4 Ways to Manage Workplace Stress When Home is Now the Workplace
Try these methods for managing stress while working from home.
Last week, millions of Americans found themselves working from home for the first time. It’s a trend that Forbes described on March 1 as a “ watershed moment” and Business Insider on March 13 said could be “ here to stay.” The times they are a-changin’.
I have 12 months of remote-working experience under my belt already. I thought about what actions helped me manage the stress that came from working in a new environment, especially when that new environment was one I was also living in!
Things only work if you actually do them, so pick strategies that are right for you.
And I believe the methods below will be useful even after COVID-19 settles down. I’m betting that the percentage of Americans working remotely will increase by 30% in the year following these events, as those who find they prefer it will now have evidence to prove they are just as effective from home. Companies are also rapidly setting up remote-friendly infrastructure, and I believe the trend will stick.
But working remotely is still work. Now that it’s at home, how can you manage the normal workplace stressors while avoiding new ones?
1. Set your priorities.
Your job used to be the commitment you met in a completely separate location. Now everything is muddled together. There are distractions everywhere. Take a moment to categorize your other commitments and think about which will take priority when they inevitably come into conflict. Your kid wanting to play Fortnite together or your dog whining for a walk might not take precedence over your 2 PM conference call. But your spouse having a rare breakdown certainly might.
Clarify your priorities so you can attend to each event with the right amount of attention. It will give you assurance and make it easier to fully exhale at the end of the workday.
2. Find new ways to be healthy (and actually do them.)
Chances are this isn’t the first list of “stay healthy while working remotely” tips you have read. I don’t have anything new to add here. I will just emphasize that things only work if you actually do them, so pick strategies that are right for you.
For me, I need to remember to move. It doesn’t feel good to have my smartwatch telling me that I only stood up for 5 hours today or that I got less than 2000 steps. My solution: set a timer for every two hours to get up and refill my water bottle (hydration! Two birds, one stone!)…or get yet another snack. I try my best to fit in a socially distant walk around my neighborhood too.
3. Adapt to working productively.
If you’re not one of the 91% of remote workers that report they are more productive working from home, your mental health might suffer as your frustration to work productively grows. (For the record, I look at that self-reported statistic skeptically and also argue that those workers were probably prepared to work remotely. Regardless.)
Thanks to the bevy of remote workers who have come before, there are many, many, many guides that can help. Here’s a list of tools from Skillcrush. Here’s another from Zapier on gadgets and tech. I myself have onboarded my 30-person team to Microsoft Teams (now free as part of Microsoft’s response to COVID-19.)
Get creative and think about what’s best for you. I am used to working in an open environment and so to simulate the comforting babble of coworkers around me, I like to listen to cafe white noise.
4. Protect the sanctuary at all costs.
You know that feeling of returning home from work where you can finally exhale all of the office stress and go back to just being a partner-parent-friend-homecook-hobbyist-human? Protect that feeling. Do everything you can to recreate it even though there’s no longer an occasion to walk through the front door. It’s really easy to let the lines between work and life blur and then suddenly you are working more than you were when you were at the office!
Some ways to maintain the line? Work from a different room and don’t re-enter until the morning. Unplug from work devices or log out of work apps. Be clear about working hours with teammates. And for the love of all things good, don’t check your email.
This was Part 2 of COVID-19 Workplace Stress Management.
Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.