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Carreer Junction by Michele Majul-IbarraNew COVID-19 work norms

by Michele Majul-Ibarra

Professor Robert Kelly, also known as “BBC Dad” became a viral Internet sensation in 2017. Professor Kelly is an American political analyst on inter-Korean affairs and associate professor in political science at Pusan National University in Korea. You may recall the viral video clip of Professor Kelly struggling to concentrate during his live TV interview when his children innocently ambushed his home office.

Currently, what does the majority of the workforce have in common with Professor Kelly? Many parents including myself are experiencing a new global work-from-home norm as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whatever the type of work you do, whether you are working on the front-lines or working from home, there are so many new norms that we must incorporate into our current lifestyle.

Here are some tips to help you cope with some of the challenges attributed to the pandemic:

Loneliness in isolation

In the effort to flatten the curve, public health officials have advised Canadians to self-isolate, work from home and stay home. While the situation is very stressful for everyone, it is normal to feel this way as it is a natural human response. However, in order to keep our sanity, we need to take steps to stay socially healthy. This may sound a bit peculiar, but we do not only go to work to earn a living; we also go to work to interact with people. I am not suggesting that we should visit our co-workers at home and hang out for coffee. There are other ways to stay connected while following the rule of social distancing – such us the use of several conferencing platforms like Zoom for example.

Working from home

For people who are mobile or who travel a lot, working remotely is an expectation and a normal way to perform their duties while physically away from work. There are many challenges associated with working from home because there are quite a few logistical requirements involved. It can include living conditions such as good personal working habits, space and technology. For a person who has never worked from home, it can be a logistical nightmare. Before you can start working from home, a dedicated space is important, whether that space means setting up your workstation in the living room, dining area or a spare bedroom. The setup looks different for each person, so you must figure out a dedicated workstation in your home that is compatible with your needs. Another thing to keep in mind is the importance of setting boundaries. A door would be nice to have, but not every person who works from home has this luxury. Some homes have an actual home office, but if one is not in place, it may be difficult to set boundaries, especially when children are around. One challenge that most parents face is the difficulty of having to homeschool children while they work from home. The reality is that parents who provide education support will have longer days, as it is quite difficult to work and teach at the same time. So most parents end up either working early in the morning or late in the evening in order to fulfill their work responsibilities uninterrupted. With this in mind, it would be appropriate to make the employer aware of the reality that you face at home so that expectations and boundaries can be managed.

Feelings of anxiety

Those who are still able to work are quite fortunate. Many workers and self-employed individuals are experiencing a different type of anxiety. Long periods of anxiety may lead to mental un-wellness. Exercise and keep your body moving to keep your mind pre-occupied and stay fit at the same time. One fun idea is to participate in workout sessions with your family or friends via Zoom.

On the bright side, the COVID-19 situation is only temporary. While we don’t know when it will be resolved, we can only try to make the best of it. Engage in self-care by keeping yourself healthy and happy.


This article is intended for information purposes only and not to be considered as professional advice.

Michele Majul-Ibarra, IPMA-ACP holds an Advanced Certified HR Professional Designation with the International Personnel Management Association. E-mail her at

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