Updated: Nov 10, 2020
As so many of us are continuing to work remotely for the foreseeable future, plenty are likely getting really sick of it right about now. I get it. There are definitely some things I miss being 100 percent remote, especially seeing my employees and meeting clients face-to-face. But I’m definitely not doubting the team’s productivity. In fact, we’re even hiring. I’m trying my best to keep my employees motivated and excited about the work we’re doing for our clients during the pandemic, and trained a new employee in the midst of it. Above all, I put a lot of trust in them to get work done without me hovering over their shoulder. Having those kinds of core values in place goes a long way to navigate a time like this.
Here are a few ways to avoid burnout and prepare for a long-term work from home scenario:
1. Maintain boundaries. Keep work and home life as separate as possible. Make sure your family knows your schedule, especially those important client calls or meetings. And if you haven’t already, carve out a space for your work, even if that’s not an office. Make that space functional and keep it clean. Then make sure you “reset” the space before the workday ends, so you can start fresh in the morning.
Boundaries also work the other way around. Ensure you have some family time where you can put your phone on airplane mode, if you wish, or at least keep it out of arm’s length. By now you’ve probably established when you do your most important work and when family errands draw you away. Make sure both your family and your boss know when you’ll be less available.
2. Use more office-like communication. Sure, you’re not going on a two-week vacation to Europe anytime soon, but you should still continue to show your team members when you’re not available. So dust off that out-of-office reply if you’re heading out for the day, or even to lunch. If you’re the boss, make sure your employees feel empowered to do this. And if you’re not, make sure you’re communicating with your supervisor about when you may be unavailable.
3. Eat the alligator. A friend gave me this advice once, meaning to tackle the toughest job first thing in the morning or when you’re most fresh. Sure, that’s pretty generic advice, but it’s especially important now. That’s because research has shown that many workers kept occupied with smaller tasks that would make them feel or seem busy as we all moved to work-from-home. Jumping into the biggest task on your to-do list may seem daunting at first, but making progress will both help the company’s greater purpose and jumpstart your own feeling of accomplishment for the day, leading to higher productivity.
4. Keep (or revive) the commuting routine. All your best laid plans to workout every day may have fallen by the wayside, but a trip outside is key not only to your mental health, but reducing the stress in your work routine. If you have 10 minutes to walk the dog in the morning and think about your goals for the day, you’ll be much more mentally prepared to tackle them once you sit down at your computer. And taking a stroll around the block at the close of business offers a way to decompress at the end of the day, and allows you to switch off in a way that most WFH-ers don’t take advantage of.