Emotional Health and Working From Home

If you had asked the question, “What is the number one problem with work-from-home situation?,” just five or six weeks ago, it would probably be something along the lines of lacking the necessary tools to effectively communicate and actually work from home.

Presently, however, a new problem has begun to present itself: burnout. For the first two-or-three weeks of our collective all-remote-all-the-time work situation, we were trying to come up with the “new normal.” But the novelty has worn off.

Most of us do the same thing every day. You wake up, you’re where you work. You go to sleep, you’re where you work — it’s like Groundhog Day.

EIGHT HOURS A DAY

A few weeks ago, my new normal had me sitting in front of my computer for eight hours a day . As a society we need social connections throughout the day to keep us emotionally healthy. Whether that’s through a virtual call or meeting, or through the phone, it’s important to talk to other people on your team — knowing you’re not the only person dealing with the stress helps.

And that’s just part of it — emotional health requires more than just sitting in the same room for the majority of the day. You need to mentally step away whether it’s going on a walk, working in the garden, reading a book or getting a workout in just do something every few hours, to decompress from the work at hand.

Another method of promoting emotional health is by coming up with a game plan. Your day needs to have structure to it, because when we work at home, we end up working at home too much because we have technology that allows us to be reached at all hours of the day and night.  It’s very easy to sit in front of your computer for hours without realizing it which can lead to physical issues with back and neck pain and eye strain.

When coming up with a game plan some things to consider are to keep work separate from personal time. Have a separate work area, not the dining room table, where you have limited outside interruptions. Try to start and stop work at about the same time every day to keep a routine. Dress based on your job as this will help you keep that sense of work.  Make sure that you have the resources you need such as your computer, scanners, access to your work files, etc. 

Now more than ever before the combination of exercise, a good diet and having a game plan are paramount— not only do these keep you physically healthy, they keep you mentally fit as well, and are a good way to stave off burnout.

THE NEW WORK LIFE BALANCE

Like a lot of us, I’m working harder from home than I did in the office — maybe it’s because there’s less interruption, and no one to chat with other than my dog — so we tend to put more on ourselves.  

What will the new ‘normal’ be when returning to work? No one can truly answer that question, but I do see changes based on what we have come to expect. 

I think we will see a large increase in the remote workforce with a growth in cloud based management systems and CRMs. 

Meetings and conferences will be replaced in large numbers by collaboration platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams which will allow for more and better day to day interactions, whether it be between sales and clients or managers and staff.  

The last few weeks have been a proof source that working from home can definitely be done but not just between the hours of 8 and 5.  I think we will see some blurring of office hours to allow for more flexibility and spacing of work hours through out the day.    

BUILD A ROUTINE, AND STICK TO IT

The most important tool I’ve found for fighting off burnout is to stick to a routine — without one, you’ll find yourself answering emails at eight at night.

And while work is important to keep structured, relaxation is even more important. Make sure to schedule in some time to some something you enjoy; whether that’s reading a book, sitting on your porch, or running on your treadmill — whatever makes you happy, make the time to do it.

Beth Johnson
Beth Johnson is a Business Improvement Specialist for Cobb Technologies, and has worked in the printing and imaging industry for 24 years, all of which have been with Cobb. When Beth isn't looking for ways to optimize performance and bottom line savings for customers, either in dollars, or one employee at a time, she can be found hiking, gardening, traveling, and spending time with her family and three dogs.