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The challenges of working from home with some remedies

The challenges of working from home with some remedies

Working remotely can be a dream come true for many, especially those with long commutes to work, but it can also present challenges. One year into our global pandemic, most businesses allow their employees to work from home, but much is still unknown about the short and long-term effects that come with working from home (WFH).
Laurel Farrer, founder of the Remote Work Association and CEO of Distribute Consulting, has said that preliminary studies around complications from WFH can include isolation and loneliness, micro-management and time-management burnout and even digital communications fatigue.

Studies show biggest problem with WFH is dropped wi-fi and poor internet connection
Not everyone has the luxury of purchasing nor has the access to high-speed internet. In rural areas, the signal might not be as strong as it would be in the office. While a small issue for most, it can become a headache for some resulting in a loss of productivity due to spending too much time fixing internet connection. Try reaching out to your IT department to trouble-shoot possible solutions.

Distractions at home result in a loss of productivity
While some find working from home to be an asset with less distractions, others find it to be the complete opposite. Kids, pets or even household tasks like cleaning up or doing laundry can eat away at your time and lessen productivity. Especially during lock down times, make sure you are keeping your stress levels in check with vitamin B12:   


Less Collaboration
With zero “in the flesh” co-workers, the lack of peer socializing can present a real challenge, especially if you are an extravert. Many employees are used to bouncing ideas off other co-workers. Without that office to share opinions, ideas or just to socialize, trying to problem solve or work collaboratively on your own can lead to mental fatigue and burnout. Try arranging to have a colleague or two on speed dial during the work day—someone you can run an idea by quickly and get input from.

Communication with others can be misconstrued, especially over emails or instant messaging, while online meetings are exhausting
Companies are turning to Slack, messaging boards, e-mail and video chat to communicate quickly, but setting up online meetings takes away from work that could be done within a few minutes if everyone were back in the office. In addition, if an employee isn’t active or is unresponsive on channels, trying to get a hold of them can get time-consuming. What was a 5 second verbal task at the office, can now be a major delay for a task to get done.

But enough about the problems. Here are some strategies to cope.

Create a dedicated workstation
Refrain from using your couch or bed as a workstation as those can be major distractions or considered “leisure time” spots. We all might not have an area we can use exclusively for work, but find somewhere (for example, the kitchen table) that will keep you motivated and productive.

Some say sticking to your regular office routine helps with WFH blues

Wake up and get out of those pyjamas and to feel presentable and in a mental space to work. Grab yourself a cup of coffee or your regular morning beverage as though you are at the office. Follow the same routine with emails, calls and meetings. Schedule in your regular coffee breaks and tea-time. Get your hot drinks here:    


Structure your day like you would if you were in the office
If before you would come into the office and make yourself a tea, then try to stick with that schedule to keep you focused on the tasks at hand. If you normally take a 10 minute walk after lunch, do so at home as well.

Plan your productivity
Take advantage of those morning hours when we are most productive and in the right headspace versus in the afternoon when we are drained from the morning tasks. Plan out what you need to focus on for tomorrow’s day in the afternoon, so you know what you are getting yourself into. It helps ease your mind knowing what tomorrow will bring. Do you usually get an afternoon slump?  Help your “brain fog” and get your focus back on track:     


It is okay to take a break
Whether it’s stepping out to grab a coffee or to just throw a load of laundry in, it is okay to take a quick break and it is ok if people don’t get a hold of you immediately. Back in the office it was okay to slip out to go to the washroom or even get some fresh air. The same applies for WFH: We are all allowed to take a break to reset and refresh our mind.

In fact, take water breaks and snack breaks
Hydrating with water often throughout the day keeps your mind and body fresh. Keep your water bottle handy. Although “Covid snacking” has gotten a bad rap, try mindful snacking during your work shift—a small snack once between breakfast and lunch and then again a few hours before dinner. These pick-me-ups are gems:    


Matching your music to your work

If you are the type of person to be focused with some classical music in the background, then set up that playlist and have it for an intended period of time. Or, if you are the type of person that needs those upbeat songs, then choose those. Music can motivate and help us focus on tasks.

Finding what mechanisms work for you will help you cope with WFH. With 2021 in full swing, working remotely is here to stay and will likely stay well past COVID times. Let’s learn how to embrace it and thrive despite its challenges.

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