Remote work - Holy Grail of chosen business sectors or worst nightmare with Bill Skarsgård playing the main character? Actually, it depends on you and how you prepare for the new, remote reality. What to pay attention to? How to make this shift from a 9-5 office lifestyle to remote work less stressed? And why could self-reflection be the key to success? Below you will find some tricks that help you maintain a healthy balance between your work and life (...or blend them the way you like :) ).
Take your time
There is always a starting point. Whenever you switched to a 100% remote model of work to save time on commuting or decided to move to Bali for a few months. Starting point means change, and when we are talking about change - there is stress. Of course, we have our optimum level of motivational stress when we feel energized and ready to take up a challenge with the feeling we will move mountains. However, after a while, you may expect ups and downs in your general comfort, being more sensitive while coping with even relatively standard responsibilities (coming from both: work and life) as far as managing general feelings or anxiety. And it's completely normal. :) Changing life routine takes time, and it's a process, not a tickbox waiting to be marked.
TIP: Observe yourself, self-reflect, and write down what you like and what you want to change. Writing down helps to understand better your behavior and manage energy loss.
Set a schedule
To change a routine, you have to have a plan and test different options, trying to figure out what works the best for you.
Whether you enjoy short breaks for a walk to observe the ocean or trees behind the block, what time is the best for doing your workout (maybe in the middle of the day?), whether you are an early bird or night owl… Without a 5-9 hours office frame, there is a bunch of stuff waiting to be discovered! And it can be so much fun testing these new options!
However, do not force yourself to transform your life completely. It might be an additional energy shock for the organism, and each day, we have a specific amount of energy to be used. There are people for whom changes would not be such an issue, but we are all different. Be kind to yourself and take your time to understand your needs.
Check your productivity and creativity level and If you feel more and more tired - consider getting back to the old routine.
TIP: Book time in your calendar for meals and other short "coffee" breaks. Remember that at the office, you probably would have had a bunch of random chit-chats with colleagues :) Try also to add one point from your old routine to the new remote reality (f.e. lunch break at the same time). It will help you go through all changes more smoother.
I already mentioned random chats with your teammates, and believe me - maintaining relationships with colleagues while working remotely, can be truly beneficial (and it doesn't matter if you are working as a freelancer or you are actually part of the group).
Let's start by acknowledging the fact that we as humans are social animals. This phrase is still valid and is confirmed by many psychologists. We simply feel better being surrounded by others - being part of the group helps us keep self-esteem at a healthy level.
Knowing your habits and how you like to work, you can achieve much more together and significantly boost the overall team productivity. And if anything surprises you in your private life that influences your work, your anxiety will not skyrocket because you will be surrounded by people you feel comfortable with and can count on.
TIP: If you are not a huge fan of small talks, you can always focus more on gathering feedback about your work. Prepare specific questions to ask and try not to be too general.If you just joined the company and struggle with remembering who is who (in the remote environment, it's sometimes more difficult as we don't see each other every day at the office), you can try to make short notes that help you link the dots about your colleagues and their responsibilities.
Small details matter
Before you start working remotely, think about your environment and logistics. It will help in a smoother transition from the standard type of work and do not add additional stressors to your life - stressors that can be easy to eliminate. Examples: internet connection for meetings, ad hoc calls, ergonomic space… Working from a cafe or a beach bar sounds tempting, but for a longer period, it's good to take care of some easy-to-implement hacks that will make your working space more back-friendly. And last but not least - food! It sounds pretty basic but preparing lunch in advance will save you from wasting time looking for something to eat (especially if you are on workation and you don't know the neighborhood yet).
TIP: You can try to get some online recipes with shopping lists included (there are many free or not-so costly options on the internet). Sometimes shopping lists can even be proposed based on specific stores. If you are moving to a different city - be there before the actual working day to have a few days to see the neighborhood and prepare your space.
Work-life balance or work-life-blending?
I remember times when everyone was focusing on the 9-5 frame and put lots of effort into actually not picking up a phone or reading an email after that hour. The question is if this is the healthiest option. As always - it depends on your preferences. People who take a one or two-hour break during the day to take care of their personal matters, finishing work in the evening, can have the same level of well-being compared to those working standard hours with 30 mins breaks. And here comes work-life blending. This term means planning your day to find time for everything important to you and corresponds with your different life roles.
Is this approach better than the one with firm boundaries between professional and personal life? Depends on you and your current life situation :) Most importantly, while working remotely, you can choose what works the best for you!
TIP: It's always good to discuss your daily schedule and the hours you want to take a longer break with the manager and team members. It will help all of you organize your work most efficiently. If you use slack, you can add a status that will tell the rest of your colleagues when they can catch you. While not working, snooze work-related notifications (even to the point that no red dot is visible; this one was invented to make you curious and be connected all the time). Work-life blending requires clear communication between team members and working on well-established habits.
Remote work, in the beginning, can look like an amusement park: all those exciting rides and new adventures. And indeed, it gives you enormous possibilities and freedom to tailor your work perfectly to your needs. However, it's good to remember that with all benefits, it also brings some hidden challenges. But with a plan, a dose of preparation, and self-reflection, you can make the best of it!