As offices all over the country decided to close their doors and send employees to work-from-home in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, employees were forced to learn how to successfully work remotely very quickly. This was a drastic change for many as it stripped employees of their usual day-to-day office activities and required them to create new workplace habits.
Working remotely can make it more difficult to keep work and personal activities separate, leave the house for a change of scenery, take breaks from digital devices, stay organized, and stick to a routine. It’s important that employees put themselves first during this time but self-care often falls to the wayside in times like these.
Here are 4 key tips to ensure employees take care of themselves and stay productive throughout the work week!
Separate Work and Personal Activities
Many employees dreamed of having the opportunity to work-from-home before now, but what they didn’t realize is that the office creates a separation between their work life and personal life.
Working from the office allows employees to leave their responsibilities and tasks behind at the end of the day. When they step out of the office, they officially step into their personal time, but when they’re working from home, there is no longer a barrier between work life and personal life.
When they are not in the office, employees tend to slip into bad habits like feeling obligated to work late because they have all of their supplies with them at all times.
In order to avoid overworking and burnout, remote employees need to set boundaries. Employees should set specific work hours into place just as they would in the office, and stick to them. These work hours should not be altered unless it is truly necessary, and coworkers should be made aware of strict stop times to avoid last-minute requests at the end of these hours. This will allow employees to set boundaries and feel accomplished without overworking themselves.
Get a Change of Scenery
As many employees have probably noticed by now, remote work limits the amount of time they spend coming and going from their homes. They used to leave for work in the morning, spend the day in the office, and look forward to coming home at night. Now, employees can easily go a few days without leaving their homes because there is no pressing need to. This can be very unhealthy for remote employees because they are likely spending all of their time on digital devices, sitting stationary, and missing out on the benefits of fresh air and sunlight.
Employees should take time during the day to get outside for a walk or simply clear their minds. This will allow them to take a break from work and their computers, get their heart rate up, and be more productive overall. Don’t underestimate the importance of frequent breaks.
Limit Use of Digital Devices
During quarantine, people have become even more reliant on digital devices than before. As mentioned above, remote employees are spending more and more time on their devices because they are homebound and limited to interacting via computers, smartphones, and televisions. Research has shown that data usage has increased by 47 percent since COVID-19 began.
Increased use of digital devices for both work-related and personal activities, such as working from home, communicating with co-workers, friends, and family, telemedicine appointments, and entertainment can have negative effects on employees.
The excessive use of digital devices in both work-related and personal situations can cause digital eye strain, which can lead to headaches, blurred vision, lack of focus, and fatigue. This will make it more difficult for employees to complete their daily tasks and perform their duties efficiently.
Employees can avoid digital overload by limiting their use of digital devices. Unfortunately, that can be easier said than done, especially during this time when remote employees have to use their computers to complete their work and communicate with co-workers.
Along with limiting their use, there are also certain techniques and products employees can use to avoid digital eye strain like adopting the 20-20-20 rule, which suggests that for every 20 minutes spent engaging with a digital screen they look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds and repeat. This allows the eyes to completely relax and readjust to a non-digital visual. Also, wearing blue light blocking glasses can further protect employees from the negative effects of digital devices. Digital screens produce blue light wavelengths, which cause digital eye strain and digital fatigue. Blue light blocking glasses can filter out those blue light wavelengths, so employees can reduce their probability of developing eye problems just by viewing their screens.
Set a Routine into Place
Now that they are working remotely, another common disruption to an employee’s day-to-day is the lack of a morning routine and detailed schedule. Whether it’s with a morning walk, stretching, or a simple cup of coffee, following a routine to start their day can be very beneficial.
It has become quite common for remote employees to wake up 10-20 minutes before they begin their workday because there is no need to get ready to go. This can hold them back from having a productive day because they are likely still groggy and have no detailed plan prepared for the day ahead. A detailed plan doesn’t have to be exact and it can be altered if need be, but keeping a list of tasks they intend to accomplish throughout the day will motivate them to be their most productive.
When working from home, employees need to be their own motivators because there are no co-workers or team members to push them like there are in the office. Employees struggling with motivation should use a scheduling service like Microsoft calendar to plan out their day ahead of time. This will demonstrate just how much time they have to complete any given task, allow them to delegate tasks to co-workers if needed, and make them feel more accomplished as they check tasks off of their calendar.
It appears that remote work is here to stay for many companies across the country, at least for the foreseeable future. Employees should take advantage of the situation and make sure they are their most productive while working from home, but also maintaining a healthy work-life balance. If they use these self-care tips, they may find they can be even more productive at home than they were in the office due to fewer distractions, quiet areas, and being able to set-up their work station and daily schedule to benefit their personal workflow and needs.