Before the COVID-19 Pandemic, most people haven’t had the chance to experience ups and downs of working from home, changing a vibrant office atmosphere for the quietude on one end, or with the whole family chaos, on another. For several months now, a different way of life became our reality and we had no choice but to adapt. Whether you have replaced your corporate office for your home desk, continued to work remotely, fighting to keep your business running or had to shut it down, been laid off or furloughed- at this moment most of us are putting the advantages and the challenges of working from home on trial, while coping with the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic. The results of a nationally-representative sample of the US population on how they are adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, COVID-19 and Remote Work: An Early Look at US Data, based on a survey run from April 1-5 2020, takes you through preliminary analyses of an evolving crisis and some early shifts in the economy and its effects.
Even before COVID-19, WFH was a topic of interest and experimental research. In 2015, a study based in the largest Chinese travel agency – Ctrip, with headquarters in Shanghai, found that when call-center employees were shifted to working from home, their productivity increased by an average of 13%, due to a reduction in break time and sick days combined with a more comfortable work environment. The source, Harward Business Review, also states that employees value the option to work remotely. A 2017 study even found that the average worker was willing to accept 8% less pay for the option to work from home.
However, following their impression with the success of the WFH policy, the Ctrip’s Management decided to offer a flexible work arrangement to the entire company including both the original home-workers and the control group. The results were surprising, as half of the home-workers returned to work from the office, and so did the three-quarters of the control group. The main reason for choosing the office work against WFH in this study was loneliness.
These studies show that WFH option is welcome but not a one-size-fits-all model. While some may thrive in WFH environment, some may have a hard time coping with loneliness and distractions. In the case of WFH during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the work is afflicted by additional factors and requires more efforts and a higher level of organization than in non-pandemic situation. Work from home during a pandemic competes with home-schooling, other family members’ work, kids’ activities, minding our health and well-being, etc. These circumstances can get overwhelming at times and cause anxiety and confusion. To keep your mental and physical space healthy in these challenging times, consider implementing these simple tips.
Light is an invaluable element of any space and its impact can make or break the mood. Start with letting the daylight in, open the curtains, lift the roller blinds, and clean all the windows. Replace all non-working or dated bulbs, especially those in your working area. These simple steps can make an immense difference in the ambience, making space vibrant and more spacious, and your workspace more engaging. Light affects our mood, our productivity, and our ability to maintain focus. If possible, place your dedicated working area next to the window to make the most of daylight and make sure you have a good task light on your desk.
Fresh Air and Greenery
Living and working among many electric devices every day with no commute or outdoor time makes us even more exposed to the effects of Electromagnetic Fields. Although we rely on our devices to get the work done, EMF radiation interferes with our focus, productivity, and the wellbeing. To minimize the radiation effects and for other benefits, bring the greenery in. Some plants such as Cacti, Aloe Vera, Peace Lily, Betel Leaf, and Spider Plant are efficient workers when it comes to reducing computer radiation and indoor pollution. Plants detoxify the air, boost our immune systems, and make our homes more comfortable. As often as possible, open all the windows and let the fresh air in and take regular breaks from work.
The Benefits of Tidying
In the time of uncertainty, keeping your personal space tidy and maintaining order will give you a sense of control. You will find that by using short breaks for quick vacuuming or wiping kitchen countertops is a great antidote to sitting, and 5 or 10 minutes of moving and cleaning will help you think clearer and move past some things were you were stuck on. Moreover, housework activities help in reducing anxiety.
Clear Your Headspace
A good way of clearing the headspace is to step away from the overwhelming chaos and noise of the outside world. Turn off the news and disconnect from social media even for an hour a day. Meditate, do yoga, listen to music, journal, exercise- whatever makes you feel better. Check out more tips on well-being and productivity here.
Keep in Touch
Humans are social beings; however, social distancing impacts come in many colors. For some, it can be easy to get lost in the bubble of solitude and lose touch, while others are having hard time being separated from their loved ones. Yet, keeping in touch is beneficial for everyone. Regular communication with family and friends, exchanging stories and experiences, laughing and being there for each other, is so important for our mental health and it keeps us grounded and connected.
Do More of What Makes you Happy
Quarantine and shelter-in-place orders create more space in your day for things you always wanted to but did not have time, such as learning a new skill or having a hobby. Hobbies boost our creativity and reduce stress, which positively affects all areas of our life. Moreover, acquiring new skills and doing something you are passionate about can expand your social circle through mutual interests.