17 ways to thrive when working remotely
If coronavirus concerns have you working from home, you might be wondering how you can stay happy, well and focused in an environment filled with distractions and away from the day-to-day collaboration with your workmates.
Springday, the leaders in employee health and wellbeing have created this handy guide under the five pillars of wellbeing – full of expert tips to help you thrive when working remotely.
1. Stick to a schedule
When you work remotely, it’s essential to stick to a schedule, so your days have some of the structure and predictability you enjoyed in the office. Habits can be comforting, so in addition to working during your typical work hours, align your breaks and mealtimes at home with those at work, too.
2. Create physical boundaries
Where possible, try and make your workspace a different setting to where you spend most of your free time to allow for some mental separation. For example, if you spend most of your time in the living room when you’re not at work, choose a different place to set up your desk so you won’t feel like you’re in the same space around the clock.
3. Claim your workspace
Numerous studies have shown that the characteristics of your office environment can affect behaviour, perceptions and productivity . Ensure your monitor and laptop is set up as ergonomically as possible and then you can start personalising your place of work. Choose music, scented candles, plants, photos – items that bring you joy while working at home.
At home, it is easy to get right into the zone and not look up for several hours; however, research shows that keeping yourself moving has many advantages. Improved concentration, a sharper memory, faster learning, enhanced creativity and lower stress, to name a few. Stand up to read a document, walk around the house when talking on the phone, do a YouTube workout in front of the television at lunchtime, grab some fresh air with your morning coffee.
5. Eat Well
It is so easy to grab snacks when the pantry and fridge are so close. It is recommended to mindfully manage your meals the same way you do when you are at work. Put some healthy snacks in the equivalent of your desk drawer, pop a fruit bowl and bottle of water on your desk – even consider packing your lunch. There are several healthy home delivery meal services as well as pre-prepared options from the frozen section of the supermarket if you usually buy lunch on your workdays.
6. Limit your news intake
Keeping a healthy balance of positive to negative emotions is essential when working from home, and it can be challenging to maintain, given the constant alarming news coverage. Keep in mind that the news relies on sensationalism to attract viewers – it is a business, after all. The World Health Organisation and the Australian Government Department of Health acknowledged that endless news coverage of the coronavirus crisis is causing people stress. Don’t leave the 24-hour news stations on in the background and continuously check the headlines online; instead, get the most important facts, just once or twice per day.
7. Talk more
When we rely on more non-verbal communication, it can be easy to misread the intention within an email, digital platform or text message from a co-worker or boss.With so much time to think at home, this can send anyone into a negative spiral.
Use written communication for sharing detailed information or re-iterating agreements and use the phone, skype, zoom or FaceTime for regular meetings, conversation and collaboration.
8. Keep balance
It can be tempting to keep going after your work hours would have usually ended. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of answering just one more email or drafting one more page to get ahead for tomorrow, but long-term, this is a recipe for burnout. Stick to your usual schedule and devote the time you’d have spent getting to and from work or getting prepared in the morning to something you enjoy.
9. Manage stress
Managing stress may be easier said than done if you’re quarantined or self-isolated, but letting stress get the better of you makes you more prone to getting sick. Consider these approaches that have been shown to stress reduction, such as yoga, meditation, art or music therapy, or engaging in your favourite hobby.
10. Socialise virtually
Coronavirus concerns don’t have to change your social plans altogether. Instead of cancelling plans to head to the bar with your friends after work, schedule a phone/facetime date to maintain that social connection. Get your food and drinks organised, plug in your earphones and chat away!
11. Hang at home
Schedule fun activities with your family at home such as old school board games, walks, virtual catch ups with distant family and plan for future fun when life can get back to normality.
12. Use social media effectively
Social media can be a great way to remain connected to friends, family and co-workers; however, it can also spark negative feelings of comparison. One study found that the more we use Facebook, the more our life satisfaction levels declined and another found that social media is linked to greater perceived social isolation.
Limit your social media intake, just as you would in your regular workday or try swapping that time out for an interesting audiobook.
13. Celebrate the wins
When we work remotely, we often assume we are going to achieve ten times more in a day and then are disappointed when we don’t. It is important to set realistic goals and then celebrate their achievement. Research shows that wellbeing is greatly enhanced when we experience a sense of accomplishment
In essence, even seemingly small wins like clearing an in-box or writing a report should be enough to make us sit back and say “yeah, I did that!” and enjoy the happy hormones that moment provides.
For more significant achievements, you may not have that champagne in the board room but that shouldn’t stop you sharing the news or celebrating in other ways.
14. Invest in yourself
In the absence of a daily commute, you are likely to have a few more hours on your hands. Why not use that time to invest in yourself? Check out an online course, practise a new skill, write articles to enhance your personal brand and thought leadership position or reach out to some new connections on Linkedin. This time can be an excellent opportunity to spend some time developing your career.
15. Hide the credit card
Be careful about online shopping. It’s all too easy to start filling up your shopping cart at your favourite online retailer when your boss isn’t there to look over your shoulder, so remind yourself these are uncertain times and it’s best to hold off on impulse buys. Block these sites from your browser if the temptation is too strong.
16. Dining in?
It is so tempting to call up Uber Eats for your favourite meals, only to find your bank balance slowly seeping south. If you usually take lunch to work, try to stick with that routine by making lunch at home. If you typically buy lunch out on a workday, continue to adhere to your usual daily spend to avoid blowing the budget.
17. Don’t overspend on your home office
While you certainly need a comfortable space to carry out your work, don’t go online and order the biggest monitor, fanciest desk and piles of new stationery – especially given this time will pass.
Working from home and social distancing is new territory for many of us and can be trying when breaking away from our usual modes of working and comfortable routines. But those with a positive mindset who embrace wellbeing tips such as the ones above from Springday will experience a greater sense of achievement, increased levels of creativity, and strong personal growth through learning new skills – which among adverse times can be a very positive outcome for all!
Founder and CEO of Springday.
Given the current challenges at work, I am more than happy to have a free confidential discussion on how I can help leaders keep their teams and communities engaged, motivated and well during this time. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1An Overview of the Influence of Physical Office Environments towards Employees N. Kamarulzaman, A. A. Saleh, S. Z. Hashim, H. Hashim, A. A. Abdul-Ghani*
2Coulson., McKenna, Field, 2008 Exercising at work and self-reported work performance, Vol 1 10.1108/17538350810926534, International Journal of Workplace Health Management
3Kross et al. (2013) Facebook Use Predicts Declines in Subjective Wellbeing in Young Adults
4Primack et al. (2017) 2017 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2017.01.010
5Seligman, M. E. P. (2004), Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realise Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. New York: Free Press.