All dressed up and nowhere to go

Here I am, just graduated as an Industrial Engineer with big dreams and ready to take on the world. But never have I imagined this. Having my first day at work in my own apartment, not meeting my new colleagues face to face and have that many online meetings.

From a young age I dreamt of getting my degree and starting to build my career and independence. We as humans naturally desire to be in control and want to know what the future holds. As often in life, unexpected events happen, events which tends to leave us anxious. We do not like uncertainty.

For many of you, the norm for a “first day” was going to the office. Before the COVID-19 pandemic working from home was a luxury. A luxury that became a necessity and the only way to keep things running smoothly during lockdown.

This strange remote world resulted in an unusual way to start my career. I always had this idea for my first day at work; new office, new people and new challenges. Some of these challenges did come, but they came like an unexpected curve ball where I had to meet my new colleagues through a very small web camera and my home became an office.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

In this well-known saying our lemons are COVID-19. And no, I am not bringing up the pandemic again, I want to give you tips on how to make some lemonade.

The idea of not being able to go to work physically can be daunting at first. But if we are honest, the perks of working from home are undeniable. You do not have interrupted conversations at your desk, that will lead you astray. A study has shown that employees around the globe chose remote working, because they are more productive, have better focus and achieve a better work-life balance. [1] Commuting to and from work is something from the past, which saves valuable time and money. People are less exhausted and therefore log longer hours.

Let’s talk business

With all these benefits of working from home, there are some responsibilities that go with it. Although you might not see anyone, it is crucial to still get dressed first thing in the morning. It will help you to be more productive as you are no longer in pyjamas where you want to get back in bed or even work in bed. Getting dressed gets you ready for whatever the day throws at you and helps you to draw the line between being at work or being at home.

One of the biggest challenges for me was to maintain a work-life balance. It is so easy to keep working until 19h00, but somewhere you need to find a balance. Setting up a schedule and stick to it, as far as I can, helped me to work hard in the day and to turn “off” in the evening to prevent that hamster-wheel cycle. It is also important to take time to have lunch, and not in front of your laptop. Small breaks throughout the day will help you to stay productive. In these breaks you can take a short walk around the house, make coffee or a quick 5-minute clean-up. The change of scenery can do wonders for your afternoon happiness levels.

People forget the benefits of being around others and that is the small talk and random events that is happening at work that makes the day unique. When you work from home, a lot of the social interactions are cut off. So, to combat this I want to encourage you to schedule short catch-up meetings with your colleagues where you talk about your upcoming weekend activities or just to find out how are they doing and if they are coping.

As they say, good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity. According to an article in Forbes, teams that are highly engaged show 21% greater profitability as well as 89% of HR leaders agree that regularly check-ins and feedback are key for successful outcomes.[2] Make sure to schedule those Teams meetings.

Setting up your homeoffice

I would highly recommend setting up a working space that is creative, have good natural lighting, true to yourself and has all the stationary/equipment you need. I created a working corner where I have all working accessories needed and of course a green succulent on the side to give my desk some personality. I say, “working corner”, because I do not have an extra room to turn into an office, but if you do, that would be ideal!

If you are not home alone during the week like me, the “less distraction at home” will not suite you. It is important to set ground rules with people around you or try to schedule your day around your children’s lunch or homework hour.

At the end of the day, you need to find what works best for you. Sometimes you might need some inspiration from others who are in the same boat. I will leave you with one last thought, and that is to focus on being productive instead of busy.


  1. (2021, March 5). Retrieved from Owllabs:
  2. Beheshti, N. (2019, January 16). 10 Timely Statistics About The Connection Between Employee Engagement And Wellness. Retrieved from Forbes:

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Lizanne Groenewald
Junior Consultant - Gordian SA
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