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Asking for help while working from home

Over a full year of many of us working from home, we are reflecting on many of the challenges and changes. Most of us felt challenged this past year, perhaps overextended balancing our home-life and work-life happening simultaneously in the same location, caring for children at the same time you would normally be working or overwhelmed by swift changes in workflow and technology required to meet the demands of a reshaped world. We all felt it, and many have reached a point where the question must be asked: how can we ask for help without losing credulity or appearing weak? The truth is that we all experience moments where help would be, well, helpful, and there's no shame in asking for it when we need it. Here are few tips for finding ways to ask for help as we move into a second year of working from home:

 

Identify who to ask
When you're feeling overwhelmed and burned out, it's easy to feel desperate for any help, from anywhere, from anyone, but the most effective way to ask for and receive help is to know what kind of help you need and who to ask for it. If most of your day is being taken up by your children's homeschooling, for example, it's important to ask who can help you with that problem. Is it your spouse or partner if you have one who can help more evenly divide the responsibilities for your children's education? Or is it your supervisor who can lighten your load or extend deadlines to give you more time to better complete both tasks in your life?

 

Be specific
Before asking anyone for help, have a picture in mind of what that help might look like and provide it in your request. Don't fall into the trap of making too broad of a statement or request and risk receiving the kind of help others *think* will help you or that ends up being unrelated to the task you actually need assistance with. If your problem is children distracting you during meetings, asking your partner if they can oversee the kids during a specific date/time is going to be more helpful than a grand statement about the kids taking your focus in a broad way.

 

Provide your why
Some tasks seem simpler to some than to others, so they may not see why you need help with a specific task. If, for example, you need assistance with a graphic for a social media post at work but it takes you an hour or more to work with a design software and make it look good, but you have a coworker who can bust out a dozen graphics in the same amount of time, just asking them to do the work may seem like you're trying to get out of what they consider easy work. Providing the reason with your request and explaining how long it would normally take you to do that particular task will help the person to see it from your point of view and be more likely to help without resentment.

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When it comes down to it, the truth of the matter is we are currently in the middle of an (and we have to say it) unprecedented and unusual time. We're all under immense stress, and we all know it. Asking for help right now is not only normal but expected. We all need support right now, so don't be afraid to ask for it when you need it.

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