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Following mass closing of rec centers due to the coronavirus pandemic, many Americans are working from home for the first time. Working from home can be difficult for people to adjust to, and can bring up new challenges.

Below, three community rec professionals share their tips and best practices for working from home:

Stephanie Dworkin, marketing director, Katz JCC Cherry Hill 

  1. Zoom has been used constantly as a lifeline for one-on-one, small group and larger staff meetings. I’ve also found Microsoft Teams messenger to be really helpful to talk in real time, and of course, email. But I’ve also found email can bog you down and I’m all about picking up the phone because more often than not, it brings resolution quicker.
  2. Make your bed and get dressed for the day. It really does help.
  3. At night, review your schedule for the day ahead so you know what to expect your day to look like. I do this to help my husband and I juggle full-time work and caring for a toddler at home.
  4. Be kind to yourself — take a walk around your neighborhood when the weather cooperates, sit outside for lunch if you can, or do something for a few minutes that puts you in a healthy mindset.

Matt Whitehead, CEO, Decatur Family YMCA

  1. Plan your days and weeks. Make sure you have a list of what needs to be done and then prioritize that list.
  2. Time block assigned time to each of your tasks. It is easy at home to get distracted or walk away from your work. People should make sure they assign an amount of time to each specific task.
  3. During this time, we have been flooded with information from the federal and state government, national offices, attorneys and banks. A person could literally spend a day and night working through all of this. It’s important we all take time to relax and decompress.
  4. Because our facility is closed, a person’s workload may not be as much as it was before. Use this time to connect with members and participants, especially the elderly. Many people may feel lonely and isolated — using this time to connect with them could be beneficial for the member and the organization.
  5. Scheduling video conference calls with staff is beneficial. Since we are not in the office together, it is hard to stay connected and understand what is going on in the different departments. Video calls are also moral boosters — it is good to see people we maybe have not seen in a while.
  6. While at home, managers should use their time to plan. When we reopen, there is a very good chance our organization is going to look different. We should look at revised budgeting and altered staffing. Are we going to be able to offer the same programs? Will our communities’ needs be different after this is over, and are there new programs and services we should look to offer? These are all things staff working from home could and should spend their time working on.

Beth Casper, marketing and communications manager, Eugene Family YMCA

  1. Try to create a soothing, ergonomic workspace with good lighting. The last thing you need is a headache from squinting or neck pain from staring at your computer in a weird way.
  2. Set boundaries as much as possible with your family. Tell them when you are starting your workday, what you need from them and how they can support you. If you plan on taking an important call, make sure they know, especially if your workspace is right next to a high use area in your house.
  3. Don’t work day and night. Sometimes there might be a looming deadline, but set work times for yourself as much as possible. This is a stressful time as it is, there is no reason for work stress to overwhelm you.
  4. Be clear in your communication with your coworkers. Tell them what you need and when, as well as how you sent that electronic file. Pick up the phone and call if you don’t understand an email or text.
  5. Exercise. You’ll feel better if you take a walk or a run outside or fit in an online workout class. Everyone needs endorphins now.
  6. Be a little playful. Wear a fun hat, crazy earrings, pig tails or even some fuzzy cat ears. We all need a little humor.
  7. Be gracious with yourself and others. This is a hard time and everyone is doing their best.
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Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor of Community Rec Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com.

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