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There’s no denying that working from home has its advantages; greater flexibility, the ability to wear comfy loungewear and the lack of commuting. From a corporate point of view, it also comes with many benefits such as reduced office costs, increased staff retention and access to a wider talent pool. However, remote working certainly comes with its challenges for workers, and those challenges shouldn’t be underestimated.
Prior to COVID-19, only 5.2% of those in employment regularly worked from home, and less than 30% of those in work had ever worked from home before. However, with social distancing measures being put in place as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, 49.2% of adults in employment are now working from home. Many of us that are now working remotely are not prepared or well practised for doing so; which can make the process challenging. It’s important to remember, and communicate with all employees that we are not simply working from home, we are trying to work at home during a pandemic; there is a difference. The advice in this post will help employers and/or employees to help both themselves and others manage their stress levels better whilst working remotely.
Working from home perks aside, what actually makes remote working stressful?
With that in mind, what can be done to help to reduce stress whilst working remotely during this time?
As we briefly discussed above, one of the main things that makes work stressful is the lack of a real work-life balance. It can be difficult to switch off from work, and not check emails outside of work hours. In fact, 22% of telecommuters say that switching off after work is their greatest challenge. At this time, it’s not unusual to scrutinise your productivity in the day, which can leave you tempted to work late into the evening. You need to try and work just as you would in the office, to avoid putting extra stress and pressure on yourself. If you work 9-5 in the office, try and do the same hours at home, to create a routine and make a clear distinction between you-time and work-time.
The lack of social interaction with a team can be difficult; 19% of remote workers say that they struggle with loneliness when working remotely. To help avoid this problem, make sure that you stay in regular contact with your team – from both a work and a personal point of view. Take some time to catch up on projects, what you’ve got planned in for the week and bring up any ideas you’d like to brainstorm. Remember to schedule some time for non-work related conversations too – even something as simple as what you’re having for tea will help. Staying connected helps to alleviate loneliness and add a sense of normality back into your day, something we will all benefit from at the moment.
As well as sticking to regular working hours, remember to take breaks away from your screen when you need them. Take some time out to take your eyes off your screen, refresh your mind and stretch out your body. Remember that as humans we work best by taking short, regular breaks. Taking a 5-10 minute break after an hour of activity usually works well; leaving you feeling refreshed, allowing you to work with greater focus when you get back to it.
Knowing your limits, and when to say no, is important both when working from home and in work. You need to be mindful to overexert yourself or take on more work than you can physically get done, as this will only leave you feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Share tasks with your team, just as you would if you were in the office. If you are a line manager, remember to regularly check in on your team’s workload, and ensure they are not overworking themselves. There are only so many hours in your working day – and that counts for working from home too. Don’t accept too much work that it will run into your personal time.
Sitting at a desk can be taxing on our bodies, let alone when you’re in the house you’ve been stuck in for months. Where you can, schedule some time in to get your body moving each day. Whether that’s a walk or jog around your local area, doing some yoga or an online fitness video – do what you’re comfortable with, and what makes you feel best. Exercise is great for taking your mind off the day, so it can be a great habit for making the transition in your mind from work mode to home mode.
If you are looking for high-quality health & wellbeing services for your staff, LycaHealth can help. You can choose from a range of popular packaged corporate wellness services or create your own mix of services for your employees. From employee mental health and wellbeing, to access to corporate GP services, we will work with you to put together a wellness package perfectly tailored to your needs.