This blog post was written on March 18th, 2020. As we all know, information changes by the hour so keep that in mind as you read this post!

We are in uncharted territory, friends. No one wrote a book on how to handle the situation we are currently facing. Personally, I’ve been pushed and stretched as a leader in ways I didn’t think I could. Regardless of our training or banking background, we are making decisions we never ever thought we would have to make with information that changes on an hourly basis. At Grand Savings Bank, we have taken this situation seriously and have made adjustments accordingly both for our team and our customers. You can check out www.grandsavingsbank.com for more info or email me directly as information changes constantly.

Working remotely during the #CancelEverything movement is a game changer in times like these, enabling some banking roles to continue their daily job duties as they quarantine. Clearly not all community banking roles allow for remote working and that’s OK. Community banks are doing their best to stay open for customers so it could look different from bank to bank. But some of you are finding yourselves working from home instead of reporting to the bank during this pandemic and my guess is that you might be a little lost or possibly in shock. Therefore, I have compiled the following list of tips and tricks from bankers all over the country that have extensive experience in working remotely:

1. PRETEND YOU’RE GOING TO THE BANK AS USUAL

Let’s be honest, for the first few days, you know and I know that you’re going to wear the comfiest clothes you own, opt out of “getting ready” as you typically would for a day at the office, and possibly not even shower. After a while, however, the appeal of not being office ready may not have the appeal it did on day 1. I’m all about optimizing my time and not spending an hour in front of my makeup mirror but there is something to be said for keeping your morning routine as close to normal as possible. Ann Buckmiller, Compliance Officer of Reliabank in Watertown, SD says, “Getting ready in the morning is HUGE for me. It really helps with productivity and sticking with my work routine.” Set your alarm, exercise, take a shower, and get to work. Tim Martinson, Marketing Manager at North American Banking Company in Roseville, MN, suggests keeping the same hours as you would at the bank. “There is a temptation to start work early, work late, etc. Staying on the schedule helps with work, life, balance which applies to those working at home.”

2. SET UP A SEPARATE WORK SPACE

I’ve tried camping out on my couch with my laptop, planner, and phone and trust me, it doesn’t exactly set you up for a day of productivity. Instead, Sam Burrington, AVP Digital Project Manager at Morgan Stanley and former community banker suggests setting up a separate work space in your home and bringing all of your “work essentials” to that space like your laptop, charger, coffee, planner, etc. “If you don’t have a home office, set up a folding table. I sit at my dining room table when the kids are playing and when I’m not hosting calls. If I need to jump on a conference call, I go to my dedicated space.”

3. STAY SOCIAL

Personally, I have really bad FOMO when I work from home and worry that I have missed out on all the important conversations or happenings around the office. Additionally, being the over thinker I am, I assume that others don’t think I’m working hard because they can’t physically see me working. Burrington goes on to stress the importance of over-communicating with coworkers. “Pick up the phone instead of sending an email. Try to have quick ‘how are you doing’ conversations to emulate in person exchanges.”

4. ESTABLISH BOUNDARIES WITH YOUR FAMILY AND FOR YOURSELF

Some of you may be looking forward to “quiet” time at home to focus on work with little interruption. For me, I found myself distracted by the need to tackle the growing pile of laundry and feeling guilty for not hanging with my kids. (They are super confused with me being home, yet still working.) Establishing boundaries with your partner and kids can set the tone that you have work to do and they can reach you via text or cell just like they would when you’re in the office. Otherwise you might find you will get interrupted frequently like you do at work! “Set an alarm to get up and stretch, grab more coffee, take a lunch break, and walk around just like you would at the office,” said Martinson. Autumn Albright, Marketing and Sales Coordinator at Civista Bank in Sandusky, Ohio, suggests coming up with planned activities or a schedule for your kids if they are at home with you. This helps with keeping them busy during the day while you’re working.

5. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK

This tip may apply a little more toward the current circumstances than any other time one may work from home, but we all need to remember that none of us have all the answers on how to handle this pandemic perfectly. As I’m typing this I am looking around my house and it looks like a bomb went off. I’ve only been home two days and I’ve yelled at my kids, worked too much, stayed up too late, skipped lunch, and drank way too much wine. It’s a stressful, uncertain time. My family has been more than understanding and it’s helped to have banking peers to reach out to for guidance and advice. Remember that we are all in this together and this too, shall pass.

Many thanks to the following community bankers for their input for this article:

Tim Martinson | Twitter: @TimMartinson
Autumn Albright | Twitter: @AutumnAlbright1
Ann Buckmiller | Instagram: @eabuckmiller

Sam Burrington | Instagram: @s_burrington

A big thanks to Katelyn Meyers (Instagram: @meyerskatelyn_) for the post inspiration!