For many people, working remotely is the new normal. Companies have temporarily made the shift to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus and promote social distancing. While working from the comfort of a home has its perks, it also comes with a unique set of challenges. No longer do people feel the lively energy of an office or engage in face-to-face interactions with their coworkers or have a fixed schedule to follow. The truth is, working from home can be physically isolating, which means now more than ever it’s important to do activities that foster personal connection and create some sense of normalcy.
Use your Technology
Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation, says Amy Wachholtz, PhD, CU Denver’s director of clinical health psychology and associate professor of psychology. Thanks to technology, we can virtually connect with our peers throughout the day. Pick up the phone and call a coworker, schedule a video chat with coworkers, keep a group text going with coworkers, or organize a virtual office party. “It’s not the same as hanging out with friends in the same room,” Wachholtz said, “but it can help get you through this difficult time.”
In University Communications, for example, our team blocked out an hour in the day for a Zoom video chat about work and life updates (see proof below). We went over funny stories from the week (like competing for toilet paper on a Walmart run), shows we have been binge watching, and books we are reading. Some of us even showed off our four-legged friends. Reconnecting with our peers on a personal level was a strong reminder that we are all in this together, and we will all get through this together.
Start a Gratitude Journal
During trying times it’s easy to get lost in negative thoughts, but it’s also so important to remember the silver linings—whether it’s good health, a stable job, strong personal relationships, more time to unwind, or more time to spend with family. Wachholtz recommends writing down three (new) things that you are grateful for every day. These can be external, such as a friend or partner, or internal, such as skills or personal strengths.
Pick a Place
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you have to stay in your pajamas all day and work from bed or the couch. Try to find a dedicated spot to work, such as a desk or table, that you can leave when you’re off the clock. Also try sticking to a routine—wake up at the same time, get dressed, start the work day, get a workout in, stop the work day, etc. This will help make your new work schedule a little more normal.
In an office setting it’s common to take breaks to catch up with coworkers and move around. That can be hard to do if you’re working from home, but it’s still just as important for your sanity and productivity. Psychology Today recommends adding a daily calendar invite for 10 minutes at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., or using Clockify, a free software that tracks how long you’ve been on your computer. Taking breaks from your computer screen will help your mood, and your eyes!