Working remotely can ease a lot of stress for employees, from erasing commute woes to providing a comfortable and familiar workspace. But for those who are suddenly embarking on a telework experiment - as many of us are right now - it can also be a jarring transition.
Mental and emotional health is an important part of productivity, and managers should consider ways to support employees who are working remotely, whether it's a temporary arrangement or a longer-term option. Below are some suggestions that employers can impart to employees.
1. Make Movement Part of the Day. Sitting still isn't good for our bodies, no matter where your workplace happens to be. Remote work is no exception to that. Flexjobs.com recommends taking a 10-minute break every hour and using an app like Time Out to remind you to take regular breaks. One of the best benefits of remote work is the time gained back from a long commute; use that time to take walks or try a virtual workout program.
2. Set a Routine. Just because you can work in your pajamas doesn't mean you should. Your productivity will increase if you create a schedule and stick to it. Bloomberg News recommends waking up at a regular time, eating regular meals, showering, and dressing in comfortable work clothes.
3. Create a Workspace. Easier said than done if you have a spouse and children also working or schooling from home right now. But at a minimum have a working space that you can type on, a comfortable chair with lumbar support or a standing desk setup, good lighting - preferably including natural light - and a way to create a quiet space for yourself. That might mean noise-canceling headphones.
4. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. You've likely used technology to make remote meetings work in the past, but it's going to be more important than ever to make good use of those tools and possibly use them in new ways. Set up regular check-ins and meetings not just over phone calls but with video conferencing. Seeing other people's faces, especially during this time of isolation, will give coworkers a mental and emotional boost and help everyone feel more connected to each other and their work.
Consider using video conferencing to facilitate some fun team bonding, too, once a week.
5. Establish Boundaries. When the day is done, log off your computer and stay logged off. It can be easy to slip back into your emails or unfinished projects if your laptop is sitting on the kitchen table, but that means you're setting yourself up for some unhealthy work-life balance.
“The biggest surprise for me is how fast the day can go without you realizing it, compared with working in the office,” says Eric Lam, a cross-asset reporter in Hong Kong who works for Bloomberg. “Cutting out the commute makes me feel much more productive with my day. But on the other hand, it sometimes does not feel like you’re actually done with work when your working hours are up. So it’s important to know when to get up and turn it off.”