More and more people are now working from home and in some industries or workplaces, this could be a permanent shift. While working from home can be great in many ways, it can also be really tough. Below we outline some of the key areas to consider and improve on when adjusting to working from home:
- Create work/life boundaries through physical separation or daily rituals
- Combat loneliness by providing opportunities for social connection
- Avoid Zoom fatigue
- Create open communication with employees so you’re aware of their specific challenges.
Share with your colleagues and employees today to help everyone improve their WFH experience and mitigate potential risks to their health and wellbeing.
Create clear boundaries between work-life and home-life.
When working from home, the lines between work-life and home-life become very blurred, so creating boundaries is vital. These boundaries can be physical, such as setting up a separate space in your home designated for work, and never bringing work into your bedroom. Or they can be ritualistic boundaries, such as beginning each day with exercise and a coffee before even glancing at your emails. For those who have their desk set up in their bedroom, be sure to turn your computer off at the end of the day, or cover your workspace with a sarong or cloth so it’s out of sight, out of mind when you’re going to bed. And while it’s tempting to stay in your pyjamas all day, having a
shower and getting dressed is a clear separation between work life and personal time, and can be used to help mentally separate the two. It’s easy to let these things slide, but that’s when work stress can seep into your personal life, impact your sleep and lead to burn out.
Combat feelings of isolation and loneliness
When working alongside colleagues, there are countless opportunities for interaction and connection, which can get lost when working from home. Staying connected with colleagues, both professionally and socially, will help remote workers avoid loneliness and isolation. In these difficult times, managers should allow (and even encourage) social interaction between colleagues via online chats, forums or virtual social events. Providing employees with opportunities to interact and share their experiences of working from home can also reduce the stress and mental burden of feeling like you’re struggling on your own.
That said, there is a flipside to staying connected when working remotely. You may have heard the phrase ‘Zoom fatigue’ floating around; the exhaustion many people get from constant videoconferences (1). Too much online interaction can be incredibly draining, especially for people who are more introverted, or already have a house full of children or housemates. To prevent Zoom fatigue, try to schedule breaks between each online meeting and make any online social events opt-in. Managers may need to explicitly have these discussions with employees to find out what communication methods work best for them, based on their personality or household situation. This brings us to the next point: communication is key.
Facilitate clear communication between managers and employees
Open discussions are the best way to manage and prevent any potential mental health risks that arise when working from home. As a manager, it’s important to be mindful that not everyone’s homelife is productive, and some people live in extremely difficult or stressful situations. Speak with employees about any extra challenges they may face while working from home. An employee will be the best judge of what issues may arise for them while working from home and how they would like to navigate these. Seemingly simple things like not having access to a quiet space can impact someone’s stress levels and wellbeing in the long-term. When it’s feasible to do so (depending on Government restrictions), these employees may need the option of coming back to the office for a few days or having access to a co-working space.
Remember, how someone is coping with working from home will change over time. With Mental Health Awareness Month coming up in October, it’s the perfect time to check in with your staff. Ask if there’s anything they need from you to make their work-life better, less stressful, and more productive as they adapt to working from home.
We’re here to help – Connect staff through our Adapting to WFH online workshop
In response to the Covid-19 crisis, we have developed a series of online workshops addressing specific issues that may arise in the current climate. Thriving at Home: Adapting to Your New Work Environment is a program designed for organisations whose staff are now largely working from home. This online workshop brings staff together for a facilitated discussion where challenges and concerns can be addressed, and new frameworks developed to enhance productivity and positivity while working remotely.
To find out more, visit our website or call us on (02) 8007 7474.
1. Fosslien, L., & Duffy, M. W. (2020). How to combat zoom fatigue. Harvard Business Review.