Working from home can bring with it many benefits, from productivity growth to flexibility improvements. However, it can be an isolating and even lonely experience, especially if you are new to it.
So, how can you look after your wellbeing when working from home? How can you create healthy boundaries between your work and personal life and stay mentally and physically healthy to be a productive and effective worker?
Here are nine tips to help you care for your health and wellbeing while working remotely.
- Maintain your regular routine. Humans are creatures of habit, so a regular schedule is important – set one and stick to it. If you are new to home working, try to adhere to your normal office routine as much as possible. Get up, get dressed and ‘arrive’ at your desk 5 to 10 minutes early to go through emails and create your daily task list. If you feel overwhelmed by your responsibilities, divide your day into smaller tasks so you can focus on one at a time. Then, when the working day is done, log off and focus on personal activities and priorities to avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
- Create a comfortable and clutter-free workspace. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to have a study or spare bedroom, you can still create a dedicated workspace. Whether it’s a desk in the corner of your bedroom or the end of the dining room table, keep this space free from clutter. Focus only on your work when you are in this space to create a physical and mental boundary between your professional and personal life.
- Be a home worker, not a lone worker. Communication really is the key to not feeling isolated or alone. If your manager or team have not already agreed preferred communication tools, then determine what works for you. Crucially, try not to have too many lines of communication open as this can prove distracting and overwhelming. Instead, select two or three communication tools and use them to keep in touch at regular intervals throughout the day. While most communication throughout the course of your day is about work, you could consider beginning and ending the day with a more personal conversation in order to stay connected with your colleagues while working remotely.
- Face-to-face is still best. Wherever possible, communicate with your colleagues via video chats. Face-to-face conversations help you feel more connected and are typically more engaging than conference calls. Just remember to dress appropriately and check your background to ensure you’re comfortable with what your co-workers will see on their screens.
- Take a break. Like any working environment, it is important to take the occasional break to let your brain and body relax. Take a 10-minute walk, do gentle exercises in your lounge room, make lunch or catch up with a friend over the phone. Short breaks will help give you the ability to refocus on your work tasks – ultimately supporting both your productivity and mental health.
- Maintain physical health. Eat well, sleep well and exercise well – these are the three cornerstones of good physical health and they should not be ignored just because you are working at home. Don’t skip breakfast, work through lunch or snack too often in between. Don’t compromise your sleep. Keep up physical activity, whether it’s by going for a walk around the block or using online exercise tutorials to guide you through a lounge room workout. Physical activity and regular mealtimes also serve as great ways to break up the day.
- Practice mindfulness. Many people find that mindfulness techniques help reduce their level of stress and improve their attention span. From deep breathing to making sure you focus completely on just one task at a time, spend some time exploring the benefits of these techniques.
- Ask for help. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, ask for help. Emotional reactions, from frustration over any technology issues to feeling isolated, are normal. Be aware of your feelings and rather than suppressing them, ask your manager for help. Your organisation’s Employee Assistance Program, if it has one, is also available for support. If not, could you reach out to a trusted mentor, friend or colleague?
- Remember to reflect. Here at Hays, we like to end each day of remote working with what we call a ‘win, learn and change’ team call. During this call, each team member shares a success from the day, something they learned during the day and something they are excited to change tomorrow. Even if you don’t have such a call with your team, it’s important to take a step back and reflect on your day. Recalling your successes and highlights while looking forward to the next day with optimism will help maintain your positive outlook.
Self-care when working from home is vital. By setting healthy boundaries and prioritising your mental and physical wellbeing, you’ll avoid falling into bad habits and will instead remain productive and motivated. You may even find yourself feeling happier and healthier.
About this author
Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director, began working at Hays in 1993 and since then he has held a variety of consulting and management roles across the business. In 2004 he was appointed to the Hays Board of Directors. He was made Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand in 2012.
Prior to joining Hays, he had a background in human resource management and marketing, and has formal qualifications in Psychology.
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