Dennis is an interdisciplinary educational researcher, who mainly writes about mental health, sustainability, and academia.
To many, Covid-19 has meant remote work, and remote work has meant working from home. Working from home has posed several challenges, ranging from having to carve out a conducive space for work in our homes, to managing work-life balance, and setting boundaries. Although we are gradually reacquainting ourselves with public life, remote work is here to stay for many of us. The blurring of boundaries between home and work has advantages as well as disadvantages. With less restrictions on mobility now, remote workers are now free to socialize outdoors: meeting friends and colleagues is a well-known stress-busting technique, but it’s not the only one. Below are some simple tips to make remote work stress-free and even enjoyable.
Make The Most Of Not Having To Commute:
Perhaps the biggest advantage of remote work is not having to commute. The extra time can be used for several purposes. You can use the time to do your dishes, or to plan and prep your meals, or organize your workspace for the day ahead. You can even spend the time catching up with your roommate or partner.
You can also develop a healthy habit with the extra time: yoga or walking are great ways to alleviate stress. Another advantage of remote work is that you don’t necessarily have to do this in the morning. If you have a flexible work schedule, you can go for impromptu walks, too.
Remake Your Surroundings:
This does not necessarily mean buying new decor or redoing your interiors. It could be something as basic as rearranging furniture or seeing old spaces anew. This is especially doable if you have easily movable furniture. You can create a significant change in mood and atmosphere by changing things up just a little. Behavioral psychology has shown that our environment can impact (positively and negatively) our mental states. Making thoughtful changes to our surroundings therefore engenders several psychological benefits: it reduces stress and anxiety, improves overall mental health, and makes us more productive.
If you have a portable work desk, you can explore working from different corners of your house. Windows or balconies with a good view are popular choices. If you have to watch your child while working, you can haul your desk closer to where they are. Similarly, you can also place your desk close to the kitchen if you have to keep an eye on your oven while you write important emails. A portable work desk is also useful when you want some time away from your partner or child. You can move to a quiet corner of your house without compromising on posture.
On the other hand, if you find yourself wanting well-defined boundaries between work and home, it would be a great idea to leave notes. For example, if you don’t want your kitchen or bedroom to turn into a working area, you can leave notes to remind yourself. A simple note posted on the entrance helps you remain accountable to yourself. You can also leave notes to let your partner or roommate know that you won’t be available for a while.
Discover The Joy Of Small Things Done Well:
Taking joy in doing small things well is a pleasure many of us discovered and took refuge in when the pandemic first struck. Doing the dishes, wiping down your countertop, dusting your workstation, watering the plants, or enjoying a moment of spontaneous play with your child or pet: the list of small but essential things is endless. Just as it was difficult to adjust to life during a lockdown, reacquainting ourselves with public life also brings its fair share of challenges. The so-called small things can be stress-busters in this situation, too.
Cleaning may be a stressful activity for some, but for many, it relieves anxiety and stress. If you are concerned or anxious about meeting friends and colleagues, cleaning can help you relax. If cleaning isn’t for you, make sure you spend some time listening to calming music or a humorous podcast to ease your nerves.
Acknowledge The Gendered Aspect Of Domestic Responsibilities:
Remote work has proven particularly challenging for working parents, especially working mothers. For working mothers, a large part of life beyond work is domestic work. The pandemic has made it more difficult for mothers to find some downtime. As early as December 2020, nine months into the global pandemic, a survey by UrbanSitters showed that mothers were the primary caregivers in 53 percent of American households surveyed.
Even prior to the pandemic, a McKinsey study found that “one in four working women in North America said that they were considering downshifting their careers or dropping out of the workforce entirely. For working mothers, and particularly those with young children, the number was one in three.”
It is therefore essential for couples and families to have conversations about division of labor while working from home. It is equally important to acknowledge the gendered aspect of domestic work. Though this has proven to be a particularly volatile topic, it is a necessary step in ensuring that couples and families divide domestic responsibilities fairly. This piece offers simple, actionable tips in this context.