Remote work has taken the world by storm since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it doesn’t come without its own challenges. We cover 4 key strategies to help you adapt to an increasingly digitalised world.
For years now, many companies have resisted the modern push to allow employees to work remotely, most often owing to a lack of trust and perceived lack of control. At the beginning of 2020 – and in spite of the many benefits that come from remote work – the vast majority of employers still remained mired in traditional, on-site work methods and structures.
But then the coronavirus arrived, leading millions to work-from-home (WFH) seemingly overnight. Since then, many companies have come around to the immense value of having a WFH staff and have steered wholeheartedly into the remote work phenomenon, with industry-leading names such as Twitter and Shopify leading the revolution through their adoption of a permanent remote-work policy and numerous smaller enterprises quickly following suit.
If you yourself are working for a company that has made this shift, you’re likely to have found the transition to a fully remote office to be rather difficult at times. If this is the case, then here are a few recommendations to help make the shift to permanent remote work as smooth as possible. Let’s begin.
Set Up Routines
Routines may not feel necessary in the flexible world of remote work, but they remain an essential element to success nonetheless. A routine doesn’t just get you to work on time; it also provides things like motivation, focus, and momentum. A few routines to consider maintaining during remote work include:
• A morning routine to help you focus and get on track each day.
• A work routine that includes adequate time to check email and messages as well as focused work time.
• A “virtual commute” — i.e. downtime spent between work and tending to your personal life — to help you start and stop each workday.
By establishing a set of routines, you introduce stability and structure into your day on a regular basis, which is good for your productivity and even better for your mental health!
Take Breaks and Set Up Boundaries
Workplace burnout was already a common issue long before WFH employment became commonplace. Things like feeling out of control and an improper work-life balance can leave employees feeling tapped out at the end (or even the beginning) of the day, and lead to feelings of exhaustion, depression, reduced personal and professional accomplishments, and even insomnia.
Remote work can be even more dangerous in this respect, as it can be difficult to separate work from your home life. If this is the case, you can address your proclivity to overwork in isolation by:
• Creating a dedicated area of your home as the primary place where you work.
• Taking breaks regularly — it’s recommended you avoid working too long on a single task without something to break up the monotony.
• Purposefully unplugging from work when you’re finished by muting notifications and turning off all work devices.
By dedicating spaces to work and recreation, as well as taking breaks and unplugging, you give yourself a way to both mindfully engage and disengage with work each and every day.
Another important aspect of staying afloat when you’re working remotely is exercise. If you find that you’re sitting at your home office — or even worse, the kitchen table — for eight, ten, or even twelve hours each day, it’s absolutely essential that you take the time to get up and get moving.
This can take a variety of different forms. For instance, if you’re a gym rat, utilise the flexibility of your WFH situation to schedule in the best times to go to the gym. If you’re not naturally inclined to exercise, you can just head outside for a half an hour each day for a brisk walk or a gentle saunter around the block.
Even the simple act of going for a stroll in the great outdoors can have multiple positive benefits. For instance, exercising helps to release endorphins and reduce stress. Fresh air is also known to help improve productivity and doubles as natural aromatherapy that can calm your nerves.
Actively Work Against Depression
Depression is a common struggle for those who work at home. Things like loneliness and lack of communication can quickly spiral into bouts of depression and discouragement. If you’re feeling depressed due to your remote work scenario, it’s recommended that you fight back by following several of the pieces of advice already mentioned, such as getting exercise and keeping up daily routines.
In addition, it’s wise to regularly connect with your family and friends and talk about your struggles, both online and offline. It may also be a good idea to reach out to your boss privately in order to let them know about how you’re doing in isolation. This can be a great way to counter the threat of depression that often comes with a WFH scenario.
Making the Leap to Full-Time Remote Work
The question of whether or not remote work is truly here to stay will have to be answered in the months and years ahead. In the meantime, it’s important for those who are working fully remotely for the foreseeable future to make the most of their individual situations.
Setting up routines and boundaries, getting exercise, and watching out for depression are all excellent ways to set yourself up for long-term remote work success — even if you feel the whole WFH deal isn’t your cup of tea.