The work-from-home concept is far from new. But recent technological innovations have made it easier than ever to ditch the office in favor of Slack messages and Zoom conferences. Today, the public health crisis surrounding COVID-19 has brought remote work to the fore. As employers close offices and opt to work remotely instead, a growing number of employees find themselves working from home for the first time ever.
Whatever the reason (be it pandemic-related, or simply a lifestyle change), adjusting to an office-free life can present a challenge. Solopreneurs and freelancers can attest that working from home has its pros and cons. If you’re someone who thrives on the energy of a bustling office, spending eight hours hunched over a laptop in your studio apartment can feel isolating, lonely, or even downright depressing. But it doesn’t have to! Keep reading for seven wellness tips to help you feel better while working from home.
1. Dress for Work
Wake up, shower if you’re a morning showerer, get dressed, and eat breakfast. Begin the day as you would any other. But most importantly, get out of your pajamas! Spending the day in the clothes you slept in is the quickest way to trick your brain into thinking it’s Saturday when it’s really Monday. The saying goes: ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have.’ It can be a struggle to access that get-up-and-go mentality when you’re working where you also eat, sleep, bathe, relax, and unwind. Dressing for work sets a clear boundary between personal and professional, which can go a long way when it comes to setting the tone for your day. Also, if a video conference is on the docket, keep in mind that coworkers don’t want to see you in the tattered big t-shirt you got from your kid’s charity event in 2010.
2. Stick to a Schedule
Working from home offers a level of flexibility that may at first blush seem like the answer to your productivity prayers. But speaking from personal experience, that isn’t always the case. Without the structure of an active office and its atmospheric cues—coffee percolating, pre-meeting shuffles, exchanges with delivery people, coworkers eating lunch, etc.—it’s easy to lose all sense of time. Resist the temptation to start working early (or late) in order to make time for something personal. More often than not, starting work at 7:45 instead of 9:00 makes us feel like we deserve an online shopping break come 11:30. However, without the prying eyes of coworkers and supervisors, ten minutes of online shopping can easily become upwards of an hour, until the whole day gets away from you. So do your best to stick to a daily schedule. Whether you’re full-time remote or just working from home for a while, establishing a routine will help structure your day.
3. Spruce Up Your Workspace
Set yourself up for success by creating the best work environment possible. We’re talkin’ practical and ornamental. If you’re transitioning into working from home (and have time to prepare), make sure you have everything you need to be your most productive. Proper lighting, a comfortable place to sit, your favorite pens, maybe even a lap desk? A good setup will help eliminate distractions, while also making it easier to adjust to a new work environment. Try lighting a candle, or bringing flowers or an indoor plant into your home workspace. Whether you ‘have to’ or ‘get to’ work remotely, make it a privilege and a pleasure by zhuzhing up your home office and bringing the outside in.
4. Plan Around Productivity
When are you most productive? Maybe you’re someone who likes to get busywork out of the way before lunch. Or perhaps you have all of your best ideas by breakfast and run out of creative steam around noon. Still not sure? Working from home—away from imposed workplace scheduling—is a great way to figure out your most productive times and schedule your day accordingly. Yes, this is the second schedule-related tip. That’s because creating structure is such a crucial aspect of successful remote work.
5. Stay Active (However Possible)
Sure, working from home means no long commute. On the other hand, it also means your office is smaller, the bathroom is closer, and you don’t have to go far to fill up your water bottle. In other words: you’re moving a lot less. Don’t let the work-from-home lifestyle keep you sedentary. If possible, make sure to get out of the house at least once a day. Take a walk, get some fresh air—at the very least, give your eyes a break from the computer screen. If you’re unable to leave the house or going for a stroll is not an option, opt for 15 minutes of calming yoga at home. Moving your body will help you stay focused and productive when you return to your work.
6. Phone a Friend
Anyone who’s ever worked remotely can tell you that there’s nothing quite so sobering as looking up from your laptop at 4:00 PM and realizing you haven’t spoken to a single person all day (no, Slack messages don’t count). Modern life can be isolating enough already. Remove the forced interaction of the workplace, and you’ve got a recipe for loneliness. Remember: there’s no need to go all day without a single human conversation. Taking ownership of your interpersonal interactions is a great way to feel connected when you work remotely.
7. Clock Out
Working from home doesn’t—read: shouldn’t—mean always working. If your office workday typically begins at 9:00 AM and ends at 6:00 PM, then your home workday should do the same. One of the great things about working in an office is leaving at the end of the day. Unfortunately, we don’t have the same luxury at the end of a long day of remote work. Evening rolls around and you turn on a reality show, make yourself some dinner, and before you know it, you’re glued to your laptop sending some ‘last-minute emails’ or adding the ‘finishing touches’ to a proposal. Be mindful of this 24-hour workcycle trap, and take steps to keep the workday from becoming a worknight.
Whatever your reason for taking the office home, keep in mind that remote work has its own set of unique pros and cons. Make sure you have everything you need, and be mindful of what to expect. At the end of the day, work is work, wherever you are. Take care and stay well out there, LIV fam!
Written by Cleo Gold