BY EMILY EWEN | MARCH 20, 2020
In a matter of days, many of us have transitioned from spending the majority of our days at work — surrounded by colleagues and attending meetings — to working from home in an effort to social distance. While remote work has been growing in popularity over the past few years (a recent report by Upwork states that by 2028, all companies will have teams with remote workers), this shift can be challenging for many employees.
As we figure out how to navigate this new “normal,” we’re also learning to be productive and accountable in a new environment. This can be challenging, especially when it comes to our health and well-being. So to help you make the most of your workdays, we’re offering our top tips for staying healthy, efficient and effective while working from home.
Personalize your workspace.
At an office, you’d likely have a designated cubicle or space to call your own. But at home, any space is fair game. Designate a workspace that is functional and comfortable — but isn’t your bed — and stick to it. You may want to choose a private space that allows you to close the door and free yourself from distractions.
Maintain a routine.
While you don’t have to get dressed and ready for the day if you’re at home, working in your pajamas can further blur the lines between the work and relaxation portions of your day. Instead of a commute in, consider a morning routine that starts your day on a positive note. Then, do your best to stick to a set routine throughout your entire day.
Set clear boundaries.
Remote work offers many convenient benefits, but it also has one major caveat: Work follows you everywhere. This means it’s crucial to set boundaries for your well-being and health, as well as for your relationships. Do your best to stick to a set schedule, such as only working during business hours. If you need to, set limits on your devices or shut your phone off during family time.
Make time for social interaction.
Take a break — at lunch or the end of the day — and make a point to be social. If you have others at home with you, stop working and make lunch together. Or if you’re alone, call a friend, family member, or coworker to catch up. Put in a little extra effort to get the human connection that’s often lacking in remote work.
Take mindful breaks.
Maximize your productivity by taking regular ultradian rhythm breaks, ideally every 90 to 120 minutes. Active, restorative breaks help you regain concentration and allow your body to refresh the oxygen and energy your brain needs. During your break, consider taking a five-minute walk, grabbing a healthy snack, or making a cup of tea.
Prep healthy snacks.
When you’re home all day, it’s easy to graze every time you walk past the kitchen and fill up on snacks. Instead, make sure to build in time to have regular meals, and keep a few healthy snacks on hand for when midmorning or midafternoon hunger creeps up. Try any of these nourishing, whole-food snack recipes to keep you energized throughout the day.
Create smooth transitions.
When you decide you’re done working for the day, it’s a good idea to incorporate some type of closure. For example, consider ending your day with a workout. A little movement can help you transition from a task-focused headspace and calm your mind as you prepare for your evening.
Look on the bright side.
Working in an office may provide more opportunities for face-to-face collaboration, but remote work has many productivity and health perks. At home, you avoid the spreading of germs in office bathrooms, breakrooms, and open-seating areas. You also avoid harsh lighting which — according to a study by European Commission researchers — can put you at a higher risk of developing eye issues.
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