As we all know, due to coronavirus the UK Government has recently told people to work from home wherever possible.
Now, working from home is the reality for many of us who previously worked out of it.
The Stada Media team are currently working from home and working to help businesses in any way we can through this difficult period. If your business needs some extra help, please get in touch.
Whilst it’s a privilege to have the stability of being able to continue working from home, when done long-term it often brings new challenges.
This is especially true for people with children, who are all now at home in the day too if their parents are not key workers.
It’s a new challenge for everyone. However, whilst we cannot control some things, we can control how we look after ourselves as we navigate working from home life.
In this blog we’ll take you through some of the challenges of working from home and how you can combat them.
Challenge 1: Finding it harder to switch off
If your workspace and your private space are suddenly both under the same roof, it can become psychologically difficult to separate the two.
22% of remote workers say switching off after work is their biggest challenge.
And it’s no surprise – it’s so easy to quickly go back to your laptop and check a few more emails or do a little more work on that project if you’re just sitting around after dinner anyway.
But these little decisions will blur the lines between your work-life balance even more, making working an all-consuming experience.
Solution: Set strict boundaries – and stick to them
If you’re that person who ‘doesn’t mind’ doing a bit more work into the evening, when you don’t have to, notice how it might be taking its toll on your mental wellbeing.
Are you thinking about work, or actually working, too much? Is it spilling over into the weekends or your family time? You might have been on a trip out and just couldn’t fight that itch to reach into your pocket and check your emails.
Sometimes when we overwork, its negative effect is not always immediate.
It’s time to set some boundaries.
Physical boundaries when working from home
First, if you can, set some physical limitations. If you work in a study at home, shut the door and even lock it after you’ve finished work. This will ward off the temptation to go back in when you walk past the open doorway and see your computer sitting there, temptingly.
If you don’t have a study, if you can, try to keep your workspaces out of more relaxing places like your bedroom.
As a result, these physical boundaries will naturally help with your mental ones.
Mental boundaries when working from home
If your team communicates over a messaging app like Slack, others may continue discussing work after you have ‘clocked off’.
In addition, mute your notifications for a certain timeframe – for example, 6pm to 8am – to allow yourself some mental time off from work talk.
Even if you’re not working, even just reading messages about it will put you back in that space. This will make it harder to properly relax before starting work again.
Find your outlet
Lastly, make sure you have plenty of things to do in your spare time that will allow you to switch off.
Many people’s problem is that they work so much, they struggle to find a fun or relaxing outlet for when they do have time to themselves.
If you struggle with your mental health, it’s easier said than done. However, finding enjoyable things to do that stretch beyond the usual pastimes at home (such as watching Netflix) can have a real positive impact on your wellbeing when you return to work.
If you find it hard to find these outlets, start with small steps. Think about what makes you happy, what you’re good at, and what’s easy for you to fit into your lifestyle.
Challenge 2: Feeling cooped up
People need fresh air. It’s a simple essential that many don’t pay enough attention to, even if they have the privilege to enjoy clean open spaces.
When working from home, it’s possible to get mentally sucked into what you’re doing without enough thought for how you’re looking after yourself.
But just because your street and neighbourhood have become part of your mental wallpaper, a place you pass through to and from work, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore them.
A 2017 United Nations report found that 41% of remote workers reported high stress levels, compared to just 25% of office workers.
When you’re at home it might not come to mind so immediately to take a quick walk around the block or crack open a window.
However, over time, breathing in the same inside air can make feelings of stress and anxiety physically worse.
Solution: Get fresh air every day
In the current climate of coronavirus where the opportunity to go out to busy public parks for fresh air has gone temporarily out the window, it’s now essential to continue getting your fresh air closer to home.
If you have a garden or yard, make it a habit to step outside in the morning, on your breaks or after work.
As well as the fresh air you’ll be breathing in, the simple change of scenery from your computer screen will inject something new into your day. After all, nature is ever-changing.
Going for walks
Beyond this, or if you don’t have an outside space to yourself, try to go for frequent walks to keep your body moving. Again, the scenery will change and you’ll be getting important exercise.
Challenge 3: Loneliness
Working requires concentration, and concentration often requires solitude.
For introverts, this can work a treat. For the more extroverted, it can take its toll. Yet even introverts may eventually feel the pangs of loneliness when working alone all day, every day.
It’s important to remember that a home worker is also most likely a lone worker. 19% of remote workers say that they struggle with loneliness when working remotely.
Coupled with the daily stresses of work, working alone can make you feel more helpless if you don’t have someone to talk to.
Solution: Make a routine for keeping in touch
The important thing to practice is balance.
Work in a distraction-free zone when you need to, but notice when you’re lacking social interaction that might give you a boost to carry on.
An easy way to maintain this balance is calling a loved one in your breaks. Alternatively, if possible, arrange occasional ‘co-working’ video call sessions with another remote worker.
Some days you might want to be alone, but some days, simulating the office atmosphere by working alongside another person virtually can make your day go by easier.
More simply, ensure you’re keeping in touch with people on weekends – in an extended period of time off, it’s easy to sink into a routine of isolation.
Working from home can take some adjusting to, especially if it’s full time.
However, remembering self-care is crucial in such a limiting time as this.
If you pay specific attention to taking care of yourself, your work will remain just as productive and might just get better.
We hope you’re looking after yourself and staying safe in this tough time.
If you have an itch for more advice, head to the Stada Media blog where you’ll find our video and marketing musings, all in one place.