Working Habits

Resisting Over-Productivity During the Lockdown


Almost half of the global population is now at home, trying to stop the spread of COVID-19. The lockdowns have impacted organizations everywhere, and entire teams were forced to go remote overnight. Economists predict tough times ahead and many professionals are already struggling with lay-offs and unemployment.

With this scenario, it’s no wonder so many organizations are frantically trying to pull through, and show their supporters and donors that work will not stop during the pandemic. The lockdown is presenting unique sets of challenges for workers and managers alike, adding to the stress of an entire society and economy put on hold. So far, it seems the way many organizations are dealing with this is working twice as hard and taking advantage of these few weeks without events, business trips, or conferences to push teams to their limits. They are also strengthening their online presence through webinars, Twitter chats, lives on social media, campaigns, and more. In fact, many managers and leaders seem to think the lockdown is not only an opportunity to stay productive but even to become over-productive.

But over productivity during this time can have long-lasting effects on staff and management’s well-being. We must face the facts and acknowledge we are going through a frightening and out-of-control historical event, which can change our world forever. So, if you feel the urge to become over productive, try to remember these words of advice:

1. It’s still important to respect the work schedule

Yes, we know everyone is at home right now and most people will probably be on their computers and smartphones. But that is still no excuse to stretch the workday indefinitely. Urgent matters will always be a priority, but if you are wondering whether or not to bother a coworker or employee at 11 pm, try to ask yourself: if we weren’t under lockdown, would you wait until the next morning? If yes, then do not send a message. 

Having a clearly defined work schedule is important so that everyone on the team can prioritize those hours. If the schedule starts getting messy or overly stretched, it can seem like work is never really over, ruining all work-life balance – and that will surely lead to burnout.

2. Remember not everyone is in the same boat

A running meme on social media is making sure to remind people that not everyone is in the same boat – they are on the same ocean, some on yachts, and others holding onto pieces of wood. 

Even if you are friends with your coworkers, you do not know their home life situation. Some people (mostly women) are probably overburdened with care responsibilities. Others might be struggling with anxiety over a partner’s job loss. In some homes, there are computers for everyone. In other homes, one computer has to be shared between family members at precise schedules. 

If you are annoyed at a coworker’s lack of availability to accomplish a new project goal or campaign, remember that you do not know what your coworker is going through. This is not the time to be over-demanding, but rather understanding and empathetic.

3. Trust your team

If your team works perfectly fine during “normal times”, it will most likely continue to work during the lockdown as well. You do not need to turbo your work pace to make sure the team stays active. 

Remember that the lockdown is not a social experiment on remote work. Your coworkers are going through a pandemic, they are adapting to working from home and worrying about the present and the future. Every person should feel comfortable enough to say, “I can’t handle this” when the pressure is too big.

Given that we are all navigating such an unprecedented situation, we should try something we haven’t done before: be open about what we can and cannot handle.

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