Working from home is the new reality for millions of people. This sudden transition amid the COVID-19 pandemic has employees confronting new issues, and it is not just about equipment and processes. Being away from the workplace for a few months has employees feeling disconnected.
The boundaries between work and non-work are blurring in unusual ways. Many employees, mostly those working remotely for the first time, are struggling to maintain healthy boundaries between their personal and professional lives.
Given the unprecedented situation many of us are in today, what can employees do to set clear boundaries between work and non-work lives and avoid burnout?
Here are some recommendations:
1. Establish a Routine
Not going to the office has made it tempting to turn off the alarm, roll over to the other side of the bed, and get a few extra hours of sleep. Well, who wouldn’t like that, but a productive day starts with a productive morning. Therefore, it is vital to start the day as if you’re going to the office.
Easier said than done, right? However, there are some things that employees can do to get their morning routine on track.
Set the alarm at a time that allows at least an hour for some exercise and meditation to stay calm and focused. Establish a morning ritual and follow it every single day. This will hold you accountable for getting in the right frame of mind before starting work.
2. Carve Out a Dedicated Workspace
Working from a particular workstation for a long time can make employees accustomed to it, and now that they are expected to work from home, they are likely to feel disorganized. Employees formed a habit of getting dressed for work, commuting to the office, and working from a dedicated workspace.
Now, that the situation has changed, they must find a space that they can claim as their own until returning to the office. Even if employees can’t have a separate room, they can choose a corner out of the way or use a room divider.
Just like a workstation in the office, employees need to think of the home office as a dedicated space where they can stay focused, attend virtual meetings, and get work done. This helps maintain boundaries between professional and personal lives and gives a feeling of having accomplished something at the end of the workday.
3. Stay Connected to Colleagues
Staying in touch with colleagues was easy pre-COVID. Having lunch together or a quick chat over coffee was good enough to keep workers connected. Amid the pandemic, we all are feeling somewhat isolated.
Though the circumstances have changed, employees need to understand that their colleagues are in the same situation and, therefore, understand the difficulties they might be facing, better than anyone else. Reach out to them. Have coffee and chat online, just like before.
It is quite common to feel isolated in the current circumstances. This is why it is essential to stay in touch with not only coworkers but family members and friends. Nobody has to undermine their relationships, professional or personal, because of the Coronavirus outbreak.
4. Adopt a Holistic Approach to Mental and Physical Health
Being confined within a home can be excruciating and can take its toll on health. Health is a holistic concept and relies on various interrelated systems working cohesively. Therefore, it’s vital to ensure that employees know where to find information and support for mental health. Employers need to maintain open channels of communication to understand how employees are feeling. It is crucial to monitor employees’ mental well-being with structured check-ins and encourage peer support.
Due to the pandemic, many employees have begun to focus more on their health and well-being, because they understand that it will not only lower the risk of contracting the virus, but will also boost their productivity. Being physically active is key to mental clarity and reduced stress.
5. Determine When You’re Most Productive
Since embracing virtual working as the new normal, it’s been difficult for many people to stay productive. Working from home has provided the liberty to plan out time as employees deem fit, but it has not been a welcome development for many.
Not everyone works the same way; for some working for 45 minutes and then taking a short break might work, whereas some folks like to work for two full, uninterrupted hours. Again, early-birds enjoy mornings and then are others who like to work late afternoons.
So each employee needs to figure out when and how they are at their productive best. Try different work schedules, see what works, and adjust the calendar accordingly.
Protecting Employee Well-being
Adapting the daily schedule to a home environment comes with its own challenges. But no one should let circumstances affect their happiness or productivity. It is really helpful to look for the upside in a downside situation and correct your perspective. Understanding that it is impossible to control everything helps. So, employees need to accept what is beyond their control, like this pandemic, which took us all by surprise.
Employers are also worried about health consequences for their workforces. For both employees and employers, supporting well-being needs an integrated approach that addresses health issues in this new working environment.
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