7 min read
This story originally appeared on Foro Económico Mundial
By Kate Whiting
- More than two-thirds of economic activity in the United States was produced by people working from home in May.
- Here are eight ways to make working from home more effective without affecting your mental well-being.
Working from home every day may have felt like a novelty six months ago, but for many of us, we are now at it for the long haul.
In May, 42% of Americans ages 20-64 who earned more than $ 20,000 were working from home full time, according to a Stanford University survey , which is equivalent to more than two-thirds of the economic activity of Americans. United States. That compares with the 2% who worked full-time from home before the pandemic.
Home work in the US now represents two thirds of its economic activity / Image: SIEPR
While offices around the world have started to reopen with COVID security measures, Stanford Professor Nicholas Bloom says we are likely to continue working from home in some capacity through 2022.
Which means, once the novelty wears off, we need healthy habits to make sure we’re focused and productive during work hours – avoiding the “temptation” to do another load of laundry – and we can turn off at the end of the day.
Even Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella admits that the boundaries have blurred so much between our personal and work lives, “that it sometimes feels like you’re sleeping at work.”
The UK National Health Service has tips for working from home and good time management as part of its Every Mind Matters mental health counseling service.
1. Establish a routine and stick to it
Sticking to a routine allows for structure / Image: NHS
It can be stressful to walk the line between work and personal time, so schedules are a must. Get up and eat breakfast at the same time each day, and stick to an alternate “commute” time, where you exercise, read, or listen to music, before starting work. “The most important thing is that when your workday stops, stop working,” says the National Health Service. “Shut up, stop checking emails and focus on home life.”
2. Make a dedicated workspace
If you haven’t already, perhaps because the kids have left school, now is the time to find a quiet space away from other people and distractions. Try to designate an area as your workspace, make it as comfortable as possible – check out the tips for sitting right at your desk – and make sure you have everything you need in one place.
3. Take a break
Taking a break is important / Image: NHS
It can feel like we need to be “on” all the time – and available to colleagues now that they can’t see us in person. But as the NHS says, this work-from-home presenteeism is not good if it is affecting your mental health. So take regular breaks for testing and a lunch break to control your stress levels. Taking the time to focus on something else, be it a walk or a coffee, will increase your productivity. If you feel tense and stiff because you move less, try doing a 10-minute exercise .
4. Stay connected
While working from home has its benefits, “it can also feel more isolated,” says the National Health Service. Human interaction is important to our mental well-being, so make video calls or pick up the phone. Talk to your colleagues or your boss if you have problems and ask others how they are. “Make time to socialize virtually – schedule a digital coffee break or online meeting on Fridays. Or meet in person for coffee or lunch if you can, following the latest social distancing guidelines.”
5. Set limits
“Setting boundaries with other members of your household is key to mental well-being while working at home,” says the NHS. Yes, there is more flexibility, but you may also have to deal with children who think you are there for them. Talk to your family or those who live about your needs and share your schedule, and do the same with your colleagues and directors, so that you can enjoy being with your family, your partner or your housemates at the end of the day.
6. Review time management
Chartered occupational psychologist Emma Donaldson-Feilder has shared her tips for better time management to help you feel more in control, more focused, and less stressed. Suggest that you set goals and write to-do lists that prioritize and set deadlines for tasks. And practicing “4Ds” can help you manage the stress of email:
- Delete: This applies to about half of the emails you receive.
- Do: if it is urgent or can be completed quickly.
- Delegate: if someone else can handle it better.
- Snooze: set aside time later to spend on emails that will take longer to deal with.
7. Think long term
We may be working from home for some time, so it’s worth exploring different programs and ways of working to boost collaboration with others, as well as thinking about work-at-home settings.
8. Be kind to yourself
Working from home can be stressful, remember it’s not always easy / Image: NHS
“Remember this is an unusual situation, so be gentle with yourself and recognize that you may not be as productive as you normally would be. Be realistic about what you can accomplish under the circumstances – and relax when you finish your work.”