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What to consider when it comes to working remotely: stress, well-being and productivity

What to consider when it comes to working remotely: stress, well-being and productivity

What is remote working?

Remote working can take numerous different names, such as ‘telecommuting’, ‘teleworking’, ‘agile working’, ‘working from home’- the list goes on, but they all mean the same thing: a working style that allows employees to work from anywhere outside of their usual office or workplace.

There are various reasons you may choose to work remotely or that you may even need to do so, like in the current situation we are all in. Whatever the reason, the great thing is that nowadays technology is so advanced that many of us can do our jobs from the comfort of our own home. Although it has its benefits, it is important to consider a few things when you start working remotely in order to look after yourself and that includes your stress levels, productivity and, most importantly, well-being.

Stress & well-being

Many people think that working from home offers you the ultimate work-life balance since it can offer a more relaxed environment, provide more flexibility, cut out commute time, save travel costs and spend more time with loved ones. However, a United Nations 2017 study finds that actually those who work from home report higher levels of stress. How can this be? There are certain challenges of working remotely that many do not usually think of but that have an adverse effect on your well-being. One of the biggest contributors to this stress is a lack of structure which blurs the lines between work and home life. Flexible work schedules or hours can soon become overtime as you struggle to ignore distractions and get work done. Likewise, this lack of structure can have an impact on sleeping patterns, and before you know it, you’re going to bed too late and not getting enough sleep which is harmful to both your work productivity and your health. Another factor affecting well-being when working remotely is isolation; this is something not to be taken lightly. Yes, in some ways, working in isolation can be beneficial for productivity and concentration due to fewer distractions getting in your way, however loneliness can also increase stress and be detrimental for your mental health.

How to combat stress and focus on working from home productivity

The key to making the most of your time working remotely is to keep stress levels low. Of course, it will be different for everyone and some things may not work for you but here’s our top tips for working remotely:

Get up and go

The early bird really does catch the worm when it comes to working from home. We recommend you get started early and either dig right into your to-do list as soon as you wake up in the morning or start the day with an energising activity; this could be meditation, a walk, a run, whatever works best for you. This will not only help you stay in a regular routine but can make your mornings less sluggish and make the shift from your bed to your desk less jarring. Treat every day like you’re going into the office: set an alarm, wake up on time, make coffee, shower, get dressed, and you’ll definitely feel better for it.  

Implement structure to your days

Losing track of time and falling behind on tasks is easy to do. The best way to help this is to implement structure to your days and give yourself a plan to follow, perhaps with an online calendar or daily planner. Usually, you’ll find yourself having a face-to-face meeting or two to break up your day, however that’s not something you have when out of office. You can fill your personal calendar with tasks you need to do in a set timeframe, schedule breaks and add reminders; segmenting your day will help make it more manageable and help you get things done. Although we recommend sticking to a plan, it is also a great idea to capitalise on your most productive periods and complete your more challenging tasks during this time. For instance, if you know you’ll be tired after lunchtime, save your less taxing tasks for that time of day.

Pick a finish time for each day

Following on from having a structured day, a definitive finish time is just as important to include. In order to maintain a work-life balance, you must ensure that you finish work before a certain time and do not allow yourself to continuously work late, which can lead to burn out. Burn out refers to a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress, commonly caused by working long hours. Structuring your days and scheduling a planned finish time can help you to stay feeling fresh for longer.

Take clear breaks

When working remotely, it can be easy to forget to take breaks or not take them properly. By ‘properly’, we mean taking yourself away from your computer screen, turn off your devices and taking the time to interact with other people, going for a walk outside to get some fresh air or nourishing yourself with a healthy meal or snack.

Define your workspace

Even if you do not have a home office or even a designated work desk, it is important to establish your own workspace. Instead of cosying up on the couch or slouching in bed, you need to find yourself a table and comfortable chair to associate your work with. It is crucial to separate your workspace from your relaxing zone. Working in bed means that once it’s time to go to sleep, the stresses from the day can still linger and increase your stress levels or affect your sleep.

Manage your social media usage

Social media is designed to be convenient, meaning you can easily switch tabs on your computer or have access instantly via an app on your phone. However, this can be seriously detrimental to your work productivity. In order to counteract this and reduce the time spent aimlessly browsing social media, there are a few things you can try. Why not log out of all accounts so that you must manually sign in in order to access social media? Or try putting your phone in another room so you have to actively think and get up before checking your phone before you do.  

Use music as your motivator

The music we listen to can have a huge impact on the way we feel and how productive we are. Perhaps, try lyric-free music which is designed to help you concentrate or upbeat music to help you motivate yourself.

How does technology help you through the challenges of working remotely?

Technology plays a key role in how we work remotely and without it, it would not be possible. By using video conferencing, online chats and shared online documents, for example, we are able to work with others who may also be working at home or from the office. Technology is what keeps us all connected.

Technology at FDM

At FDM, we’re always looking to hire new talent and help them start their career in technology with some of the world’s most forward-thinking organisations. We’ll provide you with expert training, hands-on experience and support you every step of the way. Find out more about our technology graduate programme.

Images used courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio, Burst, and bongkarn thanyakij.

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