Is it time to say goodbye to working from home? Not necessarily. Alternative work spaces remain popular with companies taking advantage of the lower cost of having their employees work from home and with people who prefer to continue working remotely. According to Forbes, “25% of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022, and remote opportunities will continue to increase through 2023.” More than ever, we need to create a space for success at our remote workplaces that prioritizes our mental and physical well-being. Here are some suggestions on how to do that.
Keep Your “Relax Space” and “Work Space” Separate
Creating spaces where you can work and spaces where you can relax helps keep your house from being a dreaded place where your work follows you everywhere you go. “A designated workspace lets you know that your time spent there is only for work,” training your brain to focus on the tasks of the day. Having a designated space also helps those around you know when you shouldn’t be disturbed. Your “workspace” doesn’t have to be solely within your house, either. It can be anyplace you feel productive, such as a café, library, or university.
Have Structured Breaks
Taking breaks during the day can help you avoid burnout and other health issues. It’s important that these breaks are structured within your schedule to keep your workday running smoothly. How you use your break is also something to consider. Are you taking your break while still sitting at your desk? Are you stepping away from your laptop only to look at your phone? Try to use these breaks not only to give your eyes a break from the screen but also to move your body, increasing your serotonin levels. Consider making a “break playlist” of your favorite songs, timed to match your allotted break and to get you moving without the dread of a regular timer.
Consider your sleep patterns and what you eat throughout the day that may contribute to lethargy. “The National Sleep Foundation recommends that most adults get between 7 and 9 hours of [uninterrupted] sleep each night.” Whether you are eating out or making something in your kitchen, choose foods that will sustain your energy levels. Some foods that provide energy are eggs, oatmeal, bananas, shrimp, and sweet potatoes, among others. And of course, stay hydrated—drink water!
Connect with Others
Working remotely can lead to feelings of isolation, negatively affecting your mental health. Having plans that include socializing and collaborating with others can increase your sense of community and further your professional development. Expand your network and strengthen current relationships with coworkers through social media outlets such as LinkedIn and Facebook groups and by following people in your related field on Twitter. Virtual events also give you opportunities to interact with others without having to worry about commuting. Take advantage of the private chats on video platforms such as Zoom to connect with specific people. Not only can you build stronger connections with coworkers by attending networking events, but you can also explore your nearby community. Apps like MeetUp help you find people with similar interests in your area.
Communicate Your Boundaries
Communicating your boundaries at work and at home can strengthen your relationships with others and help you take care of yourself. You can’t be your best self when you are ignoring your needs and trying to be everything to everyone. Keep your time commitments, but if something important comes up, communicate to your employer any changes using platforms that work best for you, such as shared office calendaring apps. Talk with those who share your living space about your needs for your work success. Use statements with both housemates and workmates that communicate your boundaries: “When I am in my office, I can’t talk with you because it distracts me from my work” or “I do not check my email outside of work hours.”
Dress for Productivity
Despite how tempting it is, the Indeed editorial team recommends not staying in your pajamas all day! Getting dressed helps you stick to a routine and puts you in a productive mindset. It also may contribute to your creativity in your expression of self, and it will ensure that you are ready for any impromptu work meetings.
When working remotely, you should make sure your home remains safe and comfortable and does not become a stress-inducing space. Caring for your mental and physical health by strengthening connections, setting boundaries, keeping your work and leisure spaces separate, and creating a healthy routine will help you succeed at your remote workplace. Remember to be easy on yourself. We are still navigating a constantly shifting workplace culture with no clear rule book!