Sydney Gideon, LSW

While working from home may be the new normal during this time period, many people have been working from home prior to the spread of COVID-19. For anyone making the switch from an office setting, working in the field, or traveling to then working from home, it is likely a huge adjustment regardless of what’s happening in the outside world. It’s important to implement new self-care strategies in order to make working from home a positive and productive experience. Shifting our expectations and perspectives are necessary to account for the external changes impacting life inside our homes. Below are three great ways to create as seamless of a transition as possible from our old normal to new normal. 

Create a Healthy and Balanced Routine

When working from somewhere outside of the home, an office for example, it’s easy to identify when we’re supposed to working, when we’re at the office, and when it’s time to relax, when we get home. However, when your home turns into your office it’s hard to ensure your relaxation time doesn’t turn into work time as well. Boundaries can become blurry and we may find ourselves becoming distracted during the day and working much later into the night than usual. Establishing a daily structure is vital to maintaining balance within all aspects of your life. 

Past research has shown individual’s working from home are more likely to experience burnout than individual’s working in the office. To combat this, create a workspace within the home that’s separate from other areas you spend time. Ideally, having a workstation or home office can make this differentiation easy, however, creating this space may require some creativity as many of us are living in apartments that hinder our access to space. In addition to creating a workspace, set a schedule with a daily routine that works best for you and set the appropriate boundaries with whomever you cohabitate with to accommodate this schedule. Implementing a set routine is a great way to ensure the people in your home are able to adhere to these boundaries. At the end of the day, clear your workspace, shut down your computer, turn off email notifications and allow yourself to transition from work mode to relaxation mode. Many clients have incorporated “commuting” into their daily routines, taking a walk in the morning and evening to transition into and out of work. 

Redefine what Success/Productivity Looks Like

Many of us align our definitions of productivity with how much time we spend at the office. When working from home, determining what being successful and productive looks like can be very disorienting. It’s important to offer ourselves self-compassion and understanding while making this transition as it will likely take some time to find our footing. Take some time to redefine what success and productivity looks like when working from home. It likely looks different than in the office. Bring your focus to the priorities of your job position and set realistic goals from there moving forward. Just because we’re working from our homes doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be taking breaks throughout the day, stepping away from our workspace for lunch, incorporating movement (walking, exercise), and engaging in social interactions. All of these things are actually important to success as is professional development/support during work hours. Scientifically, life balance = success. 

Change How we View Connection

When working from home we tend to miss out on the day-to-day interactions with colleagues that we typically have in an office setting. It requires much more effort to stay in touch with coworkers, friends and family when the interactions do not take place face-to-face. However, it also opens up the opportunity to create a deeper connection with ourselves, which will allow for more fulfilling relationships with others. Using this time for self-reflection, connecting with nature, and creating a comfortable home can allow us to better connect with others as well. It’s important to then make the time to incorporate interpersonal interaction/connection into our routine. Calling someone while making dinner or cleaning, having a Zoom dinner date with friends/family, going on walks (whether socially distant or otherwise), are all great examples of ways to incorporate human connection into our daily routines. 

While working from home may not be everyone’s ideal, there are ways to make it a positive experience. We’ll all get through this together. 

If you’ve found yourself struggling with productivity or acclimating to working from home, it may be useful to try counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!