Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us – myself included – have suddenly found ourselves thrown into working from home full-time. Working from home can be a wonderful thing. I do a lot of writing, and it’s much easier to concentrate when I’m at home. Working from home doesn’t come without its challenges though. At KGA, we believe in focusing on wellness, both in the workplace and at home. Well, for the moment, workplace and home are one in the same. So, let’s talk about ways to increase and maintain wellness while working from home.
Follow a Schedule and Set Boundaries
All of a sudden, your home life and your work life no longer have clear boundaries. One of the biggest downsides to working from home is the tendency to blur the lines and forget to unplug. On the flip side, it can also be easy to get caught up in distractions and not get anything done. Lay-out a clear schedule for yourself, and stick to it. Working from home gives you the freedom to be flexible with this schedule and work when you’re most productive. Just be sure to set clear start and stop times for yourself, and stick to them. Burn out is real, and it’s especially important to take care of yourself right now.
Take Intentional Breaks
Our bodies aren’t designed to sit in front of a computer for hours on end. Taking intentional breaks is a great mood and productivity booster. Go outside for a few minutes, walk around the block (while practicing safe social distancing of course), or go on a walk or run at lunch time. My dog Spiderman is loving our half-hour lunch time walks! Meditate, work on a puzzle, chat with the family or enjoy a healthy snack away from your workspace. Taking a few intentional breaks throughout the day will go a long way towards helping both your physical and mental wellness while working from home.
Your Desk Set-up Matters
If you don’t normally work from home, chances are you might not have a dedicated office space set-up. Spending the day hunched over a laptop or desktop monitor is a quick way to end up in a lot of pain. If your monitor is too low, prop it up on top of a shoe box or a couple of books. If you work on a laptop, getting a separate keyboard and mouse will allow you to prop your laptop up to eye level while still being able to work comfortably. Investing in an adjustable sit-stand desk converter is a great option that gives you the flexibility to sit or stand while working. Amazon has plenty of great, affordable options. I personally have this one at home. One perk I’ve found is that even when I’m sitting, it puts my monitor at a more comfortable height. To read more about proper workspace ergonomics, check out this article.
Distractions can be a major pitfall of working from home. Cabin fever, the kid(s) want or need something (home schooling is, and has been, trending), or that pile of dirty dishes that won’t let you concentrate. How you design your work environment can be part of the solution. Yes, creating a workspace that’s private (or even semi-private) can be challenging, especially on the fly. Here are some ideas to consider:
- host a phone call while taking a walk or sitting on the back porch
- don’t situate your space in a thoroughfare or worse, where you can see laundry or dishes
- a room with a door can help signal when you’re busy and provide noise control. And, if it has a window or is near the outdoors, well then jackpot!
These are short-term solutions for adapting existing spaces. Check back for design ideas on how our current challenge will potentially influence design over the long-term. In the coming weeks we’ll be sharing our ideas on what the home of the future looks like.
Even if it’s not your favorite thing, it’s time to embrace technology. Today alone I had calls on Skype, GoTo Meeting and Zoom. Technology is what’s going to get us through this period of social distancing and allow us to carry on conducting business in what’s looking to be our new normal (here’s a round-up on how KGA is using technology to keep our business running at full capacity). It also allows us to stay connected with friends, family and co-workers. We’re social creatures, and maintaining personal connections is important to our wellness. So, even if you run into glitches signing up or getting new programs to work, take a deep breath and don’t give up. When in doubt, restart. If that doesn’t work, ask for help from a co-worker or your company’s IT. Because like it or not, the time has come to embrace technology.
Use the Time You Would Have Spent Commuting for Self-Care
In order to take care of others, we must first take care of ourselves. If there’s one gift that working from home offers, it’s the gift of time. Take the time you would have spent commuting, and do something positive for yourself. If your normal morning commute was 30 minutes, go on a 30-minute walk or run before work. Or, take the time to make and enjoy a healthy breakfast. You could also add your morning and evening commute times together. The gym might be closed, but suddenly you have the time to get in a solid work-out at home, either before or after work. I’ve been working out at home regularly for over four years now. My go to work-out is Daily Burn 365, but there are many options out there.
Be Patient, Tomorrow’s a New Day
While you’re adjusting to your new routine, don’t forget to patient and kind to yourself and others. We’re all getting used to the current reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, school closures, social distancing and working from home. Some cities and states – Colorado included – are currently under orders to shelter in place. So, do your best to be healthy and productive, and give yourself a break if and when things don’t go as planned. Tomorrow’s a new day, and a new opportunity to adjust your routine, try your best, and figure out what you need to do to keep yourself well while working from home.
About the Author
Andrea is the Marketing Director for KGA. She loves web design and curates all of KGA’s blog content. Originally from Seattle, she enjoys getting outside and soaking up the Colorado sunshine as much as possible. In her free time you can find her hiking or stand up paddling with her boyfriend and their adopted pup, Spiderman (pictured here on their now daily lunch time walks). Andrea is passionate about wellness and the importance of making healthy choices in our daily lives.