The trials and tribulations of working from home and how to better your experience.
By Ralph Jardine, Head of People Excellence, CMB
Before we were in the midst of a global pandemic, I made a pledge to myself that 2020 would be my year of self-care. My goal was to eat healthier, work out more and get a full night’s rest as often as possible. This resolution proved to be easier than I imagined when most of the world, including HSBC U.S., went into lockdown and followed mandatory work from home orders.
I am used to a two-hour commute each way from my home in New Jersey to the HSBC offices in midtown Manhattan, but now I take advantage of those four hours I have gotten back due to this sudden change of lifestyle. It has certainly been an adjustment period for all, but some advice I can give is to take time for you. Whether that is blocking time off your calendar from meetings to get desk work done, going for a 15-minute walk in the middle of the day or practicing deep breathing exercises, it will pay off to take the time to do these small things for yourself.
Managing Family and Friends when Working from Home
19 years ago, I was blessed with twins and although they were extremely disappointed to have their first year of living on a college campus cut short, my wife and I were relieved to have them home and safe. Due to preexisting health conditions and other reasons for medical attention, having them home has been a time to cherish… we can do more, check-in more and be there for emotional support around the clock. Conversations like what classes to pick for next semester are now easier and deeper than just the quick and sometimes disconnected phone call it was before.
So even with some bumps in our road, the working from home experience has been a productive and calmer time for my family… but I know for many, it has not. My advice to ‘take time for you’ seems simple, but I know after talking with both colleagues and friends that it can be hard to do. The struggles of working from home can sometimes be overwhelming and difficult to manage so I am grateful that in my role as the Head of People Excellence, I am given the opportunity to hear from a wide range of employees, listen to their stories and find ways to help.
It is clear that no two people have had the same experience during these months of quarantine, but we all had the shared experience of abruptly adapting to a new way a living. Many colleagues are cooped up in small apartments, some are home schooling their children while balancing a full-time job, some have relocated to other parts of the country away from their city homes. In the most extreme and concerning circumstances, some colleagues who may have used their offices as an escape from chaotic personal lives now face difficult circumstances as they 100% work from home. My People Excellence team and I are determined to acknowledge and support our colleagues in any way we can.
To better help, HSBC had created a hub of employee resources that features articles on topics such as how to manage small children during the workday, cooking recipes, mental health services, online exercise classes, career development and so much more. Although this was available prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, an abundance of information and insight has been added in the last three months. One of the most obvious struggles has been working from home with small children. It is likely that you have seen a colleague’s child pop into the background of a Zoom call, interrupt to ask for lunch or meetings pushed because Mom or Dad had to facilitate an online learning class.
I recently asked my colleagues, Eric, Stacey and Julie, about their unique working from home experiences with younger kids, and here is what they had to say: