Working remotely has been on the increase for several years now. A recent survey of 2,500 remote workers in the USA found that 99% of them would prefer to continue working remotely for at least some of the time for the remainder of their professional careers, while the UK’s Office for National Statistics predicts that 50% of the British workforce will be working remotely by 2020.
However, the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the government’s legislation surrounding self-isolation means that remote working has become a reality for a much greater percentage of the population – and much sooner than expected. For many people unused to this state of affairs, the stress and disruption of working remotely can have a detrimental impact on their mental health.
For the extroverts among us, getting out into the world and interacting with our fellow humans is a major factor for morale and productivity, meaning that self-isolation can strike a huge blow to both. On the other hand, those who are part of a family may find that exposure to others in the household for 24 hours a day places a great strain on their work as well as on their personal relationships.
Fortunately, there are some steps which you can take to alleviate the potentially harmful effects of remote working and bolster your mental health.
Here are a handful of tips which can help you to navigate this uncharted territory and make sure you come through the upcoming period of uncertainty with your mood, motivation and mental well-being fully intact.
1. Organise your workspace
It might sound overly simplistic, but the phrase “tidy room, tidy mind” really does hold water. That’s even more true when it comes to a home office in which you’ll be spending the majority of your day. If possible, segregate your workspace from other parts of the house, away from flatmates or family members, as well as moving out of the bedroom altogether. In any case, reorganise your workstation to allow you to perform to the best of your abilities in these trying circumstances.
2. Set yourself goals
While no one expects you to be as industrious or as efficient as you would be during your normal working routine, there’s no reason to let your productivity levels slip beyond your control. At the beginning of each working day, set yourself goals for the coming hours and budget time to achieve each one. Once you do, you’ll feel a sense of satisfaction that’s absolutely key to maintaining a healthy state of mind.
3. Isolation doesn’t mean abandonment
With the wonders of modern technology, working away from the office doesn’t mean you have to cut yourself off from it completely. In fact, creating a virtual team can help you and your colleagues to keep in contact. You can share documents and data instantaneously, communicate and collaborate across a number of different channels and evaluate progress online at the touch of a button.
While email is the obvious go-to tool, it can be quite impersonal. We recommend using video chat regularly for more human interactions.
As experts in communication and collaboration tools, this is certainly an area where Aura can help. If you need help mobilising your workforce, please reach out.
4. Organise regular informal catch ups
As well as using technology to streamline work matters, it’s a good idea to leverage its power to maintain human contact. And it doesn’t have to be all business.
At Aura, we have introduced virtual Coffee Catch Ups on Tuesdays at 10am and Thirsty Thursdays at 4pm. The team logs in via video conference for an informal chat. Topics of discussion range from what to watch on Netflix to our current state of mind and anxieties surrounding the world in general, which is incredibly beneficial right now. You can even introduce family members.
Try it for yourself. This helps recreate the relaxed interaction of a water-cooler conversation from the comfort of your own home.
5. Do away with distractions
While tech can be a godsend at the moment, it can also be a devilish temptation for idle thumbs. With no manager watching over your shoulder, it can be very tempting to become distracted by the TV, the internet or the contents of your fridge.
As well as impacting negatively on your work output, an overload of information from news stations or social media can overwhelm you and stimulate anxiety. Switch off all technology that isn’t crucial to the task at hand and only take coffee or snack breaks at set times.
6. Stick to a routine
Speaking of programmes, it’s a great idea to create and stick to a routine each day. The body thrives upon one – and the mind does too. Despite the fact that there’s no commute to undertake, you should still set your alarm for a reasonable time each morning and get dressed as if you were heading to the office. Doing so will create a disconnect between your professional and your personal life that’s essential to staying balanced and level-headed.
7. Schedule in downtime
Just as it’s advisable to map out which work objectives you aim to tackle and at which hours, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of taking time out to focus on yourself. This can be something as simple as watching an episode of your favourite TV programme or reading a chapter of the latest bestseller to give your mind a rest. Alternatively, there are plenty of meditation and mindfulness apps which can be a great way to stay in touch with your inner calm.
8. Don’t neglect nature
Another way to relax your brain and rejuvenate your outlook is by getting out of the house once a day. Ideally, you’ll be able to incorporate a green space into your routine, but if you live in an urban environment without any opportunities to immerse yourself in nature, even a walk around the block can do you the world of good. Don’t undervalue the power of a clear blue sky on your psyche.
9. Exercise to energise
The health of the body is intrinsically linked to the health of the mind, so staying in shape will do wonders for both your physical and your mental well-being. Combining your times outdoors with a run, cycle or brisk walk will get your pulse racing and release endorphins into your brain at the same time. This will give you just the kick you need to continue your day with a clear head and a healthy mind. Just be sure to follow Government advice and stay two metres from anyone you pass.
Need help with your remote team?
While we can’t make the fridge or phone any less tempting, the team at Aura can make remote working a whole lot easier for you and your team.
We specialise in providing bespoke communication and collaboration solutions for businesses across the world. To find out more, get in touch.