One thing we can be sure of is that recent events have changed the world forever. And even after things go back to normal – and one day they definitely will – many changes that the pandemic wrought will likely still be in place.
The changes to our work environment seem to be some of those that may very well stay even after social distancing isn’t a necessity anymore.
While some have taken the new way of working in stride and blossomed, others have found that the isolation brought on with mandatory remote working has lowered their productivity, fed into their anxiety, heightened the stress levels.
If you’re one of the people who’ve found out that the office environment suits them much better than working from home – you’re definitely not alone.
The effects this mandatory long-distance work environment has had on people varies from individual to individual. Some people might, require more serious help from a professional. Most will likely only need to change up a few things in their routine to alleviate the effects mandatory remote work has brought them.
Here are some of our personal favorites on how to do this:
- Use mother nature to your advantage
- Vary your working environment
- Level up your lunch making skills
- Create a vision board
- Adopt a pet
- Use apps to reconnect with your colleagues
- Pair up with like minded workers
- Involve your friends or family
- Optimise your work from home office
Small changes to remote working habits help combat loneliness
1. Use mother nature to your advantage
Social distancing doesn’t mean sitting among the same four walls all day. Even if it seems scary with what’s going on out there, anybody is going to go mad if they’re stuck at home all day.
So after your workday is done (try to end it according to your schedule and not at midnight as many long-distance workers have found themselves doing these days), take a small walk around your neighborhood.
If you have a park nearby, then sit there and just… detox mentally for a while. But even walking around the neighborhood is fine – as long as you’re out of the house.
At your workstation, a quick win that promotes stress relief can be to incorporate a houseplant or two to feel connected with the natural world even when you are deskbound.
2. Vary your work environment
This is something freelancers often do and the general work from home army must learn to do. There’s a reason, after all, that that guy with a laptop at Starbucks is an archetype now.
Being around other people helps immensely – even if you don’t interact.
Most of us usually do not know all of our colleagues, but sharing space with them is an integral part of what creates the “office atmosphere” you’ve gotten used to.
So go to a local restaurant, a nice café, hell go to the park. Be around people (just, you know, responsibly – keep up the social distancing).
And as a bonus, remember – a cup of good coffee and a piece of cake have never hurt anybody.
3. Level up your lunch making skills
On the theme of food being a great healer. There’s a reason so many people started developing their cooking skills during quarantine. It works!
Good food is always something to look forward to, and the process of planning and preparing your own sustenance can be meditative – there’s less time to stress about work duties and you’re left with something tasty in exchange. What’s not to like?
4. Create a vision board
This is not the long-term vision board that covers all your life, but rather a short-term day in/day out one about what you want to accomplish in the near future.
The vision board can be for a week, a month, or a year but what’s important is to decorate it with stickers, washi tape, photographs, or postcards. Allow yourself to feel like a carefree kid again and swat off any lingering sensations of self-doubt.
The point is to create something that will allow you to look forward to the brighter future – and that brighter future can be about the smallest of things: a piece of your favorite cake (food again…I know…), a Sunday movie night with friends over Zoom, or even a weekend trip sometime soon.
5. Adopt a pet
Okay, so this doesn’t sound like a small change, but it could be!
When thinking about a pet, most of us imagine a dog or a cat. And that’s perfectly fine! If you’re capable of taking care of one – it would be a great companion. There are multiple studies out there all about how getting a pet helps people combat stress and loneliness.
But if you don’t think you’d be able to take care of someone who requires almost as much attention and dedication – then you could start small. Get a budgie or even a goldfish. The idea here is to share your space with a living being that needs you to pay attention to it at least a couple of times a day.
Taking care of someone, even if they cannot reciprocate like a cat or a dog would, is bound to make you feel less alone. After all, life depends on you now.
6. Use apps to reconnect with your colleagues
Working from home alone doesn’t just have an emotional toll, it might also have a toll on your work results.
In fact, getting feedback from your managers, colleagues, or clients has become ever more important because chances for miscommunication have increased.
Use that new need for increased and more precise communication to your advantage! Write to them more often, try to schedule Zoom meetings more often (maybe ask your manager if you could have a meeting at the beginning or end of each day?).
The idea is to bring some, but not all of the office into your home.
7. Pair up with like minded people
There are many people out there who struggle with remote-work loneliness as you do. In fact, some of them might already be your own colleagues.
Many communities have sprung up on the internet, where people like you gather together and talk about it. Join one of them, or maybe create one at your own company (unless it’s already in place).
Talking about your troubles with people who understand works – and it’s no different this time.
8. Involve your friends or family
If you have friends who’re also stuck working from home, then even better. You could help out each other – chances are they’re feeling just as lonely as you do.
Even if they’re the type who’s found working from home suits them, it’s not impossible they’re still lonely.
Skype with them, Zoom with them, just call them (even if you don’t like talking on the phone). Is it the same as going out together to have a brunch or see a movie? No. But it’s not worse – just different.
9. Optimize your work from home office
This may sound ridiculous, but it’s been proven over and over again, that organizing your workspace reduces stress and increases productivity.
The problem is, many seem to think “organizing” means “sterilizing”, which is absolutely wrong.
The idea is to create a workspace that brings comfort to you. Decorate it however you see fit: surround it with photos of loved ones, grab a cactus, put fresh flowers in a vase on the desk every day, etc.