Working remotely has been a trend in the corporate world for sometimes now. The expansion of internet access brought about an increasing rate of remote workers throughout the world. Companies adopt telecommuting in order to access and hire talents from different regions and parts of the world, to reduce cost of office space especially in new work zones, and to encourage flexibility of work. However, the coronavirus pandemic presented the world with a greater challenge that forced most companies to replace the usual office work system with remote work. While some consider the change as an escape from the stress of everyday work routine and distraction from coworkers, others have been faced with loneliness resulting from their inability to be with colleagues and friends.
Working from home puts one at a greater risk of isolation and the coronavirus pandemic has added to the feeling of isolation, stress and anxiety because of the fear of uncertainty especially for people who are used to working in an office in the midst of people.
Health professionals and managers have identified various practices that can help remote workers deal with isolation and anxiety. The following tips will help you maintain mental health while working from home:
- Separate work-time from home-time: as a remote worker, there is a thin line between work-time and home-time as you are always tempted to either sleep for longer hours or work for longer hours, thereby maintaining an unstructured day. This can make you feel weak and affect your productivity. To cope with the stress which comes with working from home, it is important that you schedule your daily activities in a way that you wake up at the appropriate time as you would have when going to the office, and attend to your home responsibilities and office duties adequately. Having an organized schedule will save you from having to pile your chores or office tasks, and become overwhelmed with them when you finally decide to do them.
Use alarms, prepare yourself for work by dressing up (you don’t have to be all corporate) before you start your office duties and break your tasks into smaller units. You can also create a workspace in your home to give you that office feeling. Be keen to balance your work-life and home-life so you don’t get weighed down by any. Know when to log on and off from office duties.
- Stay connected: to reduce isolation that comes with working remotely, ensure you stay connected with your colleagues from time to time. Communicate with your team members and manager using phone calls, video conference meetings and text messages. Use Skype and Zoom to schedule online meetings. Set a time of the day to relate with your friends and family. Discuss your challenges with trusted friends to keep you from feeling depressed.
- Take a break: taking some time off work to rest and stretch can be quite helpful to your mental health. Do this at intervals to relieve you of work stress. Create a regular lunch-break to get you refreshed before you resume work again.
- Maintain good hygiene and nutrition: the quality of your workplace is a reflection of your performance. Keep a clean and organized work environment to remain active all day. Eat good food rather than getting junks delivered to you in some brown boxes. Stay dehydrated to keep your body relaxed even as you work.
- Exercise regularly: working from home can make you inactive. After all you are in the comfort of your home, and there is no walking the lawn to catch a bus, or climbing the stairs at the office. But giving attention to your physical health will help you ward off stress and anxiety. You can take an evening walk every day to mark the end of your work time. Engage in 7 to 10 minutes of indoor workout to maintain fitness (since the gyms might not be available). Connect virtually with friends and coworkers to make your workout more interesting. This also serves as an avenue to interact with them. Use online fitness tools and videos to get creative workout ideas.
Although working remotely provides you with freedom and flexibility of work time, the circumstance of this pandemic can increase loneliness and anxiety. You must therefore make conscious effort to improve on your wellbeing to have a productive work life.