Tips For Working Remotely
Nearly Everything You Need To Know…
Tips For Working Remotely
Nearly Everything You Need To Know…
Work-from-home has been a default work setting for most of us for the past 2 years. Moving forward, many employers are pushing towards having a permanent remote or hybrid working environment. As such, here are a few tips for working remotely that every employee should know.
Challenges of working
1. Be aware of feeling isolated
Human beings are social creatures, and the interactions we have with colleagues at work are often a big part of that.
For many of us, a sudden shift from working in an office to working from home removes that social interaction from our lives and can leave us feeling isolated.
Even if you are working from home with your spouse and kids around you, you may still feel lonely professionally.
Research shows that workplace loneliness hurts job performance. You can become a less effective worker as co-workers find you less approachable and stop collaborating.
So what do isolation and loneliness look like?
There’s no one definitive sign – for many people, it starts with being more socially hyper-vigilant and losing some social skills. You may start feeling disconnected from the people around you, not just your coworkers. In serious cases, workplace isolation can seep into your personal life and affect your relationship with your loved ones.
Feeling isolated can produce negative consequences on your emotional health, your productivity, and team performance. Exacerbating this is that for many people, there’s a stigma associated with isolation, which makes hard to talk about this topic.
New research from Harvard suggests that feelings of social isolation are on the rise. Those hardest hit are older teens and young adults. Young people are at the age where they are making critical decisions about their professional and personal lives and relationships, and this can add to the stress and sense of isolation.
Many young people who reported serious loneliness also said they felt as if no one “genuinely cared” about them. The same report also suggests that lonely people often feel they are reaching out or listening to other people more than other people are reaching out or listening to them. This can be self-defeating as people will then assume they’re being taken advantage of.
2. Be aware of burnout
Remote work burnout is a problem many people have faced since the pandemic started.
While remote work has its perks such as zero travel time and being able to get up 5 minutes before a meeting, there is also a downside. Without a commute as a clear time divider, your days can turn into nights without you realising it.
Burnout can come in many forms. The first is the constant need to stay connected. Being at home gives everyone the option of being extremely flexible with their time. The downside is that it also does not give a clear gauge of when to log off. Many people often neglect to shut their laptops or work phones and just disconnect.
Some people may also think as there is no time needed for commute, they can use that time to put in some extra hours.
The result is that studies have shown that on average, people put in about 3 hours of extra work a day. It does not seem like much until you realize that is a whopping 15 extra hours a week!
These longer work hours contribute to the productivity gains that employers notice with a distributed team, but can also lead to higher-than-average rates of worker burnout. This eventually leads to long-term health and career regression.
3. Monitor physical wellbeing
One important tip for working remotely is to monitor your physical wellbeing while working from home.
Most employers provide ergonomic chairs and even sit stand desks in the office. However, when you work from home, you may not have a proper home office.
You could be working off your dining table and chair, or even your couch. Unfortunately none of these furniture are tailored for long sessions of work.
Poor ergonomics can lead to a variety of aliments, such as back pains, carpal tunnel syndrome, muscle aches and even high blood pressure. Even healthcare professionals are becoming alarmed.
According to an April 2020 Facebook survey from the American Chiropractic Association, 92 percent of chiropractors said that since the stay-at-home guidance began, patients report increased neck pain, back pain and other musculoskeletal issues.
“There was forced movement. And now all of a sudden that routine is gone,” said Scott Bautch, president of the American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Occupational Health. “There was not much transference of the work environment to the home environment.”
So if you know that you will be working from home long term, it’s worth your while to invest in quality ergonomic furniture.
4. Minimise disruptions
The home environment can get distracting, especially for those of us who have kids or live in a crowded household.
Kids may be run around and pop into your video calls, or you might get distracted by the sounds of the television at full blast.
Having these disruptions can increase stress in an employee working from home. You may feel like you are unable to get work done and are not being productive. This can eventually lead to unwanted tension in the household.
It is important to know learn to manage these disruptions, especially if they happen during working hours.
5. Career Progression
One question in many employees’ minds is whether remote workers could fall behind in their careers, if they continued working from home.
The answer is – it depends.
If you have an employer that prioritises your presence in the office, insisting on working from home could hinder your career progression. Companies such as JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have made clear that they expect their employees back in the office.
The latest CNBC|SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey reveals one key factor pulling workers back to the office, even if they might otherwise be more comfortable at home, is career advancement. More than 52% of employees expect those who work at the office to have better career opportunities in the future than those who work remotely.
