limited. So, don’t have the radio in the background or the television in the background. Try to avoid the kids coming in to talk to you before you join into that meeting. Because that’s all distracting to not only you but the other people that you’re meeting with. When you are not speaking, I would recommend muting your microphone and don’t multitask while you’re in a meeting. That can be distracting. And not only will you not get as much from the video or the meeting that you’re in at the time; other people can notice that too. So, give the meeting your full attention.

Host:  That’s great advice. Wrap it up for us if you would, because this is really so important Kasey and it’s something that people are learning on the fly. We’re really learning as we go and we’re kind of all winging it together. So, give us your best advice about working well from home including as you said, standing up, taking those breaks, not putting too much stress on ourselves to spend that extra time and make time a little bit for exercise and good nutrition.

Kasey:  You hit the majority there. But to sum it up, I would definitely encourage the dedicated work space as I mentioned. Get out of your pajamas and do your normal routines so you are ready to go, and you are in the right mindset for work. The regular hours is essential. You cannot let work consume you at home. It is important that you still take care of the chores but do them off the clock. It is important that you take care of yourself and your family but again, do it off the clock, not during your work hours. Take those breaks because it is essential for not only physical but mental benefit as well. Dial down distractions so your work has your full attention during the committed hours. And again, be available and follow appropriate etiquette while you are meeting with other staff members.

Host:  Really great advice. Such an important episode. Thank you so much Kasey for coming on and giving us so clear guidelines on ways that we can really work well from home and be efficient. Thank you again. For the latest news and updates, please visit the COVID-19 resource center on the Aspirus website at www.aspirus.org. You’ve been listening to this episode of Aspirus Health Talk. Please remember to subscribe, rate and review this podcast and all the other Aspirus podcasts. And remember to share this show with your friends and family on social media because that way we can all learn this new world we’re living in and we learn from the experts at Aspirus together. I’m Melanie Cole.