A sneaky side effect of working from home
Overworking is a common side effect of working remotely because the line between on and off hours can get very hazy when your workstation is only a few feet from you. It’s far too easy to send out a few more emails after dinner, or finish up a document before bed. Typically it starts with good intentions and an eagerness to let your employer know that you’re on top of your job while you’re not onsite. The thought is that you can get a head start on tomorrow’s workload, but the fact is that work is infinite, so all you’re doing is beginning a bad habit.
Data says that burnout is the concern, not slacking off
Often employers are concerned that remote workers may be more lax about accountability than their in-office counterparts. But in reality, they should be worried about the reverse. In fact, a recent study by Owl Labs (who surveyed 1,200 U.S. workers between the ages of 22 and 65) showed that remote workers reported working over 40 hours per week 43% more than those who work in offices. This can lead to feeling overloaded and possibly stressed. The resulting burnout can lead to less effective production and even extra time off (which ironically can lead to longer work days when you get back to it). It can be a dangerous cycle if it’s not kept in check.
Now for the tips
Many experienced remote workers have methods to safeguard against overworking. We’re sharing the best of the bunch here. Do remember that with any new process or habit, repetition is key. So don’t let these fly out of your head as soon as you stop reading this email.
TIP 1 – Set a non-work appointment at the end of the day
Many of us live by our calendars, so it’s a natural place to set a stop sign that signals the end of your work day. But be clever about it and set a task that you’ll hold yourself to. Instead of setting an arbitrary “Stop work” appointment, schedule gym time or a walk around the block. Maybe it’s time to start prepping dinner. Holding yourself to a physical activity that gets you away from your computer is the key. And maintaining the ritual helps you associate the activity with the transition from work life to personal life.
TIP 2 – Set timers to take breaks
Some people use their calendars for this so time is blocked off, some use Alexa reminders to shout at them. In Windows, Task Scheduler is a handy tool to train your computer to help you. Whatever method you use, set regular breaks throughout your workdays. You’d be surprised how much more focused your days can be if you set breaks and work in stints. Using something like the Pomodoro technique and it’s proven success can work wonders.
TIP 3 – Announce it the world
Ok, not the world, but you should shoot your team a quick message that you’re signing off for the day. Using something like Teams chat creates less interruption for your colleagues, but lets them know that you’re going offline so needs have to wait until tomorrow. Be careful not to create another bad habit here. It can be easy to jump the gun and say “bye” before you’re really ready to close the laptop. Don’t train your coworkers to ignore your sign off messages by sticking around.
TIP 4 – Create as much of a unique workspace as possible
Not everyone has the kind of home layout that allows for a closed door. Obviously the easiest method is to designate a room for work that you only enter when you’re working. But if you’re like many people, your workstation is in a common room or one that’s shared with another function like a bedroom. If possible, section off your work area and find way to close it at the end of the day so you’re not tempted to scan an email. This can be something as simple as just closing your laptop or powering down.
TIP 5 – Turn off notifications during non-work hours
A simple one, but effective. While working remote, it can be easy to feel like you’re missing something and jump anytime the phone or computer dings in case it’s important. This is usually an illusion, though. Remember that work hours are work hours, no matter if you’re in an office or at home. If you could let it wait until the next day while you working onsite, then let it be the same when you work remotely.
We’re always ready to help you use your technology better so it supports your work life, not complicates it. If you have any questions about how we support your professional technology to ensure you have access to everything you need, just reach out to use at Help@HDCav.com or 360-930-6991. Happy powering down!