Before 2019, working from home, or your garage, kitchen, or outdoors sounded like a playful gesture or as some may want to put it, “unprofessional”. To say that now sounds odd or outdated, right? However, before Covid 19 caused a pandemic panic, people did not know how else to cope outside the office space. Of course one of the major reasons was to keep everyone safe but also, to keep companies in business and not go broke. Remote working has now opened our eyes to innovations, technologies, norms, and conducts that are shaping the world we live in today.
There has never been such a time when people value mental health more than now. In fact, according to a survey by The American Institute of Stress, “job stress is far and away from the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated progressively over the past few decades. Increased levels of job stress as assessed by the perception of having little control but lots of demands have been demonstrated to be associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension, and other disorders”, supporting that most causes of anxiety from adults are associated with work. Workplaces have been nurturing many toxic tendencies, at times without knowing such the freedom or peace one feels when working from home is unexplainable…but I will try.
Normally, many people are suffocated by work and deadlines and cannot wait for a holiday, leave days or to take a vacation and get some air. It’s unbelievable how many facades or smiley suits people wear to work whilst deep down they are depressed and cannot share with anyone because one should “never mix business with personal issues.” This has been an act of ignorance without an appreciation of how the way we treat or take care of ourselves impacts the way we treat the next person, our colleagues, or clients.
Remote working is only a matter of discipline. Many are starting to realise that it’s not the long hours that matter but attending to deliverables. Instead of work, work, work, we can now focus on results, results, results. You can go take a swim whilst you upload your Dropbox or mail; take a walk whilst listening to a staff meeting update, take your laptop in the sun if the room is too cold, or listen to your favourite playlist when seeking motivation. Having fun whilst working should not be making bosses cringe as if serious-looking faces represent better ideas. A happy mood is good. People should enjoy what they do, it’s all a part of wellness.
Previously, we would think it was a luxury to go and meet a client outside the office, for a cup of coffee, golf, or a horse ride. This is still remote working! Nurturing relations at work is a good way of building relations. Fostering partnerships is not always about being behind a desk disguised under “professionalism”. Working on projects itself should feel like an adventure. Others say if you take care of your workers, they will take care of the clients. Jimmy Goodnight said, “Treat your employees like they make a difference and they will.” It’s that simple, we need to feel at “home” in workplaces because this is where people spend more than 50% of their day. If I am depressed at work, it means I am depressed for more than half of my life or day.
Here are some points to keep you in check when you are remote working, hybrid, or considering it:
- Create a schedule.
Creating a schedule is very important in the office and outside the office. It can get tedious outside the office because we all have access to different places, environments, and countries at the same time. Scheduling allows for the prioritisation of tasks and knowing where you must be at a particular time. You can try using Asana or Outlook or Google calendar. This works for me better.
- Establish a dedicated workspace.
Of course, there was mention of making your workspace feel like home, which is okay but this space needs to be dedicated for just that. Let everyone in the house know that is your work room, workspace, or corner. A decent desk and chair will do. You can design your office at home the way you want to. Others have resorted to working from their bed but guess what this does, makes you sleep because that is what the bed was intended for. Think about it, you get to design your desk the way you want, with your theme and a little plant on the desk if you like nature.
- Work in small blocks of time.
This is important to keep track of time when working from home. Remember, being busy does not mean progress. Having a lot on your desk or laptop does not imply you are working hard. It is all about deliverables. Know what you are doing in the next 30 minutes, and how long you are taking a break for a good jam or lunch. Keep the balance.
- Limit distractions and interruptions.
People are different. Know what kind of personality you are. The best work space without distractions can only be defined by you, taking note of the environment you prefer. Others prefer a totally quiet environment, some do not mind a little music whilst others mix the two. If anything is shifting your focus, get rid of it during your working hours.
- Challenge yourself.
Tell yourself what you want to achieve by the end of the day, week or month. Task yourself with the changes you want to see and see them through. Where you need help, ask for it. Take note, that teamwork is very important during remote work. One of the advantages of teamwork is that it will keep you grounded as well.
- Practice good self-care.
Now you can get yourself a snack or coffee in your own time! As long as you are not on a video call, you can also do your skincare routine. Many mistaken working from home to emailing employees anytime, including after hours. Boundaries, people. Boundaries.
- Experiment with different strategies.
This is new to us all. Find out what works for you. Ask your colleagues how they are managing as well and you can adapt to what seems great to take home.
- Practice regulating your emotions.
Working out of the office can also be stressful especially if you have not considered all we have spoken about. The good part is no one can see your angry or sad facial expression so you are allowed to recess and compose yourself. At times it is just a bad day, not a bad project or task. Other colleagues can decide to have a meeting outdoors just to catch up and make sure everyone on board is on track. Human interaction does help in making us reconnect to our friends, purpose, and emotions. Whatever line of work you are doing, keep giving it your best!
Now, why is remote working the new normal? As highlighted, there is freedom from toxic work environments; you are home, what could go wrong? you can take a break when you feel brain drained; spend more time with family; saves office resources and bills; promotes broader networking; enables one to have more than one job at once; good for mental health and teaches discipline and deliverables.
In this world where we are global citizens and have become interconnected a lot, there is a need to embrace new ways of operation, as long as we all understand the aspect of boundaries and what we want to achieve.