With the Covid pandemic still ongoing, home office has become a new reality for many people. Although the idea of not having to wake up early, commute and head to the office might have been exciting at first, many of us realized during the past months that working from home is not that exciting anymore.
If you feel like working from home is putting a strain on your mental and physical health, know that you're not alone: in fact, the numbers of remote workers went from 7% (pre-pandemic) to almost two thirds*.
Moreover, although over 80% of people wants to have the possibility to at least work from home once per week, being in home-office from Monday to Friday is a completely different story. The reason for that? A lot of remote workers experience struggles such as miscommunication, distractions, loneliness, different time zones, lack of motivation and unreliable internet connection. On top of that, the biggest challenge of working remotely seems to be finding the right balance between work and personal life. Do you actually relate to this? Then read our tips on how to improve your home-office situation!
1. Assign a specific working area (if possible)
Couches and beds might seem a tempting and comfortable working station, but beware of the risk of being unproductive. The reason for that? When working from places that our brain recognizes as relaxing, we might get easily and unconsciously into an "unwind" mode, which is not the best when working. Moreover, having a bad posture while working can be dangerous for our backs and make working from home even more difficult. If possible, try to assign a separate room for working purposes only, set up a working station with an ergonomic chair or a standing table and save your relax areas for when you switch off your laptop at 5 PM.
2. Human interaction
Don't let remote work affect your relationships with co-workers: even if you don't meet in person, it's still important to continue building strong relationships with them. Try to also rethink your communication channels: do not rely exclusively on emails and written communication, but try to establish face-to-face interactions, even if the are solely digital.
In fact, the right communication tool can strongly impact the work speed: face-to-face requests are actually 34 times more successful than those submitted via email.**
Moreover, 80% of remote workers stated that more frequent team communications would result in better work relationships, and 43% agreed that more face-to-face interactions would be more helpful to develop stronger relationships with their co-workers. Make sure then to vary the use of communication channels: chat, calls, video-chat can really make a difference and be more effective than an email.
3. Structure your day
Work and private life can get mixed up quickly when working from home, that's why it's important to establish a routine: wake up every day at a reasonable time (don't snooze your alarm until 5 minutes before work time!), avoid working when you're having lunch or spending quality time with your loved ones. And most importantly: remember not to do too many extra hours just because your laptop is staring at you from across the table.
Unplugging from work was named by 22% of people as the top struggle for remote workers making it the most commonly mentioned problem.
4. Set boundaries
A crowded household might not be ideal when working from home. Noise, mess and different schedules can be really challenging, therefore it's essential to set some boundaries.
Communicate clearly with your family or flatmates and discuss how to make the home-office situation work - and don't forget to do the same with your colleagues and managers. Flexibility is important however remember that rules sometimes are needed.
5. Take care of yourself & move your body
Even when we're spending many hours per day at home, we shouldn't neglect self-care and physical activity. Make some time for yourself everyday: read a book you love, practice a sport activity that makes you feel good, take a relaxing bath and enjoy some food you like. Working from home doesn't mean giving up on your life.
6. Have a break: you deserve it!
Working from home sometimes can feel like an endless cycle: wake up, work, eat, work, eat again, go to bed, repeat. It doesn't have to like this: remember that breaks are important and good for your productivity. Remember to take breaks, stand up from your desk, drink a glass of water and stretch your body a little bit. Your brain will thank you!
Switching off seems impossible? Go for a (socially distanced) walk. Sometimes we forget how beneficial a breath of fresh air and some natural light can be. This not only will break your routine, but it'll also have the benefit of keeping your sleep-wake cycle on track, making it easier to fall asleep at the end of the day.
7. Dress up!
The temptation of wearing old sweatpants when working from home can be difficult to fight: although there's no need to wear a suit or a blazer all the time, try to at least change your outfit after waking up in the morning. Opt for some comfy and soft relaxwear that makes you feel good but and at the same time looks good. And if you cannot really give up on wearing your pajama all day long, at least make sure that your choice of sleepwear is not only comfortable, but also breathable and classy.
8. Don't forget to sleep
Even though you might not feel as tired at the end of the day as a consequence of moving your body less, don't neglect sleeping. In challenging and unusual times sleeping properly is even more crucial.
A good sleep not only makes us feel better, but it heavily impacts our health and strengthens our immune system; in fact, those who sleep less than 7 hours per night are 3x more likely to catch a cold.
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*Sarit Luban. (2020, September 10). CIC. CIC
**A Face-to-Face Request Is 34 Times More Successful Than an Email. (2017, April 11). Harvard Business Review