OK- the alarm goes off. You’ve probably been awake seconds before the alarm goes off. From that point every part of the “getting ready for work” ritual has shifted. Especially the one where you leave your home and travel to an office and embody the work persona.
To work remotely you must create a 4th wall. You are no longer in the lounging at home mode, even though you haven’t left, rather you have created a quasi stage, with cameras, lights, and zooming action.
The 4th wall is a theater term. When you see a play, the actors create the 4th wall between the audience and the characters within the play. Rarely do they break the action to bring down the safety of the 4th wall. This imagined wall keeps you, the audience, in a state of buying into whatever is being presented on the stage. The actors incarnate into characters that take you on an adventure, and you have chosen to enter into a state of the performance.
Goodbye to the you who was office centric. And identified as such. The shirt, tie, suit, beautiful shoes are stored away as you say “Hello sweatpants”, don a dress shirt (who cares what’s on the bottom), open a laptop and sit on your favorite dining room or kitchen chair to embody the faux actor behind the 4th wall of work.
Sure, fun at first, and then reality sets in. You realize you can’t “leave your work at the office”. Your home IS your office.
Distinguish between work time and home time. The brain is multitasking between a multitude of roles. We do this all of the time, but the role shifts at home are different than the role shifts at work. The shifts cause stressors you may not even realize are present. It is essential to break down the 4th wall when the work day is done. Re-enter the home environment with intention, knowing you are switching out of one role and entering into another role.
When you transition into the new role of parent, friend, partner after having been in the work role, there is often a sense of grief and readjustment.
As an employer, what can you do?
Every employee is unique. Help employees transition to this new ordinary by pacing meetings during the day. Plan to help relieve the stressors of your employees. Give your operational needs some thought and identify ways to provide space between the work /life schism.
Flexible working hours, split shifts, part time telecommuting or more.
Be open to employee’s needs and suggestions and discover what works best for you and your employee actors.