There are times when you have a choice whether you work remotely or in a place of business, then there are times when you have no choice.
Here are some hints about working from home that may guide you into a healthier and more productive work style when you absolutely must stay home.
Our natural biorhythms become disrupted for many reasons throughout our lives. Generally, things settle in and we return to our normal circadian schedule. A cross country move, the birth of a child or death of a loved one are all reasons one may lose a sense of rhythm to a daily schedule.
When you work from home keep a schedule to help maintain your mental health and focus.
Set your alarm, take a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast; in other words, pretend it is just another workday. If you have children at home, discuss how your work schedule and their school schedules will mesh. A break from work and your child’s recess can be spent together sharing ideas or observations but don’t start watching a three-hour movie in the middle of your work/school day.
Choose a Spot
In the past, on days you have not felt well enough to go to the office but wanted to finish some work you probably plopped down on your sofa with a cup of tea in hand and monitored your essential work duties. However, working remotely on a regular basis is a bit more serious.
Find a spot in your home–a spare room you can dedicate as an office or the end of a dining room table; it doesn’t matter if you know that is your workspace.
Place the things you need for work in that area and try to maintain a boundary. If you use the only dining table in your home, create a workspace that is easy to move at the end of the workday.
Keep supplies in small bins or baskets so they can be relocated before your family sits down to dinner. During the day keep other distractions out of your work area.
Don’t do tasks in your home office area that you would not do in your business office.
End of the Workday
Nine to five should still be nine to five. There is a tendency to let work and home life bleed together when both occupy the same space.
On a normal workday, you would have a routine for leaving work, a commute of some kind and then you would enter home life. The decompression time between work and home is valuable to your mental health. It acts as a psychological buffer between worlds.
When you work remotely there is a tendency to check work emails or messages at any time of the day or night. Try closing your work computer at the same time you would normally leave your office or put your workspace away. Take a walk around your home or yard. Treat this as your new commute, and then begin your daily home life.
Your home may be lovely and comfortable, but it may not be the most physically healthy place for work. If you don’t have the luxury of an entire room to use as an office look at the space, you use. Is the lighting correct for the tasks you must do?
Is there any natural light? Are you working at a desk, counter or table and do you have a chair that promotes good posture? Are you able to stand up periodically?
These are important things to take into consideration when deciding on a space to work in.
Do not allow yourself to lie on the couch with your laptop perched on your belly and a bag of chips tucked under your arm. If you create a workspace with good lighting, air circulation and the type of furnishings that you would have at an actual office, you will have an environment that is conducive to getting work done.
Keep up on communications with co-workers. This can be done in a variety of ways. Emails, texts, Facetime or group meetings on platforms like Zoom, among others, are great options to keep the work community together. If your organization had weekly meetings on Monday mornings, try to maintain that schedule.
Meetings should not cease simply because everyone is working remotely. If the regular schedule for meetings can not be met make sure everyone knows that a change has been made.
There are a variety of ways we normally communicate at work and at home from your home office. There are formal connections, as discussed previously, but there are also social connections that occur daily. A ride to the office if you carpool, a ride in the elevator to your office, a greeting in the break room or just a round of good-byes at the end of the day. These interactions help our mental health in unseen ways.
Even small interactions confirm that we are noticed, and these are the interactions that bind ourselves to others. Once you establish a routine for remote formal and informal interactions with fellow workers you may notice if a colleague is missing from these gatherings. This is a time to extend a personal note to check that person’s health.
Without the constant movement of coworkers throughout an office one may not notice the amount of time that has elapsed. If you are a person who likes to plow through tasks without breaks, reconsider.
When working remotely there will be no one saying ‘Hey, let’s grab lunch.” It is important that you take periodic breaks to stand up, move around and drink some water. Plan for regular exercise and no, a trip to the refrigerator does not count. Yoga and meditation are good methods to use to clear your mind of worry and stress.
Appreciate What You Have
The adage, “It could always be worse” in most cases is true. Appreciate what you have and the people in your life. If you live in a small apartment and you feel like your apartment is too small, remember, there are many people with no home at all.
Much of what we know comes from centuries of living in societies. Human beings are social creatures and a sense of dislocation can occur when we must distance ourselves from co-workers, friends and loved ones. These are normal feelings that we all have. Just remember to stay in touch as best you can.