Remote work has long topped the list of workplace benefits coveted by employees. Now, as employers discover the advantages of flexible work, remote jobs are moving from the fringe into the mainstream.
Despite the promises of remote work, it’s not always the work-life balance panacea employees expect. Lured by nonexistent commutes and flexible schedules, some remote workers have instead found longer workdays, social isolation, and an ever-blurrier line between work and home taking a toll on their mental health.
That’s not to say we should all abandon remote work and sprint back to the office. As we’ve explained before at Lifeshack, just because remote work is hard at first doesn’t mean it won’t work for you.
If working remotely has you feeling burnt out, disconnected, and discouraged, use these best practices to get into a work-from-home groove.
Keep a Schedule.
Remote work gives employees the flexibility to pick kids up from school, wash a load of laundry on their lunch break, and take the dog out for a midday walk. Too much flexibility, however, and remote workers struggle to stay productive. Sticking to a daily schedule keeps you focused and stops your work from expanding to fill the hours available.
Recreate the “Commute.”
Don’t go straight from bed to your desk without changing out of your pajamas. Even without a commute, you need a morning routine to shift your brain into gear. Get dressed, make a cup of coffee, and go on a walk to mimic your morning commute. Then, do the same at the end of the workday. Not only will you be more productive, but you’ll also reap the many benefits of sunlight, including better moods, less stress, and sounder sleep.
Breaks (especially away from screens) are an important part of the workday whether you’re in an office or at home — but there’s one kind of break that can sabotage your concentration and your waistline. If you find yourself rummaging through the kitchen cupboards every time your mind wanders at work, relocate your office away from the kitchen, and pre-portion healthy snacks that boost your brainpower rather than leave you feeling sluggish. Veggies with hummus, pumpkin seeds, and apples with nut butter are favorites, but you can find healthy snacks for any diet.
Drink Enough Water.
Staying hydrated is another trick to avoid overeating at work, but that’s not the only reason to keep a glass of water on your desk. Even mild dehydration can cause fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. If you have a habit of forgetting to hydrate, use a marked water bottle or an app to track your intake.
Get Up and Move.
It’s all too easy to go from bed to desk and back when you work from home. But adopting a sedentary lifestyle isn’t just bad for your body, it’s bad for your brain too. Exercise improves moods and strengthens the parts of the brain responsible for executive function and emotional regulation. Without it, you’re more prone to become stressed, anxious, and depressed. Between mini mid-day workouts and after-hours exercise, be sure to build fitness into your remote workday.
Finally, remote workers should stay connected. You might not share physical space with colleagues, but that doesn’t mean you can’t share in watercooler conversations over Slack or get together for a Zoom happy hour. Other strategies for beating work-from-home loneliness include working at coffee shops and co-working spaces, planning social lunches, and getting out of the house after-hours.
Don’t let work-from-home hiccups scare you away from the flexible work you’ve always wanted. After launching your remote career, create a work-from-home routine that keeps you feeling positive, productive, and connected. Lifeshack has all the resources you need to stay on course. Follow the blog today.
Image via Pexels