For a growing number of people, the ability to work from home has been one of the few unexpected positives to emerge from the pandemic. Many employers have finally granted their workers greater flexibility and the chance to better balance work and life.
However, these arrangements can have their downsides as employees make the transition. When you spend so much time indoors, sometimes you might feel unwell without really knowing why. Maybe it’s because of indoor air quality; in that case, an air duct cleaning service can handle the issue.
But what if the cause of this malaise is somehow still tied to your work? Just because you get to skip the daily commute and work in your pajamas doesn’t make you immune to work-related stress. This is a time of change, and small stressors can go unnoticed. Yet their effects add up over time and leave you feeling just as exhausted as any office-bound worker.
Working from home offers a lot of comfort and convenience. You get to prepare better meals and spend more time with your family. It’s all right to take breaks as needed. No one’s looking, or filtering IP addresses, for that matter, if you choose to open social media or your online shopping account on the same laptop you’re using for work.
And yet the loosening up of rules and restrictions typically present in a traditional office can be a source of stress. The responsibility of maintaining boundaries and managing potential disruptions or distractions gets shifted onto your shoulders.
You might not have been consciously aware of that burden, but you certainly know that on some level, avoiding distractions is vital. Research has shown that on average, interruptions cost you 23 minutes and 15 seconds for each instance.
The presence of your family doesn’t have to mean boundaries are blurred. You have to establish some house rules and set expectations to enjoy interacting with them but within reason. In the same way, manage the presence of potential distractions. Either put away devices and leisure temptations or relocate your home office setup to a quiet, focused space.
This ties into the bigger concern of work efficiency. Remote workers may actually spend more time on their jobs compared to their office-based counterparts. And distractions aren’t the only factor at play in this regard.
Online meetings can be an excellent substitute for regular interactions in the office. They simulate the face-to-face discussions your team is missing. But meetings can also lead to inefficiency.
During in-person conversations, it’s easier to pick up on subtle visual cues and body language that indicate when you’ve been talking too much. Knowing when it’s time to wrap up is harder when everyone you’re talking to is reduced to small frames on a grid on your screen.
The same problem of communication can show up in verbal collisions or disagreements; it’s easier to smooth things out in person. Online, it’s harder to feel as though you’re getting your point across. It makes meetings drag on longer than they should.
At the back of your mind, you’re wondering when you can get back to being productive. And yet you might not be able to resume until colleagues share updates on tasks you’re working on together.
This particular stressor is frustrating because it’s not entirely under your control. Effective online communication and collaboration is a team challenge. If you recognize the problem, involve your team. The only way to get better is through deliberate practice.
Boost physical and mental health
Working from home can create manifestations of stress. And one way to offset these is through taking care of your mind and body.
Those aspects also face new challenges related to spending more time at home. Your level of physical activity might drop; you can experience a sense of social isolation. Even a little exercise each day will help.
Social media can help you stay in touch with your loved ones. But you also have to be mindful of the online disinhibition effect. People can behave differently in the virtual realm. Unchecked, this can lead to negative or even offensive behavior.
With the right approach, however, disinhibition can be benign. It leads to greater self-disclosure; you might be capable of better expression and divulging your emotions with people you trust.
Working from home gives you the chance to arrange your schedule as you see fit. Make sure you use this control to accommodate breaks for physical exercise and time to connect with others effectively. You’ll be able to improve your physical and mental health, which will give you greater resilience in the face of stress.