The pandemic has changed so much about the way people live — and especially the way people work. As remote positions have become more and more common, many people have adjusted to either full-time WFH schedules or “hybrid” models. In fact, 62 percent of American workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher say they are able to do their jobs remotely.
Beyond lessening one’s exposure to COVID-19, working from home has a number of other benefits, including increased overall flexibility, less pressure related to appearance, and an increased ability to attend to physical and mental health. While remote work definitely has its perks, there are drawbacks as well. Below are three of the most common — and how to fix them.
Setting Healthy Work-Life Boundaries
Boundaries between work life and personal life become increasingly murky when work is home and home is work. “People who work from home are working longer hours, less likely to take breaks, and having a harder time shutting off from work,” says Shanna Hocking, principal of Hocking Leadership, an organizational leadership and fundraising consultancy. To combat this problem, Hocking recommends ending each day with a distinct task that signifies the end of your workday or scheduling nightly activities that require you to step away from that keyboard.
Hocking also encourages remote employees to make sure they turn off their notifications for email and other messaging services to fully be able to unplug. “You might even consider deleting work email from your phone on weekends. If someone really needs you, they know how to reach you,” Hocking says. “Prioritize your time and energy so you can manage working from home for the long term.”
Getting Distracted by Housework
“People who work from home face unique distractions such as housework. I suggest having a dedicated workspace (even if that’s a corner of your dining room table!) and putting a few of your favorite things around your computer to help you stay focused,” says Hocking. She notes that it’s important not to view your WFH situation as a black-and-white entity but rather to find a way to fuse your professional life and your home life together.
“Instead of seeing everything as an either/or, see if you can effectively integrate — but focus on the most important priorities, not random things that can be done another time,” says Hocking. For example, you could schedule putting your laundry in the wash right before your first morning meeting and switch it to the dryer before your mid-morning meeting.
“This way you can leverage one of the benefits of working from home while creating boundaries for what is most important,” says Hocking.
Working from home can be lonely, especially for those who live by themselves. “People who work from home tend to feel a little isolated. I suggest proactively creating plans for yourself to stay in touch with your network,” says Hocking. You could schedule virtual or IRL coffee dates, take morning walks where you call your best friend, or use your lunchtime to go the gym with a workout buddy.
“This will give you energy and feelings of connection to carry with you through your day of working from home. Also make a commitment to yourself to reach out to someone new at least once a month, such as a mentor, industry colleague, or someone you’d like to get to know better, so you can continue building relationships,” Hocking says. “It can help to remember you are a part of something bigger than yourself.”