Yes, you’re still working remotely. You may not have expected that when you went into lockdown more than a year ago, but as the pandemic stretched on, many companies took a semi-permanent approach to having workers do their jobs from home.
Some even made “semi-permanent” into “permanent.” And for many employees, in many respects, that was a good thing. There’s a lot of freedom that comes with being able to telecommute on a regular basis:
You can avoid the traffic going to and from the office, and you can devote the showering/ dressing/ make upping time to actual work — which you can do in your jammies. Work hours can be more flexible, too.
On the other hand, though, working from home can be a recipe for burnout. Fortunately, there are ways to guard against that.
Create a space to work
If you’ve been putting off designating a workspace, you shouldn’t any longer. Working from your kitchen table or balancing your laptop across your knees on the bed can make you feel like you don’t have a real place to work — which can be discouraging and dispiriting.
Once you’ve decided to set up a dedicated workspace at home, think about some things to do and some things not to do. Keep in mind:
- Ergonomics: Set up a workstation that’s at the proper height and encourages good posture while you work. The screen should be positioned so you’re looking about 15 degrees downward; your mouse should be the proper size to fit your hand; your feet should be flat on the floor, your shoulders back, and your back flat against the chair.
- Surroundings: Get your feng shui on! Make your surroundings comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. You can create ambience by adding plants, pictures, and/or candles. If you’ve got additional furniture, such as a sofa, consider whether you want fabric or leather. There are pros and cons to both.
- Lighting and sound: Proper lighting is important; windows are great, but you may want to avoid putting your desk right in front of one so you’re not distracted by what’s going on outside. Try to find a space away from sounds such as children playing or the clothes washer. If that’s not possible, consider some noise-canceling headphones.
Work up a budget
Before you start buying components for your home office, work up a budget so you know what you’ll be able to afford. And if you haven’t done so already, set up an overall budget, too. You may need to adjust it to reflect your work-from-home situation if it’s changed your finances.
Take into account, for instance, that you’re no longer spending as much on gas and car maintenance, since you’re no longer commuting to and from the office. (You may be able to cut your car insurance costs, too.) You can find a good budget app to help you.
Don’t forget to think long term by setting aside money for emergencies, insurance costs, and retirement. Building your credit is another worthwhile long-term goal and something you can do to ensure you can borrow money when you need it. Start by ordering a free copy of your credit report and seeing where you stand.
Set boundaries with time and space
Let your family know when you’re on the clock, so they won’t be interrupting you for minor concerns. You might even want to put a “do not disturb” sign on your door during your office hours.
On the other hand, you’ll want to let your employer know when you’ll be off the clock. Now that you’re no longer going to and from work, it will be easy to let your work day stretch on into hours that used to be personal time; or to check your email from the bedroom. That’s a sure way to hasten burnout.
By maintaining strong boundaries, you can protect both your work productivity and your personal and family life.
Take breaks, get up, get out
Get up and go for a walk, bike ride, or drive. Getting out of the house can be a great way to break up the monotony of work and avoid burnout. Exercising can help you think more clearly and stay physically healthier, so you don’t get sick or worn out working.
When it comes to your car, it’s easier to let things like maintenance lapse when you’re working from home, because you’re not thinking about them. So make sure you keep up with your oil changes, tune-ups, and tire rotation.
Since you likely aren’t using your car as much, it’s also a good idea to start the engine now and then so your battery doesn’t die on you. Leaving your car parked in one place for an extended period can also put extra pressure on your tires and cause them to deflate or develop flat spots, increasing the risk of a tire blowout.
Make sure you use your car periodically and can recognize the signs of wear on your tires and brakes. You don’t want to have a blowout or be unable to stop when you do get out there on the road.
Working from home can be liberating, but it can also be challenging. Even so, if you create a pleasant work-from-home environment, avoid distractions, set boundaries, and take breaks, you can navigate remote work — either temporarily or permanently — while avoiding burnout and maximizing both your productivity and fulfillment.
This blog post was authored by By Molly Barnes, Digital Nomad Life