But the good news is that while a minority of employers may insist on employees showing their face in the office, the majority of employers have recognised the benefits of flexible work, and allow their employees the freedom of choice to decide where they want to work.
And this seems to be the right move to motivate the workforce. A recent Gartner survey found that 43% of remote workers and 49% of hybrid workers were highly engaged, compared to 35% of on-site workers.
Allowing flexible work options also helps minority employees such as working mums or those with care responsibilities to participate in the workforce.
Tips for Working Remotely, Successfully
With all these factors in mind, you must be wondering how you can supercharge your career while working remotely. Here are a few tips for working remotely successfully:
1. Communicate Proactively
Good communication is the key to ensure your relationships, including work relationships, work well.
2. Structure Your Day
With the absence of a commute, some employees feel they should use the extra time to clock in more hours of work.
3. Take Breaks
One of most useful tips for working remotely is to take regular breaks during your work day.
For short breaks, a good rhythm could be 10 minutes for every hour. [find article on this]. During your break time, rest your eyes from your laptop screen, stand up and stretch your body to promote blood flow.
It’s easy to lose track of time, so to make this into a habit, you can make use of apps to keep track of your break time.
An especially important break to take is your lunch break. It may be tempting to resume work after a quick 10 minute bite, but would actually benefit from a longer break time here. Take time to have a proper lunch – this means not eating at your desk or in front of your laptop, but eating mindfully away from your work area.
Longer breaks allow your brain to recharge and rest, and can help you feel more focused and productive for the rest of the day.
4. Create a Dedicated Office Space
One of the biggest challenges many of us have in working from home is the lack a dedicated home office space.
Space is at a premium especially for city dwellers here in Asia, and many people end up working at their kitchen table or couch.
But working with an unergonomic set up substantially increases the risk of getting a repetitive stress injury (RSI). Common examples of RSI include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and herniated disk. These are all painful conditions that significantly affects your quality of life and requires expensive treatment.
But other than the risk of injuries, having a dedicated workspace in your home makes it easier to psychologically disconnect between work and rest. When you start viewing your bed as a work area, it makes if difficult to unwind and rest at night.
The best thing is that your dedicated workspace does not need to be an entire new home office. Instead, it can be as simple as finding an unused corner that you can fit a desk and an ergonomic chair into. This could include a corner of your living room, a narrow desk along the hallway or an area in your bedroom that you can block off with drapes.
You will find that this proper work set up goes a long way towards creating a productive and conducive environment for your work.
5. Exercise Regularly
Working from home affects our health in two ways.
The first is the lack of moderate physical activity due to the lack of a commute. When you work from home, your daily commute is likely to involve walking 3 steps from one room to another!
The second is increased sitting time due to the lack of structure of office life. Instead of walking between meetings and going out for lunch, we spend a lot more time just sitting down in front of our screens taking Zoom calls.
Together, the lack of physical activity increases your risk of metabolic problems. It increases the likelihood of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.
To counteract this, you can aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. Even brief bouts of activity, such as a 5 minutes walk during your lunch break, would help.
Another key is to make sure you do not sit for too long. As suggested above, try using tech solutions to remind you to take micro breaks during your work day.
And if you are fortunate enough to have an employer who subsidises gym memberships, check with your team if there is a corporate rate for gyms near you, or classes you could take. Take advantage of that discount to improve your physical health. If you’re not too keen on working out in a gym, a run in the park is always helpful, or stair climbing in your block.
This is a great way to also recharge and take time for yourself!
6. Plan Regular In-Person Meetings/Catch-Ups
While working from home has its perks, it is important to connect regularly with your fellow colleagues and friends.
Meeting colleagues and friends for coffee sessions and chats can help you adjust to a new way of working and living, particularly if you are new to working remotely.
For colleagues, you can arrange to work out of a co-working space together, or return to the office once or twice a week. This can help strengthen the bond and dynamic between team members as well as allow you to get to know each other better.
And do not forget to reach out to your friends. Try and plan a dinner or get together for some activities at least once a week, to make sure you get out of the house. While texting and calls are feasible, it always feels more real to have a catch-up over a good cup of coffee and some comfort food.
Follow These Tips for Working Remotely!
Working from home does not have to be isolating or stressful. We believe that adopting some of these tips for working remotely can make it more smooth sailing for you.