In the last decade, more people have been working remotely than ever before. The added flexibility offered by remote work is attractive to many with our busy modern lifestyles. The benefits of remote working are far-reaching.
However, remote working has its challenges too. A 2019 study found that 40 percent of remote workers felt as though they were expected to contribute more while working away from the office. On the whole, it can be a huge adjustment, especially if you’re used to a busy office. It’s easy to feel isolated and cut off from colleagues if the social element of work is stripped away. Many find themselves working more hours as the boundaries between work and life start to blur. One study found that when polled, 22% of remote workers say unplugging after work is their main struggle.
So if you’re exploring remote working for the first time, it’s crucial that you take steps to focus on your mental and physical wellbeing to maintain a healthy work-life balance and ultimately be at your best in every aspect of your life.
With the dramatic impact that Covid-19 has had on the number of people working from home and the limits still imposed on everyday life, it is more important than ever before that we prioritise wellbeing when working from home. As lockdown restrictions are starting to be eased worldwide and we start to adjust to the ‘new normal’, some people will find themselves working remotely more than they were before, as businesses discover the benefits of remote working.
Setting an alarm and making sure you get up, dressed and have breakfast can help you develop a new routine. It’s important to treat your day like a work day from the start to help you get in the right frame of mind.
It’s important that you create a space for yourself where you feel you can concentrate and where you will be comfortable for the day. If you work at a computer, make sure the screen and keyboard are at the right height, otherwise you’ll soon develop back issues. A comfortable chair is also key.
Even though most remote workers (84%) will work from home, remote work doesn't always have to take place in your home. You might be the type who likes to go to a coffee shop where the buzz of people in the background helps keep you motivated. You might want to find a quieter atmosphere and discover that your local library has desk space. There are also lots of shared work spaces available which are set up for remote workers. These can be great options for when you need to get out of the house.
We’re all different, react differently to our surroundings and stimuli. The important thing is to work out what works for you. If you’ve previously struggled to get work done in a busy open-plan office, perhaps you need to seek out a quieter, calmer atmosphere. If you hate silence, perhaps the gentle background chatter in a cafe will suit you better.
Don’t work in a space where you like to relax, like on the sofa. And absolutely do not work in bed.
When working from home or working remotely, flexible hours may be an option, and can seem rather appealing. But setting working hours is very important for developing a routine and making sure you are putting in the work hours whilst retaining a healthy work / life balance.
If your lifestyle doesn’t allow you to keep regular hours, time tracking software such as Harvest or Clockify might help you stick to your hours. Having a record of how long certain tasks take can also be used to boost your productivity and can be especially helpful for freelancers with multiple clients who need to organise their time carefully.
One of the things that many people struggle with when they first start working remotely, is the lack of direct social contact. Make sure you stay in contact with your team as much as you can, potentially scheduling a regular video call at the beginning of the day or at least once a week. This will be more beneficial than an email or a chat message and will help you feel more connected with colleagues and whatever you’re working on.
Make sure you stop for lunch. If you’re working in your home, take advantage of the fact that you have your kitchen at your disposal and don’t have to rely on the dodgy work microwaves. If you can, plan ahead, there’s nothing worse than going to the fridge after a long morning of work to find you have no lunch.
It’s also important to step away from your screen or your work for a proper break. Don’t be tempted to eat at your desk. Try and do something completely different from your work on your lunch break. If you stare at a screen all day, pick up a book for 20 minutes or get some fresh air. Also, don’t forget to stay hydrated!
Introducing regular exercise into your routine can have a whole host of benefits, both mentally and physically. This could be anything from a daily walk before you start work, to going to the gym. Some remote workers use the time they would usually have spent commuting. This can be especially beneficial in the mornings as it creates a definite break between getting out of bed and starting work. If you can get outside, connecting with nature can be great for your mental wellbeing.
It’s important that you physically leave your office space at the end of your working day or you will struggle to mentally. This might be as simple as just shutting the door of your home office behind you. If you don’t have an office space and for example, set up your workspace in the living room, make sure you shut everything down and put as much away as possible. If you can see a stack of work in the evening while you’re watching TV or eating dinner, it’s going to be much harder to wind down.
You might want to add an element to your routine here so you completely switch your focus. Perhaps it’s time to go for a run or work on your hobby.
If you are struggling with your mental health, find out more information like how to speak to your employer here.