By DeVry University
Recent events have brought cultural shifts that have changed both our personal and professional lives. One of the most significant of these changes has been the redefining of our workspace. For many of us, short-term remote work is shifting or has already shifted into a permanent work-from-home structure.
While some of us feel more productive working from home, others may just prefer the ability to spend less time commuting or more time at home with our families. Companies are also realizing that permanent remote work is a viable option for their workforces, as more remote workers mean less overhead costs from running an office.
For those of us transitioning out of the office for good, how do we define our workspaces to maintain our health and well-being? How do we separate our work life from our home life when both are in the same space? Here are our best pieces of advice for smoothly transitioning into permanent remote work.
Set Boundaries, Physically and Mentally
Although the flexibility to work from your living room can seem great at first, it can end up having a negative effect on your mind.
Your brain is capable of making powerful associations. While it may be tempting to work from comfortable places like the couch or even your bed, doing so can doing so can have a negative effect on your sleep. Your brain may learn to stop associating your bed with rest and re-associate it with activity, making it more difficult to wind down when you’re ready to go to sleep. This change in association can cause disruptions to your circadian rhythms, your quality of sleep or cause insomnia, which can mess with your productivity in the hours you’re awake.
Setting firm boundaries between where you sleep, work and relax can be helpful in setting location cues to your brain to switch modes. This can be tricky if you’re working with a small amount of space, but even a designated table or desk set up in the corner of the room can be helpful in creating these boundaries.
Just as your brain responds to physical boundaries, mental boundaries can signal to your brain it’s time to exit work mode and relax. Sticking to set working hours, taking full breaks and having an end-of-day routine are all ways to help reinforce boundaries in your brain and foster well-being while transitional to permanent remote work.
Defining Practical Work Hours
Working from home often allows greater flexibility on when and how long you work, depending on your employer. While you may have to adjust your schedule at times to accommodate a meeting or work-related facetime with a colleague, setting practical work hours is an important part of maintaining work boundaries and setting yourself up for success when working from home.
A good place to start is by setting up your calendar. Block off your non-working hours including time in the morning and evening, lunch, small breaks or blocks of uninterrupted work time. Putting blocks of unbookable time on your calendar helps protect you from losing time to meetings or calls that may interrupt your concentration and productivity when working from home.
If part of your job involves frequent meetings, try to schedule meeting times within certain hours of the day, and only accept or schedule meetings that fall within that time period, if possible. Doing so may help you stay on track, avoid working late and prevent burnout.
Have an After-Work Routine
Many of us use our commute home to decompress after work. When you transition into permanent remote work, that time is lost.
Having a regular end-of-day routine when working from home can be another way to utilize your brain's associative functions and create a clear divide between work time and home time. After you finish work, always follow your routine to decompress.
This could include reading a chapter from your current book, doing a short yoga sequence, taking a walk or even making a cup of tea and savoring it before continuing on with your evening. Steadily, your brain will begin to associate this routine with ending the workday and transitioning into home mode.
Working from home can be a challenge if you’re used to spending time with coworkers or friends at work. Luckily, technology has made staying connected with our peers and colleagues much easier than it used to be. There are a variety of online communication tools that allow for chat or video calling that can be incredibly useful if you’re moving to permanent remote work, and can help you stay connected to your teammates. Ask to be added to team group chats if you aren’t already or make a point to join company-wide social hour calls if your company hosts them.
If you feel the need to get out of the house but still have to work, consider joining a local co-working space or work out of a public place like a coffee shop. That way, you get to be social and still be productive.
Ask for Help
An important part of maintaining your well-being when transitioning to permanent remote work is knowing when to ask for help. While you may not be able to drop into your manager or a coworker’s office, sending someone an email or chat message can be just as quick. Making sure you’re asking for the support you need, for yourself or for work-related tasks, can help you stay more balanced and less stressed while working from home.
Make Working From Home Work For You
Working from home can have its pro’s and con’s, but knowing how your brain works, how often you need to rest and what kinds of things keep you focused will help you create the right mental associations and keep you motivated throughout the workday.
Work From Home, Learn From Home
At DeVry, we offer flexible learning options that allow you to balance your work and personal commitments with your education. Our programs are available 100% online and classes start every 8 weeks. Learn how we can help you take the next step in your education.