Abandoned notebooks. Empty desks. Post-it notes with to-dos that have been long forgotten. Office plants that have surely dried up. Just one year ago many office workers across the U.S. traded in their heels for slippers, their favorite work trousers for their most coveted pajama pants and their commute time for at-home schooling – to shelter in place until further notice due to the onset of COVID-19.
While there are many positive things that have emerged during this time, it’s no secret that many people have also hit a few stumbling blocks.
"No matter what your personal circumstances, quarantine, social distancing and remote work have been challenging," says author, speaker and workplace happiness expert Jennifer Moss. "Now is a good time to reassess and take steps to revive your routine. By being proactive, you can help fuel positivity and productivity in all aspects of life."
To help inspire, Moss shares her top five ways to stay positive and better manage a remote lifestyle:
1. Block time for self-care
Chronic stress of pushing through the pandemic can cause brain fog. Examples of brain fog include difficulty getting motivated, losing your focus easily, searching for your words when trying to communicate and having difficulty making up your mind. At times, small tasks can feel overwhelming.
To prevent brain fog, take a break from work, school or other must-dos and schedule time to do something you enjoy for 10 to 15 minutes. Without these breaks you’ll end up less productive and less engaged at work overall. This inevitably forces you to expend more mental energy to reach the same goals. A quick break will help you refresh and refocus.
2. Take a fake commute
Although long and unpredictable commutes can increase stress, there were aspects of commuting that may have been beneficial, such as listening to music or reading a book. Instead of doing these enjoyable activities at home, many people have simply replaced this lost time with more work.
Rather than working from the time you wake until dinner, consider being more mindful and try scheduling a fake commute instead. That means taking the same amount of time you would have spent in your car or on the subway and replacing it with a walk, listening to your favorite podcast, or spending time with loved ones. Did you know the average roundtrip commute is 48 minutes? While working from home, reschedule that time to focus on your wellbeing.
3. Reduce video meeting fatigue
The average worker has experienced a 24% increase in meetings since the start of the pandemic, and video meetings can be especially taxing. Overall, meeting fatigue has shown to increase stress and reduce productivity. To lessen the effects of meeting fatigue for yourself and your team, ask these questions:
- Is this meeting necessary? If yes, then ask:
- Does it have to be a video call?
- Does it have to be longer than 30 minutes?
- Which attendees are essential?
- Can you turn off the cameras and use photos or avatars?
- Can you do an audio-only conference for a screen break?
Of course, some video meetings are necessary. For those, consider starting with a check-in by asking: How are people feeling? Does anyone have a back-to-back call? What time of day is it? If you’re leading the meeting, set a timer so you can end promptly.
4. Work away for the day
Kids, spouses, roommates and even pets add new elements to your workday that can distract from your concentration. When you need time to focus, consider a change of scenery. For example, WorkSpaces by Hilton is a work-from-hotel solution for individuals seeking office space to boost efficiency during their workday. This is a great option for when you have an important meeting or presentation, need to fully focus, or just need to get away.
Through WorkSpaces by Hilton, you can enjoy a private, standard guestroom during your work hours and access Wi-Fi that isn’t taxed by everyone in the household. Plus, you have access to hotel amenities, including business centers, gyms and pool areas, where available. Visit workspacesbyhilton.com to book a room or learn more.
5. Unique times require flexibility.
Always remember, people are not working at the same productivity and engagement levels as they did before the pandemic started. In addition to chronic stress and anxiety, people are juggling competing demands, like homeschooling and not having access to daycare.
It’s important to have realistic expectations of what demands can be met for yourself and your colleagues. Create daily and weekly goals and have regular, honest conversations with your managers about work-life balance. If you are a manager at an organization, keep this in mind for employees as well as yourself and embrace a responsive approach to these conversations. What's more, keep this in mind with your family also, as your kids and partner may also require some flexibility at home, too.
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