Engagement & Wellbeing: 4 Tips for Adjusting to Work from Home
With numerous employers making the quick transition to a temporary remote work environment, some employees may feel vulnerable or unprepared for what may be an unfamiliar situation. The change from working in a central office to working remotely may feel a bit overwhelming, at first, so take it easy on yourself. You may feel mixed emotions -at times feeling isolated, frustrated, or unmotivated, and at other times, feeling energized, relaxed, and productive. All of these responses are normal - any work/life transition takes time. Just be thoughtful during the process and be mindful of what is and is not working for you.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Maintain aspects of your normal routine
Continue normal morning activities to get up and at ‘em. Whether it’s your morning coffee, exercise routine or something as simple as taking ashower and getting dressed, stick to these rituals to get yourself moving in the morning.
Keep up with your casual social interactions, but virtually. Check in with someone at the start and end of your day just as you would greet someone each day and say goodbye when leaving the office. Even if it’s through text or IM, take time for water cooler chat to ensure you’re staying connected with others on a personal level.
Extra check-ins with your team may be in order to support others and keep projects moving. Be sure to take advantage of any collaboration sites your organization may use such as Microsoft Teams or Slack. Use proper modes of communication. If something arises that you would normally walk to someone’s workstation to address, pick up the phone in lieu of email. Or send a text message to see if it’s a good time to connect. Be mindful of where you have your computer setup and what will be in the background during video conferencing.
Ask for feedback on things such as your approach to leading calls, audio/visual issues, response time for email and voicemail. This will help you make adjustments to work style as needed.
Set Boundaries and Expectations
Establish your workspace. Set up a space that you can dedicate to work. If you will have to do this in a multi-use area of the house, establish certain times of the day that are for work only, and adjust the aesthetics accordingly -even if that’s throwing a sheet over a pile of toys or swapping out a dining chair for a computer chair each day.
Establish your working hours. Even if this may vary a bit day to day, lay out your schedule for everyone in the household. Create your own “Do Not Disturb” or “Quiet Zone” sign for your space. Guard your personal time as much as your work time. It’s a common misconception that people spend less time working in remote situations. It’s a far more common trap for people to spend more time working because they do not power off as they do to physically leave an office and may be tempted to return to their workspace during the evening.
Take breaks throughout your day. It might feel odd to empty the dishwasher or take your dog on a 10-minute walk in the middle of the day, but realistically, you still need time to refresh and recharge like always. If you tend to lose track of time, simply set an alarm/timer on your phone for your breaks.
Be mindful of the ergonomics of your workspace. If you are just getting started, it’s likely that your chair is not ideal or that you’ve got to work with a computer angle or keyboard height that is less than ideal. Additionally, we are more relaxed at home and may be less conscientious of our posture. Take short movement breaks, stretch for five minutes an hour, or stand during phone calls.
While the first days of transitioning to a remote work environment can take some getting used to, by thoughtfully establishing a routine, enhancing communication, practicing discipline and self-care, and giving yourself grace, you are positioned to master this new skillset.