What has your average remote workday become? Do you nail it every time with a solid routine? And after work, can you make time to chat with friends, take a nice walk, and have a quiet dinner with family?
Or, are you in a rut, with barely enough energy to roll out of bed and go through the motions of getting work and other responsibilities done?
According to Global Workplace Analytics, teleworkers are 15% to 45% more productive compared with their office counterparts. Statistics also show that remote work increases employee satisfaction, reduces turnover rates, and produces substantial savings for companies.
However, remote work can also be tasking on your mental and physical well-being. If you’re chained to your desk all day, you might find yourself craving in-person interactions and being able to step outside of home to get a little active and breathe the fresh air. And if that doesn’t already drive you crazy, throw in pandemic-induced stress and anxiety. With all these factors, it’s no surprise that both productivity and motivation can suffer.
Before we explore some possible solutions, let’s dive into these issues a little more. If you’re a teleworker, how exactly can remote work affect your well-being? This is important, so see if you can relate…
The Pitfalls Of Working Remotely – How Do You Stack Up?
You probably already know that one of the biggest challenges of remote work is maintaining a healthy work-life balance. If your home is your office, you’re “at work” for well over eight hours. As a result, you may often feel the urge to check your work email even after your shift has ended.
Another potential issue is that you may frequently get distracted by other people at home! Whenever you get interrupted, your productivity drops, and on average, it takes 25 minutes to return to the original task.
Next, with fewer face-to-face interactions, you may suffer from loneliness. In fact, almost 20% of remote workers do. And considering that we’re still amid a pandemic, you may feel less inclined to use up your vacation days. This can lead to frustration because you know you’re missing out on an opportunity to truly recharge, but feel like you may have no choice.
Finally, you may struggle to stay motivated when working from home. The informal setting and perhaps strong associations of home as a place to relax can be hard to get over. Without the environmental cues of a traditional office space, finding inspiration to stay on top of tasks can be a big challenge.
Six Ways To Manage Well-Being When Working Remotely
With the right strategies, remote work can be much more productive and much less stressful. Minimizing distractions and taking steps to satisfy our emotional and intellectual needs is vital.
Here’s what you can do to optimize performance and motivation when working from home.
1. Adopt A Growth Mindset
A growth mindset can help you embrace challenges, change your perception of your results and increase your desire to learn. When you shift focus from intelligence or fixed abilities to your sincere efforts doing a task, motivation naturally follows. Embracing a growth mindset helps you persevere even amid challenging obstacles.
What To Do
- Keep a diary of your achievements. Record how hard you worked to achieve a particular goal or complete a task. Explore and analyze what you could do differently next time.
- Regularly praise your team for hard work and effort. If you’re a manager or team leader, acknowledge sincere effort and celebrate successes! Your employees or subordinates will appreciate it and feel even more motivated to work hard
2. Commit To Physical Or Mental Exercise, Or Both
Any form of physical or mental exercise can have a positive effect on your well-being. Even a 10-minute brisk walk can be beneficial in boosting your energy levels, mood and mental alertness. Regular exercise can reduce anxiety and stress, and improve self-esteem. At least 30 minutes of aerobic activities 3 to 5 times a week can enhance mood after just 10 weeks.
You can also practice mental exercises to improve focus and mindfulness as well as combat negative thoughts and emotions. For example, meditation can reduce anxiety and muscle tension, stop streams of jumbled thoughts, and help you think of stressful situations in more positive, empowering ways.
What To Do
- Take up a physical activity you enjoy and can commit to for a long time. Consider activities such as walking, cycling, gardening, walking your dog, playing with your cat, or doing a few yoga poses every morning.
- Start small. Include activity in your daily routine, even if you start with only 10 minutes per day.
- Increase activity over time. Try out different apps that offer a variety of ways to exercise, and track your progress to help you stay motivated.
- Make it fun. If you don’t like physical exercising, make it more pleasant by pairing it with activities you do enjoy, like watching a TV show or listening to a podcast or an audiobook.
3. Create A Sustainable Work Environment
An office space or a dedicated corner at home is essential for maintaining a work-life balance. It can be challenging to detach work activities from family time when working from home. Fortunately, a workstation can help establish boundaries between personal and work time. A distraction-free home office can enhance focus and productivity, and thus reduces stress levels.
What To Do
- If you live with someone else, talk to them about personal boundaries. Family members, roommates, and especially children need to understand early on how not being able to complete work-related tasks affects you.
- Set up a home office. Find a quiet room or a spot at home with good lighting. Make sure your chair is comfortable and your desk sturdy, or consider using a standing table.
