Working from home is challenging.
Back in the day, it was considered a perk to have the flexibility to WFH. Now it’s become a requirement. And it brings some unique challenges that take time to figure out. For example, depending on who you share your home with, there could be a serious lack of social interaction or possibly worse, an increase in distractions like children and pets. There could be less ergonomic support in terms of your customised workstation that might lead to new pains or strains. And let’s not forget the temptation of unlimited snacks in the kitchen that can impact your health and focus. Home comes with many in-built productivity detractors.
Blurred lines and longer hours.
As boundaries between professional and personal lives have blurred, people are noticing that they’re working a lot more. Some feel compelled to prove they’re actually working without that in-office visibility. Many are enabling longer access periods for co-workers that spill over into personal time. Research indicates that workers are dedicating an average of 2 additional hours to each workday. Without the physical boundaries of separate spaces and the former commute, many workers are also reporting that they lack the transition time that helps with mentally disconnecting from work.
The home office is becoming a staple as hybrid work styles are replacing the traditional office-first culture. If you want to stay healthy when working from home, here’s a handy guide to help you hack your own working environment and boost your personal performance.
- Invest in your home office. Choose your space wisely. Find a dedicated room or quiet corner to enable you to focus. Invest in a quality office chair that supports excellent posture and back health. Ensure your monitor is at eye level to minimise neck strain. Consider access to natural light and bright lighting for your space too.
- Set a routine schedule. Working in your pyjamas might be tempting, but makes that unexpected call from your boss a bit awkward. Keep your regular routine of getting up, getting ready, eating breakfast, and sitting down to work at the same time each day.
- Protect yourself from distractions. Our home offices can be laden with unusual workplace distractions from chatty non-colleagues to pets and kids. There are also some easy traps like Netflix and social media. While controlling non-work screen time is up to you, consider investing in noise-cancelling headphones to block out noise and make online meetings a breeze.
- Align brain power with activities. 55% of people are smarter in the morning. Plan your day around your brainpower and remember that by simply organising your daily tasks with your brain you can actually improve your performance without even breaking a sweat.
- Learn to love your calendar. Scrap the to-do list in favour of time-blocking or timeboxing. Plan your days in your calendar by how you want to spend your time. Don’t forget to add in your personal tasks too and build in some buffer time so that you can ensure your mind is free from remembering your over-flowing to-do list.
- Take regular breaks. Taking breaks boosts productivity and overall health. Coffee breaks, lunches, and meetings are all normal parts of in-office life so don’t skip them. And choose your breaks wisely as there are good breaks and bad breaks. Good breaks are things like stretching, getting some fresh air, or going for a walk. You can even use the flexibility to get some exercise and come back to the home office refreshed with a new perspective.
- Avoid online meeting burnout. Zoom fatigue is real. While it can be lonely to work at home, being stuck in endless zoom meetings can also be exhausting. Here are a few tips you can act on. Have you tried closing down the picture of yourself? Staring in the mirror while talking to your colleagues is a bit odd and consumes precious mental energy to monitor your non-verbal communications. So ditch the built-in selfie so you can be more present.
- Celebrate your wins. Rome wasn’t built in a day and it’s easy to overlook our daily progress. People working from home tend to believe they didn’t accomplish enough, while research demonstrates an increase in productivity. So how do we combat the perception gap? Recognize each victory as you go. Then when you’re feeling frustrated by a lack of accomplishment, consult your win list and be impressed by your own accomplishments.
- Insert healthy boundaries. It can be tempting to work more or plug back in after dinner. But this can actually become a hindrance to productivity and lead to possible burn-out if sustained long-term. Instead, recognize that everyone has good days and sub-par days, but doing our best every day is all we can ask for. In fact, stepping away often allows our brains and bodies to recharge better so we can do amazing things tomorrow.
Recharge your batteries daily.
Unfortunately, our energy isn’t an unlimited supply and just like a flat iPhone, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Once your batteries are drained, accomplishing simple things can feel like a chore. So the key is to pay attention to the low battery alerts and take action. Prevention is always the best strategy for long-term health. Our daily actions like sleep, nutrition, exercise, and stress determine the effectiveness of our nightly recharges, which in turn affect our ability to handle the day ahead. Working to set up the right home office environment that facilitates productivity and makes focusing easy is the first step to make your work-life easier and to activate your personal potential. And remember, when you’re feeling your best, everybody wins including you!
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Technical native with ninja-like project management skills. She drives technology like she built it and specialises in smoothing out the digital experience. Disorganisation is her nemesis. A beer aficionado, she can be found brewing (and sampling) craft beers.