Top tips to optimise working from home


Posted on: Jan 13, 2015 by Andrew Kinder

As more employees continue to choose to work from home, their personal and professional lives risk becoming increasingly blurred. Constrained to their house, remote employees may feel isolated or pressured to work as hard as possible to justify the “privilege” of working at home. As a result, the number of homeworkers experiencing burnout or stress can increase as a result.

Here are my top coping mechanisms to avoid reaching this level of stress:

Separate your home from your working environment, and vice versa

When working at home, it’s important to set clear boundaries between your office environment and home life, and then stick to them. Physical separation is something that can help here. For example, at the start of the day, get dressed in a “work uniform” – something that you feel smart in – and leave the house. Then, walk around the neighborhood and re-enter your house, therefore “arriving” at the office. At the end of the working day, leave the house, walk around the block and change into comfy clothes on your return. That signifies you’re back at home at the end of your working day.  Although this may not work for everyone, it is the principle that is important about signifying home versus work time.

Actively participate in virtual meetings

For remote workers, it may feel ‘out of sight, out of mind’. This is especially true when it comes to conference calls and you have a number of people physically sat together in a meeting room, and one person dialing in remotely. If you’re that person, make sure to speak up and take an active part in the discussion. This will make you feel included and valued just as must as those present in the room. Managers also have a responsibility to ensure they understand the needs of the remote worker and make sure they invite them to comment in any meeting.

Make yourself invisible to friends and family

For relatives or friends that happen to be visiting your home when you’re working, make it clear that you are actually at work. Of course, having a break or a quick cup of tea is a good idea although it is sometimes the case that the home worker gets pulled into socializing with others or doing the household chores for your spouse who’s out of the house all day.

Set an alarm

Linked to the guilt that remote workers can feel, they will often be tempted to work much longer hours than those in the office. Set an alarm when the working day should be done. If you’re not careful, you can easily end up working excessive hours. This is not only detrimental to your health and stress levels, but also to your employer’s bottom line; as consistently over-working will impact your ability to contribute effectively.

Take a break

Without face to face interruptions from colleagues, the remote worker may find that they can work straight through the day without taking a break. But you should spend some time away from the screen, both for the sake of your eyes and your mind. Do regular eye exercises, go for a walk, or take a shower. It might sound silly, but totally removing yourself from the working environment every couple of hours can give you a different perspective, and can actually drive creativity if you’re trying to come up with a new idea.

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About Andrew Kinder

Head of Mental Health Services at Optima Health
As Professional Head of Mental Health Services at Optima Health, Andrew Kinder takes a lead on delivering its Wellbeing@work programme, which works globally to improve the health and wellbeing of its employees. Andrew has made a unique contribution in the area of counselling in the workplace over the last 15 years. He has been a leader in this specialist field work over this period, serving on the Executive Committee of the BACP Workplace (formerly Association for Counselling at Work). He has also promoted workplace counselling through committee work at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Counselling, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Commercial Occupational Health Providers Association. He was recently awarded a Fellowship by BACP.