Prior to the pandemic, Weinstein Spira allowed everyone to work from home once a week as part of the firm’s work-life balance philosophy. Now that we are working from home every day, there are some ways to avoid “remote work burnout.” Since I moved during the pandemic, I went through a period of not being settled into a good routine, workwise. In this blog post, I will share what I learned. Basically, there are three ways to implement new habits that ensure a healthy work environment while confined to your house.
1. Have a dedicated workspace
Find a spot in your home to designate as an “exclusive” work area, whether it be a separate room/office, the dining room table, or even a corner on the couch. The important thing is to be away from leisure activities, so you feel like you are at work with minimal distractions and temptations. Leave your computer in that same spot to avoid being scattered all over the house and to make a clear distinction between working mode and the rest of your home life. When done for the day, clean up your work area, so you are ready to start fresh the next morning. During the evening, shut off work mode by electronically and physically disconnecting from your workspace.
2. Stick to a regular workday
When working from home, it is easy to feel like the workday never ends. It can be stressful having longer than normal work hours over an extended period. If your company has set core hours, it is easy to follow that schedule. But left to your own devices, determine when you will start and end your day and set reminder alarms to support you. As for at-home work attire, it is probably not necessary to wear your usual wardrobe, but I do recommend getting dressed in the morning with comfortable clothing (perhaps a bit dressier if having a video conference meeting). And just like you might do at the office, take regular breaks to stretch or walk around the block, and grab (or order) a coffee.
3. Take time off from work
It is easy to keep working 24/7/365 at home, especially with travel limitations and, in some cases, curfews during these unprecedented times. Typical vacations may not apply, particularly if you are uncomfortable getting on an airplane. But you can still go on a road trip, take your family camping or try a staycation with no working for one or more days to simply recharge. On any given day, taking time to work out, breaking for lunch (away from your computer), etc. helps to split up the day so that you are not working all the time. The same goes for boundaries in general, i.e. make yourself stop checking emails at certain times of the day. This will give your eyes a rest from the screen and serve as a mental break, as well.
We may have reduced stress with no commute to the office. However, working from home has its own stressors that can lead to burnout. Therefore, we need to be more deliberate about our workday, where and when we conduct business, to stay on an even keel. My final advice is – don’t let work take over your life. Stay in control of it and keep those boundaries in place. We can get through this, together!