Remote working was already on the rise before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. But, throughout the pandemic, it became a necessity for thousands across the country. Now, many people (and businesses) are choosing to remain remote for the foreseeable future.
Working from home has plenty of benefits. It allows for more flexibility, can improve productivity, and be less stressful than an office environment.
But, there are some potential drawbacks. The “work from home blues” is a real thing, contributing to burnout, miscommunications, and an unhealthy work-life balance.
If you want a successful work-from-home job, it’s important to make your mental health a priority. With that in mind, let’s look at a few creative hacks that will help you beat the blues, increase productivity, avoid burning out, and take better care of yourself.
Change Your Environment
Your environment can have a huge impact on your mental health. One of the biggest reasons people burn out when they work from home is that they experience the same scenery every day. Having an office space to call your own is a good way to mitigate this, especially if you’ve been working in an open area of your home.
But, if you’ve already been working in a home office and you’re feeling uninspired, don’t be afraid to change things up. Go to your favorite coffee shop, a quiet park, or even step outside your house to sit on the porch for a while. Getting your work done outside can actually inspire creativity and make you more productive.
One of the perks of working remotely is that you can get your job done from almost anywhere. If you really need a change of scenery, consider taking a trip to a location you know will relax you. For example, being — and working — near the water can be incredibly calming. If you’ve been stressed over the events of the past year, taking a “working vacation” might be the change of scenery you need to beat the blues.
Find Ways to Take Breaks
If you were in an office setting, you’d probably take several breaks throughout the day. You might wander over to the water cooler, or join your co-workers in the break room for lunch. You might even take a few minutes at your desk to read through personal emails or check social media.
One of the biggest problems people working from home face is a lack of structure and routine. Because you’re in your house all day, it can be hard to determine when your workday ends and your personal life begins. That throws off your work-life balance and can impact your mental health and your family relationships.
You can combat that poor work-life balance by adding more structure to your day. That includes taking breaks several times while you’re working. Taking a long vacation might be even better (when it’s safe to travel), but taking a walk around the block is a good place to start. Breaks can help to:
• Reduce stress
• Fight fatigue
• Boost your mood
• Give you more energy
• Improve creativity
When you take breaks during the day, you’ll come back more motivated to get things done. As a result, you won’t have to extend your “work hours” into your evening, and you can enjoy some self-care or time with friends and family.
Talk to Your Boss
Whether you’re working from home or in person, expressing your needs to your employer is a must-do. Communication can sometimes be an issue when you’re working from home. While your employer should be taking steps to stay connected, it’s up to you to reach out if you’re struggling.
Some of the common causes of work-from-home burnout include:
• Feeling like you don’t have any control
• A lack of a structured schedule
• Unclear expectations
• Work that isn’t challenging
If you’re dealing with any of those issues, bringing them up to your employer can allow them to make changes to your workday. They might give you more structured projects or deadlines, and communicate tasks more clearly.
In light of the COVID pandemic, newer work-from-home issues have also started to arise. One of the more prominent problems is Zoom fatigue.
Zoom meetings have become the norm for many businesses across the country. Unfortunately, they can be exhausting. When you’re trying to stay active in a meeting on a screen, it’s easy to feel like it’s a waste of time or that there isn’t enough contribution. Try talking with your employer about how Zoom meetings can be made more interactive.
There are many ways both employers and employees can improve brainstorming sessions, such as documenting everything, including an agenda, and assembling as diverse a team as possible.
For many businesses, letting employees work from home is a new practice. It’s new for a lot of employees, too. So, cut your company some slack, but not at the expense of your wellbeing. If you’re struggling with the work-from-home blues, keep these healthy hacks in mind to stay productive and content in your career.