The Golden Key Working From Home Survival Guide
There is this idea that working from home is easy. Between being in the comforts of your own home and not having to commute anymore, this might be true. But Bond University assistant professor Libby Sander suggests otherwise in an article about the challenges of working from home. Among them are isolation and loneliness, stress, and distractions at home. So, no, it isn’t entirely a walk in the park.
That’s why you need this survival guide to help you stay productive while working from home… without breaking down either physically or mentally.
- Delineate the professional from the personal
Ironically, it’s much easier for work to seep into your personal life when you’re working at home. Wired explains that there’s no distinction as to whether you’re at work or not in work-from-home setups, as both exist “on the same continuum.” Your home is your office, which means it can be hard for you to switch off without specific cues, like clocking out or leaving the office. As a result, you work needlessly long hours, which can lead to fatigue, or worse, burnout. So, set clear boundaries to delineate professional time and personal time. The simplest thing to do is set specific work hours or stick to the work hours prescribed by your employer. Then, log off from all your work-related accounts (i.e., email, Slack, etc.) and shut off everything.
- Create the right environment
Last month, we explained to our Golden Key members the importance of creating a good environment in making work-from-home arrangements actually work. Put simply, you’ll need to create a pleasant and effective home office if you want to be productive in this setup. That starts with creating a dedicated work area — ideally a desk with adequate natural light where you can set up your laptop and put all your work supplies. Dressing the part and being professional are also crucial, and that means getting up every day at a reasonable time and then getting dressed in sensible clothing (i.e., not in pajamas and flip-flops). These adjustments are the “little things,” but doing them will positively impact your attitude, and, by extension, your productivity.
- Take breaks — your body and mind will thank you for it
One thing that tends to get overlooked, or even ignored, in work-from-home setups is taking a break. That’s mainly due to the lack of cues signaling break times like colleagues heading out for lunch, ‘water-cooler’ chats, etc. Failure to take breaks will mean you will be working long hours without a rest, and it will eventually take a physical and mental toll on you. So, make it a point to truly pause from work. Eat lunch when it’s lunchtime, and grab snacks when it’s snack time. Stand up and have a stretch, or go for a five-minute walk. Take a power nap if you need it, or play a game. In other words, do whatever you need to do to recharge.
- If it gets too much — seek professional help
Working from home can cause lots of stress, with a United Nations study of 15 countries finding that 41% of highly mobile employees are stressed out. This is unsurprising considering the aforementioned challenges of isolation, lack of boundaries, and distractions. It is these findings that are changing how specialists in the field, particularly those in higher education, consider mental health and employment. Online psychology professors from Maryville University are pushing the importance of clinical studies to better understand different aspects of human behavior in social contexts. One part of this is the strong connections between a person’s mental health and their ability to work, which has become even more important due to recent events. This connection is being discussed by psychologists, with Dr. Angela Carter and Dr. Cary Cooper advising those who work from home to protect their mental health by connecting with others, shutting off once in a while, and adding a creative pursuit or two to their routine.
Find what works for you
For all the challenges working from home presents, its advantages are undeniable: staying at home, flexibility of schedule, no commutes, and less expenses, among other things. However, the onus is on you to make this setup work, and following the above tips will help you do that. On a final note, it’s crucial that you practice healthy habits, too, like eating healthy, getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and exercising. These practices will improve your wellbeing, and help you be productive while working from home.
This article was written for Golden Key by Patty Gilmore.