In the past decade, the number of remote workers has risen by 159% globally. In the United States alone, 59% of the workforce are remote workers. While remote working or telecommuting is not at all a new concept, the COVID-19 pandemic has put it at the front and center of the new normal in business today.
Some would associate remote working with autonomy, freedom, trust and happiness. However, there are those who find it difficult to navigate having to work at a place that was once their refuge from a full day’s work. A survey suggests that some remote workers find it hard to unplug and separate their personal lives from their professional routines. One reason for this is the fact that not every worker has a designated workplace at home. Remote working during the pandemic hit differently, too, as workers did not necessarily choose to work from home — so the deliberation and preparation that usually go into the decision to telecommute was taken away.
Remote work is here to stay, or at least for some companies — even after everything opens up again and the restrictions are lifted. Whether you are currently working remotely or looking to shift to remote work soon, here are a few tips for you to stay positive about working from home.
Clear your mind by setting routines
Creating routines can help you think more clearly — and I’m going a bit scientific in the next few sentences, so bear with me. The executive functions such as abstract thinking, planning, social instincts, and emotional control happen in the prefrontal cortex. This part of our brain, however, tires very easily (unsurprisingly). When this part of the brain gets too tired, our ability to make sound decisions, relate with other people, and perceive our actions are negatively affected. Now, the habits and routines that we create are stored in another part of our brain called the basal ganglia — freeing up some space in the front of the brain, so that we can think more clearly and relate with others better. So, make sure that you stick to some semblance of a work routine as much as possible. This will help stay on track of your tasks without having to tire your mind too much.
Connect with your team
Working at home can get isolating and lonely. A lot of the remote teams have members in different timezones, so connecting and engaging with teammates can be a bit tricky. This is why it takes conscious and consistent effort to bond and connect with your colleagues while working remotely. Instant messaging, group chats, and occasional after-work virtual hangouts are just a few activities that you can do in order to maintain a sense of community amongst your teammates. There are teams that have Friday afternoon virtual drinking sessions. You can give that a try!
Now that the restrictions are starting to get lifted, you can meet up with some of your teammates who live near you. You can set up a virtual hangout session while having your in-person hang to also include teammates from all over the globe.
Grow your skills
A sense of accomplishment from learning a new skill is always a good source of happiness. You can start a side project that is work-related or learn a new skill that is totally unrelated to your role. Whether it’s speaking a new language, learning basic coding, getting more adept in new tools and applications at work, or amping up your organizational skills, the sense of fulfillment you get from acquiring a new skill will positively impact your morale.
This means both taking breaks during the day and taking days off. A day's work can get overwhelming, and working at the same place where you live can make you feel stuck. Vary your scenery by getting out of the house once in a while — breathe in fresh air, walk around the block, or visit a nearby park.
Working from home does not mean that you don’t need to take your leaves, that is why your employer offers flexible leaves and smooth management. Make use of your allowed leaves to unwind and take care of yourself. If local regulations allow for it, go hiking or take a trip to the beach. Spend time with loved ones, or just stay at home and catch up on your favorite TV shows. However, you choose to spend your leaves, make sure that you are completely shut off from work during these days. This means no peeping into your work email from your phone, either!
With everything that’s going on around the world today, it is completely normal not to look at remote work as something of a perk that it can be. You are not alone in feeling this way. Here’s hoping that the list above can get you started in creating a remote work experience that is positive and uplifting.
About the author:
Regi Publico is a full-time writer based in Manila who is also an artist for fun. She takes pride in her towering collection of books and loves reading about anything under the sun. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge through every article that she writes.