Of all the radical lifestyle changes sparked by the coronavirus, there is none as prevalent as the number of people who have vacated their offices and are now working remotely. As millions of employees around the world work from home, people are starting to see the benefits, including no commute time, more autonomy and even less distractions than being in an open office.
Yet people are experiencing troubling amounts of stress in the work from home (WFH) environment. In addition to the feeling of being held “captive” in our homes, we are captives to our work; traditional work hours are gone; our days are filled with exhausting marathon Zoom meetings and back-to-back conference calls. Having spouses and children at home has blurred the lines between our work and personal lives. All of this has led many of us to ask,“Why am I working more than I ever did, but not getting as much done?”
With this crisis playing out over several more months and possibly years, businesses previously wed to office environments – especially in large cities – are rethinking WFH strategies and figuring out how to keep remote workers sane and productive at the same time. In the near future, there will be dozens of studies on how people coped in the new WFH environment and the best practices that have come out of it.
In the meantime, as someone who has created social and collaborative platforms for workers through the use of technology, here are my thoughts and suggestions on how we can create a better work/life balance from the home office while increasing productivity.
- Not every meeting has to be on Zoom. There’s something stressful about constantly meeting onscreen. Take a break by scheduling a phone call. It could be a quick call with people on your team or with a familiar client with whom you’ve been regularly communicating.
- Set aside time for asynchronous work. At some point you must be able to focus on the actual work rather than being in meetings. Try pre-scheduling time slots to settle down and get things done.
- Don’t be glued to a chair. Take the opportunity between meetings to get up, stretch and walk around, whether around the house or even more beneficial, outside in the fresh air. Carve out at least 30 minutes to relax your mind and smell the flowers.
- Take a personal day. This might not be for everyone and some may be reluctant to use up a day of PTO because they’re already at home, but in these times people could use an extra recharge day. It won’t feel like a normal day off, instead being outdoors, exercising and simply relaxing will allow you to come back refreshed the next day.
- Try to adjust your perspective. This can be a challenge right now, but maintaining a positive attitude is important for you and for your loved ones. Recognize that this is a temporary situation and focus on the positives, like spending more time with family or being able to have more weekend time for home projects.
This global pandemic has given us all a feeling uncertainty. If we concentrate on making small changes in our lives, including how we work from home, these will go a long way in helping us successfully navigate this crisis.