- Consider an open schedule or a shared work time calendar. Be mindful of your colleagues’ time and how working from home might be affecting them, too.
- Don’t come near your workstation if you’re feeling under the weather. Working from home doesn’t mean you can’t take sick days. Forcing yourself to go to work when you’re sick can slow down recovery and leave you feeling drained.
4. Maintain Conversations With Family, Friends, Co-Workers
As we’ve already established, working remotely doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. Staying connected with others and engaging in conversations are critical to mental health. Deep conversations with friends and loved ones lead to greater satisfaction, but small talk also helps. A good social life is linked to longevity, decreased risk of depression and cognitive impairment, and a stronger immune system.
Conversations with other people can also enhance memory, improve cognitive skills, elevate mood, promote happiness, and boost overall physical and mental health. In-person communication works best, but even technology-assisted socializing can have beneficial effects.
What To Do
- Catch up with family and friends over video calls. Arrange daily or weekly calls with your social circles to stay connected.
- Hold regular short meetings with colleagues. Reach out to co-workers at least weekly, but don’t force prolonged meetings if there’s nothing to report or share.
- Look into social networking and language exchange apps. Use the opportunity to connect with people virtually, whether it’s an old high school friend or someone completely new. You can take your pick from numerous social platforms out there to nurture or rekindle relationships, or form new ones.
5. Take Up A Hobby That Involves Tactile Stimulation
Stimulating all your senses, especially touch, can help reduce stress, boost satisfaction, improve self-esteem, build self-awareness, and decrease the probability of developing neurocognitive disorders.
Sensory stimulation is vital both early in life and in adulthood. Doing something with your hands helps unleash creativity, lets you focus on the process rather than the result, and provides a sense of achievement. Creative activities can also be a form of meditation, as they often lead to deep thoughts and feelings.
What To Do
- Assess your living conditions and what you can do at home. Can you try baking, gardening, knitting, woodwork, painting, or something else?
- Be mindful of perfectionist tendencies. Whatever you do with your hands doesn’t have to be perfect. The process itself will prove satisfying, and you will get better over time.
- Look into local arts and crafts events. Explore local events you could participate in, such as painting groups for amateurs or something similar. This is also an opportunity to socialize and expand your social circle.
6. Audit Your Technology Use
Technology can be a life-saver, helping you stay connected and providing you access to valuable information. But if you’re using it too much or inefficiently, it can negatively affect your well-being and productivity. So, be sure to be mindful of your tech use so that you’re not sucked into virtual reality for hours non stop.
If you’re addicted to social media, beware. That can damage your self-image and lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. Auditing your app use can help you find a way to minimize distractions and the negative effects of social media on self-esteem.
Of course, technology isn’t all bad. Aside from its potential social and work value, certain apps can offer lots of educational value. You can access numerous skill-share resources, as well as boost your productivity by, for example, automating email spam filtering and reminding you of approaching events.
What To Do
- Implement a 7-to-7 rule. If possible, eliminate work-related calls or chats before 7 am and after 7 pm. Alternatively, find a happy medium considering your and your colleagues’ time zones.
- Have regular digital detox days. If you can switch off from technology at least once a week, you could improve your relationships, sleep quality, and overall well-being. A weekend away with your partner or family would be an ideal time to disconnect.
- Be conscious of how you use technology. Make a list of all the apps and devices you use, how often you use them, and what for. Check out tutorials to see if you know about all your technology’s functions and features so you can optimize its use. Get rid of tech that brings you no value or that’s non-essential for your work or daily life.
Working from home doesn’t have to take a nasty toll on your physical and mental health. We’ve outlined strategies to help you work with not only with greater sanity but also maybe even greater meaning and joy.
A crucial point in managing your well-being with remote work is creating healthy habits in your day-to-day life, especially with technology:
- Start with setting up your home office. It should be a quiet space with good lighting, a work desk, and a comfortable chair.
- Minimize distractions. Make sure your work life and your home life don’t interfere with one another.
- Plan your communication. Schedule meetings with co-workers and video calls with family and friends to stay connected and up to date.
- Set yourself up for success. Adopt a growth mindset and focus on hard work and progress.
- Nurture your body and your mind. Commit to daily physical and mental exercises, and explore activities and apps you might enjoy.
- Create something with your hands. Take up a hobby that involves tactile stimulation, such as painting, woodwork, gardening, baking, knitting, etc.
- Be mindful of your technology use. Monitor your tech use, delete any apps that don’t provide value, and do an occasional digital detox by unplugging for a day.