For the past several weeks, remote work has been top on the list of coveted employee benefits. In fact, according to a survey 99% of respondents want to work remotely at least sometime for the rest of their careers.

Now many employees are doing work from home. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 28.8% of wage and salary workers have been asked to work remotely and they’re faced with an imperfect reality.

Many are fearful about COVID-19, as well as its effect on economic and labor market. Yet, they are trying to figure out the best ways and tools to allow them to work from home, especially if this is their first time. It becomes more difficult to work from home for those are confined to houses or apartments with roommates, family members, and children who have their own work or school demands. In this time of crisis, here are some steps which can protect your mental health:

Acknowledge the Impact

According to psychologist Kevin Gillliland, PsyD, working from home can be more challenging than it seems. He says, “Prepare to be surprised at how difficult the transition is”. Home is the place of comfort and filled with distractions which one doesn’t meet at work.

As a result, it is important to be as patient as possible, says Maurya Glaude, PhD who is also an assistant professor at Tulane University’s School of Social Work in New Orleans. She adds “This is not the time to expect perfection.” One needs to give some time to adjust him/her to the new normal, figure out the schedule and how to work efficiently from home, as well as what practices and tips work.

Create Routine

Maurya Glaude recommends that remote workers should create a routine. While there may be many factors beyond personal control, including a loss of predictability, one can exert some control and acquaintance by sticking to a schedule. “If you have young or elderly people in your life, that predictability can be very comforting” Maurya says. So, get up at a particular time, get ready, and do according to the plan. Meanwhile, don’t be too rigid. Also, one has to include breaks and not to overschedule. Maurya asserts “Think of it as a “summer schedule,” which may be somewhat more relaxed than a typical routine, she says. “We have to be very flexible during this time with our young people, our elderly people, for taking care of family members, and then with ourselves,”

Recognize Needs

Laura Hamill, PhD, chief people officer at Limeade and an employee experience company is pointing the fact for some people working from home can be an unexpected drawback as they are craves the social interaction of the office. She asserts “If you’re an extrovert and you really are driven by being around other people, and then all of a sudden, maybe you’re working from your home space and you don’t have that in-person connection that can be really hard. And then of course, if you are a person who needs privacy and you suddenly have your three kids and a spouse at home, it’s not normally you are in.”

If one is extrovert the best is to using videoconferences, group chats, and regular phone calls and get the connection needed. And if someone loves to have time alone to think it is best to discuss the need with the family and work on getting that time into the schedule. Also, one should pay attention to schedule the best tasks according to the energy level.

Focus on Core

We have to understand that this is not a normal time. Thinking that you’re just doing job/business as usual, but from home, isn’t precise, and changes need to be made. The best way to handle it, collaborate with the team to identify core areas of focus and save energy for the tasks, meetings, and priorities.

In addition, it’s a good idea to add practices that may strengthen mental health. Start with a gratitude practice; think about things for which you are grateful. Do yoga, exercises and watch meditation videos online throughout the day and try to be relaxed.

Remote working has its advantages, but substantial disruption and changes can take charge on your mental health. Be aware of changes in your emotional mood or behaviour and ask others as well to do the same.

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