Rewind to January 2020. You were in the office, working with great coworkers and an awesome boss, learning more and more each day. Everything made sense and everything felt right. Then, all of a sudden, a pandemic spread across the globe and ruined all of your plans. Sounds like a bad movie, doesn’t it? Well, unfortunately, as we all know, it wasn’t. Now, instead of being around your awesome coworkers every day, you’re stuck working from home in the cramped corner where you managed to set up a desk. The challenges of working from home go beyond your physical location. The new wave of WFH (work from home) has caused a lot of people mental stress, sadness, and even feelings of grief.
There has been a huge shift in the way we work. A lot of companies and organizations are also realizing that a large number of jobs can be done remotely. And there are both pros and cons to working from home: On one hand, you don’t have to wake up as early as you used to; you don’t always have to look your best; and you’re spending a lot less money on gas. On the other hand, you miss your coworkers, might feel less productive, and are getting less physical activity.
The sadness and fatigue you’re feeling might be stemming from a hard place but luckily, there are things that you can do to cope with this shift.
What Does Grief Look Like?
When you think of grief, what comes to mind? Maybe you think of a lost loved one and how you felt during that time. While most people only associate the grieving process with the death of someone close to you, grief can also be associated with other losses (moving to a new city, losing a job, etc.). When it comes to working from home, there are many reasons why you could feel this intense range of emotions. The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Here are some thoughts you might have during this time:
- “How long will I have to work from home?”
- “There’s no way this is going to be that serious.”
- “Will I be able to handle my duties from home?”
- “Is it even safe to go into the office?”
- “Some people are going back, why aren’t we? What’s the point of staying at home?”
- “I miss working alongside my coworkers and the lack of social interaction is really messing with my head.”
- “If there’s nothing I can do about my situation, I might as well accept it.”
These thoughts can offer insight into the different stages of grief. Now, while it’s almost impossible to predict how long this quarantine is going to last, you can at least make an effort to make the most out of your situation. Don’t let your feeling of anger and sadness rule your day to day living.
The Challenges of Working from Home and Advice on How to Overcome Them
Working from home was all fun and games until we realized that this is going to last a lot longer than we anticipated. With some companies already planning to keep employees home through the remainder of the year, it’s important to really put a heavy focus on ensuring the wellness of your emotional and mental health. Let’s dive into some of the challenges you might be facing and how we can shift our focus to something more positive.
When you go into the office, you generally have a solid routine. You wake up at the same time, know how much time you need to get ready and eat, how long it takes you to drive to work and drive home. Now with being home, you might not even realize what time of the day it is, especially when you don’t have any calls or meetings scheduled. This is why it’s important to create and maintain home and work boundaries. Maybe:
- Start waking up a little earlier and getting back into some sort of routine
- Only allow yourself to work overtime 30 minutes a day
- Create a physical space that is dedicated to your work so you can physically walk away at the end of the day
- Don’t eat lunch at your desk. Give yourself that much-needed break
When you have a great team that you work with, you might be feeling especially sad and down over not seeing them every day. You’re missing out on the jokes, smiles, and teamwork by working from home. This, in addition to not walking around as much, can cause you to feel bored. Try:
- Scheduling times to eat lunch with your coworkers over video chat
- Taking a ten-minute break once every hour to walk around your house or outside
- Listening to music that helps you focus. Playing music also fills your space with sound and can help you feel less isolated
- Working from a coffee shop, library, or bookstore once a week to change up your scenery. Socially distanced, of course
Nothing makes you feel better at work than being productive. Feeling accomplished is amazing and can give you the drive to keep going. Here are some ways to improve your productivity at home:
- Create and maintain a checklist that you physically have to mark off
- Reward yourself for finishing a time-consuming project. Maybe it’s your favorite bag of chips, an extra five minutes to your break, watching a YouTube video, or playing with your beloved pet
- Use a project management system like Asana or Monday
- Set reminders and realistic timeframes
- Hold yourself accountable by having check-ins with your boss or co-workers
- Be honest about how long it’s taking you to complete projects on time
Coping and Moving On
It’s important to remember that this won’t last forever. When you’re struggling mentally, make sure you check in with yourself. If managing your sadness is becoming too difficult, consider talking to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist. Isolation isn’t fun, but by improving your mindset, it can be a lot more manageable.