Approximately 16% of companies across the globe are fully remote and around 62% of workers aged 22 to 65 work from home at least part-time. While many first embraced telecommuting during the pandemic, scientists at Ladders predict this phenomenon is here to stay and will actually increase into 2023. In the U.S. alone, they add, around one-quarter of all professional jobs will be remote by the end of the year. If you have always been a full-time office worker and your company has just made the switch to remote work, how can you take full advantage of this opportunity and create a fruitful working environment while protecting your mental health?
Finding the Perfect Spot for Your Home Office
If remote work will be part of your permanent working experience, you will need to design a small home workspace to maximize ergonomics and productivity. Natural light, ergonomic furniture, and a high-resolution computer monitor, for instance, can reduce eye strain and back pain, and promote enhanced work performance. You don’t need lots of space for your home working area; even if you have a small apartment, you can convert spaces such as a walk-in closet, the space beneath the stairs, or the living room into your work area. You may have to conduct renovations, however, to make sure you have natural light (70% of people say it improves their work performance). You should also invest in health-promoting furniture such as a standing desk, bearing in mind that sitting all day can increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis, stroke, and other problems. If you will be working in a common area, use a space divider such as shelves or a vertical ‘living wall’ to create a sense of privacy. Ideally, your company should provide you with some financial aid for necessary adaptation. A bevy of companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter are already doing so.
Sticking to a Predetermined Schedule
One of the few downsides of working from home is that it can be hard to separate work from your personal life. It is therefore important to create a set schedule with the approval of your managers. If you are allowed to create your own flexible work hours, have a definite switch-off time, and don’t give in to the temptation to check emails and work texts once you’re offline.
Working on Friendships
It may be hard to imagine, but remote work can take its toll on your mental health. As reported by Forbes, loneliness and isolation are the largest reported issue among remote workers and they can lead to higher stress levels and bad decision-making. Some companies are offering workers the chance to meet socially at team-building events and regular social outings. However, if this is not the case in your company, you can proactively battle isolation by signing up for stress-busting activities like yoga, slotting in regular social get-togethers, and liaising frequently with colleagues and friends via work and social apps like Slack, Google Meets, Skype and Facetime.
Remote work was always touted as an ideal way to obtain a better work-life balance. However, it does take adaptation and this applies both to one’s physical and mental ‘space’. Your home may need to be adapted to accommodate an office and you should see this as an important investment in your wellbeing and productivity. However, you should also prioritize social gatherings, as a way to stave off isolation and loneliness.