When home life and work-life merge, there are bound to be a few issues. Many employees are working from home today that have not mastered the nuances that come with home and work mergers. Even more importantly, the employees working from home today may have children and significant others at home due to the circumstances, and this further increases the stress of balancing a workday and home responsibilities. When alone at home, there is a better chance of controlling the uncontrollable such as noise and privacy. However, if you are not home alone, you must prepare for unnecessary noise, the microwave buzzing right when you go off of mute, or appliances running that make it sound like you are in the middle of a construction yard. Running room to room to escape the noise and have some privacy causes fluctuations in the echo of your background and gives away the fact you have taken refuge in the bathtub. Work from home can become a stressful roller coaster if you have not set some ground rules for yourself and others. Here are the four typical work from home stresses and how to manage them:
Losing Track of Time – You will be surprised how your sleeping schedule adjust when you don’t have to be up, showered, dressed, and out the door by a particular time to arrive within a reasonable time range to your desk. It can be reviving to get that extra hour, or it can ruin your entire day because you wake up later, on calls sooner, and just not mentally prepared to leap into cognitive thinking processes.
- Combat this issue by adjusting your time in the morning to remove travel but keep your coffee time, shower, and generally changing out of your pajamas on the schedule. This short prep time will give your mind a chance to catch up with your responsibilities. When you sit in your perfect spot and open your laptop, you will be ready to work because you have given your brain and body time to wake up.
Privacy – If you have kids at home or a significant other, privacy, peace, and quiet can become a highly sought after commodity. Children will ask questions in the middle of your phone call, turn up the TV when they are trying to drain out your conversation, or decide to open the loudest bag of chips in the cabinet while you’re delivering your presentation. Know that these issues are not uncommon to anyone who has worked from home before. Moreover, the circumstances are more acceptable during this time of sheltering in place; however, it too can be minimized.
- Combat privacy concerns by designating a workspace in your home. Test out some areas for noise and accessibility. The kitchen and living room area where the family convenes is probably not your best choice. It is hard to step away from being “in the family” to work, but it is often necessary to concentrate and get things done. Have a conversation with those you love and let them know when you are in your designated space, not to interrupt and minimize noise nearby. These changes will save you from working and extended schedule by allowing you to focus during work hours and not carry items to later at night when the children are asleep.
Moving the mouse – Oh, the dreaded pressure of moving your mouse to stay green! Those of you within companies that use some internal chat system will understand this issue. It is centered around the perception of availability and will tie people to a chair all day. It is the worst of the worst if you ask my opinion and the hardest to combat. The reason it is challenging to tackle is that the need always to appear “available” online, means there is some micromanagement stress from your leader(s). Consequently, this isn’t something you can resolve on your own. It takes management understanding that unavailable (yellow, red, or offline) doesn’t mean you are not working; it merely means you are balancing.
- Therefore, to combat the negative perceptions of working from home, it is imperative to change the narrative of availability. You are home for BALANCE, and you will not achieve that if your computer screen is all you see for 8-10 hours straight. I suggest engaging in conversation on how to reach you during the work from home period. Additionally, turn up the volume on your computer so you can hear messages pop in or meeting reminders ring. Then like your phone, you will take a glance and make the next necessary moves. Don’t feel tied to the chair, take breaks, make lunch, and refill your coffee the same way you would at work. If you don’t walk away from your computer, you will be asking for people to come to you, and that means they will get comfortable with finding you in your designated workspace, and then you have no privacy and no time to live your actual life.
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