The coronavirus outbreak means many people are suddenly remote working for the first time, and quite a few are already struggling psychologically. I’ve been doing it for over fifteen years. So here are my five top tips for working from home:
- Routines help. Make sure you change them on the weekend, though. Otherwise you’ll soon stop noticing that weekends exist. Build in some flexibility too, if possible. Work with the needs of your household, not against them.
- Stop telling yourself, “It’s only for three weeks” (or whatever the expected duration is in your region). It may be, but it may be longer. This is your new normal. Accept that, or however long it ends up being, it will seem a lot longer. Also, if it turns out to be longer, you’ll be more stressed about that. Don’t just sit there and fret — adapt.
- If you’re with others and tensions are flaring, again, learn to adapt. You can’t escape those tensions now, but that very fact is the perfect excuse to call a truce and work on improving your relationships. No, that doesn’t start with them, it starts with you, because you read this first. It takes two to fight, and two to make friends.
- If you’re alone, you’re not alone. Millions of us are. There is someone who cares about you, they’re just remote. We all take comfort in having friends, even when they’re remote. With the internet, video chat, phones and email, they’re less remote than ever before. It’s not ideal, but it’s not the worst. If you don’t have friends, those same channels will let you make some. Join an online community, and try. Even if you find it uncomfortable for a while, it will be good for you.
- You’ve got this.
Staying Healthy Working From Home
There’s plenty of excellent advice around about the physical health aspects of working from home. Follow it — but remember that mental health matters just as much.
Physical and mental health are directly connected. Stress undermines both your immune system and your sleep patterns. Mild exercise helps to counteract that, but doesn’t deal with the root of the problem — your “mind-game”. Get that right, and things become much easier.
Likewise, poor posture whilst you’re working increases tension in your muscles. You may not notice it for a while, but that will tire you out faster and increase stress. A sofa or “comfy” chair is not a good place to work from for long. Those are places you can go to take a break from work. Sort out a proper, separate workspace.
Adapt Or Struggle
A Post-Lockdown Update
Despite the UK lifting lockdowns, the pandemic isn’t over. Long COVID lingers. So can its mental health effects. So here’s a resource for helping with Lockdown Depression.
If you do struggle, remember that help is available, and just waiting for you to ask. There are a lot of services around, but here’s a useful guide to get you started.
Remember, working from home is more natural than commuting. We just haven’t been able to do it much for the past century or two. So now it’s different, but not inherently difficult.
Besides, the benefits for businesses that embrace home working are enormous. Employees are healthier, happier and more productive when working from home. Office costs can be massively reduced, as can the often-overlooked health and environmental impacts of a constantly commuting workforce.
So whilst not all jobs can be done from home, many firms who were previously reluctant to adapt are now seen huge cost savings from doing so. Working from home isn’t going away, and will become the norm in many sectors.
Finally, if current events are making you consider starting your own home-based business — or if you run one already — check out my post about Small Business Coronavirus Lockdown Help, too. I’m here for you.