It’s been some good five to six months since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out globally and created a ruckus of sorts. To ensure safety, people have been asked to stay indoors and maintain social distancing, which has affected working professionals in ways more than one. Many changes and adjustments have to have been made by employers and employees to adapt to the current situation.
One of the biggest changes to this “new normal” is working from home and remote working. Companies have enabled employees with laptops and connectivity systems to ensure a smooth internet connection. Organizations have also integrated tools into their system, which can improve employees’ productivity and efficiency while working from home.
A Gartner report says that “88% of organizations have encouraged or required their employees to work from home. 91% of teams in the Asia Pacific have implemented ‘work from home’ arrangements since the outbreak.” (source- Gartner, Coronavirus in Mind: Make Remote Work Successful!, 5 March 2020)
While many might say that the pandemic was a blessing in disguise as it has allowed them to spend more time with their families, the reality looks a little different.
This indefinite ‘work from home’ period affects both the physical and mental well-being of a working professional. Physical changes in the form of weight gain, obesity visible. But the effect on mental health comes from loneliness, anxiety, and even depression.
A recent survey by Blind stated that 52.9 per cent of respondents across Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, LinkedIn, and Walmart were facing loneliness during WFH and in the age of social distancing.
Burnout is another recurring problem now. Earlier people had a fixed time to clock out of their work. But some employees across the globe have said that work now feels 24*7. This is again on to their deteriorating physical and mental health.
8 Ways How You Can Work From Home While Staying Healthy and Productive
Here’s how you can deal with the issues as mentioned above while staying physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy.
The health conditions mentioned above apply to a non-COVID scenario too. Therefore, the following list can be used as a general guideline too.
1. Start Your Morning With a Routine
Start your day with a routine, but be flexible with it. This means that start your day with how you would in a normal office day- a fixed time at which you will log in, set up your to-do list for the day, reply to emails, schedule calls for the day, and so on. This is a habit that you must follow in an order suitable for you.
But do remember that you’re staying at home. Therefore, you might have to deal with sudden emergencies like cleaning the clogged toilet, changing your baby’s diapers, and so on. Therefore, set up your routine in such a way that you can move them around in your to-do list. Identify the tasks that are absolutely important and be flexible with the rest.
2. Have various workspaces
Many professionals say that having a dedicated workspace boosts their productivity. But if you’re like me, who gets tired of the same setting easily, it would be good to have various workspaces around your house. It can a designated table and chair, a couch in the living room, and so on. A change in setting can help freshen you up and might help you get better ideas for your task at hand.
But, keep all the work areas clean, tidy, and hygienic. Clean and bright spaces have the power to automatically lift our energy and spirits. Therefore, dust and clean the areas regularly.
3. Take Breaks in Between
What would you do when you get tired of working at your workplace? You either go outside to get some fresh air, talk to your colleagues, check on your social media, and so on. A work from home setting shouldn’t change that.
When you get tired from working continuously, pause for some time. You can also set up a fixed break time for you to have your food during this time and take a power nap. Talk to family members during these short breaks, watch videos on Youtube, etc.
4. Move around the House
Although a continuation of the previous point, this is focused on doing some physical as well as mind relaxing activities. In between your work breaks, do some stretching as sitting for long hours can tighten your muscles. Stretch or do some light workout to loosen your muscles. You can also take walks inside the house or your gates, go to the terrace if you have the space to do so. But remember, do not go outside on the main streets.
Apart from this, it would also be highly beneficial if you can engage in meditation every day. Meditating for even 5 minutes every day can bring major shifts to your mood. You can also listen to some relaxing or ambient music during this period.
5. Shut off Distractions
As compared to an office environment where if we slack off, we are being observed, working from your own house is different. At home, you don’t have anybody to supervise or reprimand if you spend hours on your social media. And with a phone in hand, nobody knows how easily does time pass by. It’s possible that you may waste an entire day without getting some work done.
Therefore to make sure that something like that doesn’t happen, it would be good to shut off distractions. If it’s social media, you can either switch off your mobile internet or shut off notifications. If it’s a call not related to work with a friend, you can ask them to call you later.
6. Set Up Goals
This is to be followed strictly against your set of tasks and to-do lists. Write down your goal against each task and make sure to complete it. If it’s a daily goal, then assess at the end of the day if you can achieve it, and if not, what adjustments do you need to make. If the goal is long term, make sure to follow up on regular intervals and discuss the progress with your colleagues.
7. Spend Time With Your Colleagues Outside of Work Hours
Remember the coffee breaks and the water cooler chats with your colleagues? You can continue to do that virtually too. You can either schedule a time to talk with your work friends after work hours. Or you can just randomly call them up to chit chat and check in on them. This will maintain the relationship you had built with your colleagues. You can choose to discuss work or things absolutely unrelated to it. But make it a point that you stay in touch with them.
8. Know When to Clock Out
Probably the most important point in this list, you need to know when to log out. A big reason for employees suffering from burnout working from home is their inability to stick to a routine.
A fixed time to log in and out of work every day will give your workday a better sense of direction. Your body and mind will train itself to become productive during these hours. You can ask your family members to live with you to not disturb you during these hours so you can finish your work on time and clock out at the time you decided.
Here employers should also understand that just because employees are working from home doesn’t mean that they can be asked to do tasks at any hour of the day. Employers and employees both should respect the working hours decided beforehand and stick to it.
Knowing when to clock out will allow you to spend the rest of the time with your family or on activities you enjoy doing for yourself. It will help you achieve the bliss point of work-life balance.