When the pandemic hit, businesses started adopting remote work arrangements to keep operations going. But even if most employees now work from the comfort of their homes instead of in traditional office spaces, they still experience work-related stress.
Unfortunately, a change of scenery doesn't offer a long-term reprieve from job stress. Achieving work-life balance is still a problem for some remote workers, perhaps even more so now that their personal and professional lives take place in the same space.
If you’re feeling stressed, burned out, or anxious because of work, doing the following things can help.
1. Dedicate a space specifically for work
If you don’t designate one spot in your home as your workspace, the whole house may turn into an office. This makes it more difficult to unplug and return to your home life. Meanwhile, the act of leaving your office space and going to your living space allows you to cross a physical — and a metaphorical — boundary back into your personal life at the end of the day.
What’s more, when things get too stressful at work, getting out of your designated office space allows you to physically remove yourself from the area that causes you stress.
2. Make your workspace comfortable
Most, if not all, houses are not built to be offices. If you’re working from home, you will likely be using a chair that was not made to be sat on for hours or a desk that’s either too low or too high for your needs. Invest in ergonomic furniture to avoid getting backaches or neck strains. Physical stress is still a form of stress, and making sure your workspace is equipped with comfortable furniture is one way to lower your stress levels
Another way to make your workspace cozier is by keeping it well-lit, so choose a spot near a window or install lighting fixtures to brighten up your space. If the slightest noise makes you lose focus, try using noise-cancelling earphones or earplugs. What’s important is that your workspace drives your productivity up while keeping you comfortable.
3. Be clear about requirements
If you constantly feel drained at the end of the day, you may need to re-evaluate your workload and how much time you spend working each day. Often, remote workers feel the need to respond to messages and requests outside of their work hours. This shouldn’t be so.
Your personal life is just important as your professional life, so talk to your manager about the work that’s required of you and how you meet deadlines without working overtime. Set clear boundaries with your teammates as well, and encourage a culture of respecting each other’s time.
4. Talk to colleagues
Whether it’s about a difficult task or a new recipe you’re trying out, communicating how you feel with your colleagues can reduce stress. Remote workers can feel isolated and detached, so if you start feeling the blues, reach out to work friends and talk about things outside of work. You’d be surprised at how a simple virtual game night or a Zoom catch up session can lift your spirits.
5. Keep organized
Visual clutter can negatively affect your well-being. When your surroundings are unorganized, your thoughts can also become muddled. Clear your desk of any litter, and move things that you don’t need for work away from your line of vision.
6. Don’t multitask
Multitasking drains the brain of energy. When you force your grey matter to switch from one cognitive task to another, it uses up oxygenated glucose that boosts brainpower, causing it to function below optimal levels. This results in taking more time than normal to complete tasks, which, in turn, causes stress. Focus only on one task at a time.
7. Use reliable technology
Work becomes even more stressful when the tools you need to get things done don’t work properly or occasionally malfunction. Being unable to join video conferences due to slow internet speeds, for instance, can both be frustrating and productivity-draining. More than ever, you need technology that doesn’t fail you.
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