Prague’s usually bustling business centers have become ghost towns overnight due to the COVID-19 quarantine. Home office is the dream of many employees, but the sudden transition is proving to be a challenge worldwide.
On 15 March, Czech officials announced that all non essential travel, including commuting, needs to cease while they work to control the spread of COVID-19. Adam Vojtěch, the Czech Republic’s Minister of Health, explained that “only fundamental restrictions like this can help stop the spread of the infection in our country.” Grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants with takeaway and delivery operations are remaining open for now, but a mandatory quarantine is in effect for all other non-essential industries.
For most of Prague’s workforce, this meant clearing off the desk at the office and setting everything up at home on short notice. Parents are balancing the care of older relatives and becoming a homeschool teacher with working from home.
Maintaining a sense of calm is essential to getting through the quarantine, and we have compiled some ways to keep your sanity during this time.
Establish a Routine
People tend to thrive in structured environments and routines, especially children. While the future remains uncertain, keep your focus on what you can control today. Maintain a daily routine for your family by keeping regular wake up times and structured meal times (no grazing in the kitchen all day!). Changing out of your pajamas in the morning helps mentally prepare you for work to start, even if you have no plans to leave the house.
Keep Your Expectations Reasonable
Your employees and colleagues have just had their life turned upside down. Childcare, schooling, and regular activities are now a huge obstacle to overcome. Routine tasks like walking the dog or taking out the recycling now come with new restrictions that are changing faster than we can keep up. The 9am-5pm routine is being challenged, and flexible “in-office” online hours and deadlines can help employees find the balance between getting their work done and making sure their children are fed and taught.
Be Patient With Colleagues and Yourself
Implementing new technology in a company takes time. Employees need practice on the platform as the IT department hunts for programming bugs. The quarantine measures have forced a lot of traditionally face-to-face interactions to move online, often with little or no training for employees. Conference-calls and work-sharing platforms take time to get used to, and technical difficulties are to be expected. As students and employees head online, internet traffic spikes can cause slow connections. By anticipating network issues, and developing back-up plans for data sharing, companies can continue their operations smoothly.
Restrictions on the quarantine are being updated with unbelievable speed- with new government measures being announced almost twice daily. It can be hard to keep track. It is recommended that all living in Czech Republic regularly check the Ministry of Health’s website dedicated to the Coronavirus outbreak with information in English. They publish important telephone numbers, testing sites, and government press releases with up to date information regarding quarantine restrictions.
Look to the Future
Now that we’ve seen what an unprepared, emergency transition to home-office looks like, a silver lining from this quarantine may be the realization that home-office is achievable for your traditional office job. Once the quarantine ends, it might be a good time to speak with your manager about a more flexible working schedule that benefits both you and the company.