5 Tips for Healthy Working From Home Habits
Mar 19, 2020 Katie Rosenblum
As health officials encourage social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), millions of Americans have unexpectedly found themselves working from home. For many, telecommuting may be unfamiliar territory—a whole new world of video conferencing and working from the couch.
It can also lead to cabin fever, or feelings of anxiety or restlessness.
Whether you've been working remotely for years or this is your first time, we've got tips to make working from home work for you.
Tip 1: Keep a routine
Working remotely shouldn't mean changing your hours. Try to maintain the same working hours as usual, including starting and ending the workday at the same time and taking a lunch break.
Some people also find it helpful to get up and get ready for work as if they're actually going into the office—shower, get dressed, have breakfast. This can help you feel ready for work and can start the day off on a productive note.
"We have such a structured scheduled at work, it can also be helpful to actually take the time to write out a schedule at home to make it more concrete for yourself," says Jonathan Vickburg, mental health supervisor for Cedars-Sinai Share & Care.
Tip 2: Create a workspace
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to set up a designated space where you can work. Even if you don't have a home office or a desk, it's helpful to create a small space where you will be during work hours.
It's beneficial to have a separate space to work so that at the end of the day, you can shut down and disconnect from work.
"It's easier for the separation of work and free time to become blurred at home if you don't make a clear distinction in your space," says Jonathan. "Once you walk out of that space, you know your home time starts and you're less likely to bounce back and forth between work and home, especially late at night."
It's also important there is enough light that you're not straining your eyes looking at a computer and a proper place to set up your computer so you don't have to crane your neck.
Tip 3: Make boundaries for yourself
When you're working from home, it’s easy to lose your work/life balance, but it's important not to blend work time and home or family time.
When you're done working for the day, put your work away. Log off and stay logged off until it's time to return to work the next day.
"If your family is home too, communicate your boundaries with them so they know when it's work time and when it's not," Jonathan says.
Tip 4: Keep in contact
One of the biggest concerns people have when working remotely is social isolation. Try using chat tools to stay in touch with your co-workers and make time to call friends and family each day. You can also try calling into meetings using your webcam so you can see people and they can see you.
"In maintaining balance, you need to carve out the pieces of your pie," says Jonathan. "We are used to seeing people in our normal workday so at home we need to reinvent that, whether it's social friendships or work colleagues. We have many different types of social interaction and it's important to maintain those."
Tip 5: Get moving
Physical exercise should be part of any lifestyle, but it's especially important when you're working from home. Try to incorporate 20 minutes of moderate activity each day.
There are many free resources available online that offer everything from yoga classes to full body workouts you can do from your living room.