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Watching Out for Your Colleagues While Working Remotely

As each day passes, with more stunning revelations about the severity of the global COVID-19 pandemic, I am experiencing new thoughts, feelings and fears-for myself, my family, my colleagues, and imagine many of you are too.

Check in on each other daily

Many people live alone, or have self-quarantined away from friends and loved ones.

The COVID-19 coronavirus is dangerous, in part because it can present with only minor symptoms initially, but then return quickly with severe ones including respiratory distress that requires immediate medical attention.

Please check in with your colleagues routinely. If you are feeling symptoms and think you might be affected by COVID-19 while by yourself, reach out to colleagues, at least a few of them, so they can check in on you and will be available to get help if needed.

Do stuff that makes you happy

With headlines being dominated by dire and tragic reports from around the world, it’s easy to get stuck in news feeds that reinforce and amplify negative thoughts and feelings. Be assured that the best and brightest minds from all over the globe in academia, government and the private sector are innovating and collaborating to bring solutions to this problem every single day.

And while it is important to stay informed and follow local guidance on how we can help, there’s no need to binge watch every breaking article. So instead of using that much deserved break from work to look at the latest pandemic headlines, try these:

There are also endless ways to volunteer and otherwise help in your local community right now, whether contributing to out-of-work bartenders, baristas and performers who are part of the gig economy, offering online homework help through your public school system or helping with online coordination for a local food bank.

And don’t forget to call or FaceTime your grandma, aging neighbors or others who might be feeling lonely and isolated too. Reaching out and offering a small kindness is one of the best ways I know to feel better myself and to feel that I’m making a difference for good. What else makes you happy? Writing makes me happy :)

Stop eating like an eight-year-old

For those of you who know me personally, I’ll ask you to politely avoid noticing that I’ve gained at least ١٠ pounds during this pandemic.

I, like many others preparing for a long stay indoors, not only stocked up on toilet paper and canned soup, but also Oreos, Blue Moon, rainbow sherbet and Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Butter popcorn. And because I’m sure there might soon come a day when Chipotle and Panda Express no longer offer carryout service, I feel compelled to load in on all the fast food goodness I can get my hands on, lest I be relegated to subsisting on my own uninspired cooking.

I suspect many of you have done the same. Enough! It’s been nice binging on comfort food and Poptarts for the last two weeks, but we have to snap out of it. Let’s eat like we all have ٥٠ more years to live. Megan wrote a great blog on this topic last week.

Let’s talk about loneliness

Personally interacting with others on a regular basis is important to most of us, whether that be colleagues, customers, book club friends, poker buddies, neighbors or our kids’ teachers. Sharing a smile, a hug or just being in the same room together provides an energy that now has to be replaced, at least for a little while.

That may leave some of us feeling lonely and isolated. Here are some things that might help:

  • Set up some FaceTime sessions with the people you’re used to seeing (but plan ahead – do NOT spring a FaceTime session on me without a couple hours’ notice!)

  • Talk on the phone with your octogenarian auntie from Des Moines or use a white board to communicate with people in the building across the street from your balcony (Yes, my kids think I’m crazy. I just think I’m friendly!)

  • Schedule a few extra online gaming sessions with your buddies

Try a weighted blanket

Touch or tactile connection is also important to feeling secure and well. Several years ago, I learned about weighted blankets that are used to help with a wide range of anxiety disorders, insomnia and general malaise. We now have several in the house to help us fall asleep faster or when one of us just wants to be snuggled. They can be bought on Amazon.

A folded grey and blue weighted blanketSource: Quility on Amazon

You can buy these blankets in different weights. Technically, the weight is aligned to the size of the person it’ll be used for. For most adults the ٢٠ lb. blanket works well, although I’ve been known to fold the blanket in half and snuggle underneath it for ٤٠ lbs. of coziness. In most cases, you can buy a duvet cover separately.

Don’t stay up all night gaming or binge watching Westworld

Working remotely and being forced into a new routine is tough and makes us prone to blur the lines that used to exist when we actually had to get up and go into the office, get kids off to school and follow a pretty rigid schedule. Try to maintain regular work hours, dinner time, and bedtime to help guard against getting muddled and out-of-sorts.

Try to get outside every day

Myriad studies exist that extol the benefits of getting outside every day, no matter the weather.

It’s important to adhere to social distancing protocol and otherwise protect yourself, of course, but getting outside for a quick walk or better yet, a little forest, walking in a nearby park or hiking trail will affect mood, reduce stress and add to overall wellbeing. Here’s a good article on the topic from Business Insider, Why Spending More Time Outside is Healthy.

Have lots of conversations

I’ve set up a company-wide channel on our company Slack designed for support, laughter, silliness and most of all connection right now. I would encourage you to do something similar on whatever platforms you use.

We use this channel to post important stuff such as how to make dachshunds out of colored paper (thanks Queen Margrethe of Denmark), reminisce about what we miss from the office (e.g. office dog Camille eating my pizza during standup but being unable to hide the evidence given her snowy white coat), offer suggestions for overcoming boredom, or how not to go crazy living alongside your OCD spouse whose Dyson stick vacuum has become way too front and center in all of this.

We also use it for book, game and TV series recomendations, and to post questions that allow us to learn more about each other such as:

How are your pets doing? A greyhound relaxing on a dog bed

What are you eating today? A pineapple with several chunks missing, sitting on a table next to a laptop, mouse, and mousepad

And who eats a pineapple like that?! A work chat where an employee posts a video of himself taking a bite out of a whole pineapple, and the chat responding with confusion, "STOP", and "Savage"

So that’s it. That’s what’s on my mind right now. Be well everyone. Stay strong.

SteelSeries.com is donating a portion of all sales in April and May to The Global FoodBanking Network. We also encourage you to donate directly to your local medical, service, food, and other charities. Now more than ever is the time for us to help each other however we can.

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