Essentially, working remotely means avoiding rush hour traffic, noisy co-workers, dress codes, your boss breathing down your neck, or feeling like you’re chained to your desk, all of which are perks important. So why do you feel stressed?
Getting used to remote work can bring up some unpleasant realities as the novelty wears off. This article will explore some symptoms, causes, and solutions to remote work stress.
Symptoms of stress and burnout at remote work
While these can vary from person to person, there are a few key stress symptoms to watch out for:
- Struggle with focus and motivation.
- Experiencing high levels of anxiety or irritability.
- Having trouble sleeping or constantly feeling exhausted.
- Degraded work performance and reduced productivity.
- A range of physical symptoms, such as energy depletion, indigestion, headaches and heart palpitations.
The reality is that you may have experienced some of these symptoms while working in the office. However, it is more important than ever to be aware of them, as your colleagues might not detect these symptoms early on since they are not around you. That’s why it’s crucial to be proactive about your health and wellbeing when working remotely.
You can start by knowing some common remote work stress triggers and their solutions.
6 causes of work-from-home stress and their solutions
1. Lack of social interaction
We all crave social interaction, especially when we’re stuck at home all day. You might miss the water cooler talk or the occasional office banter.
Not having these interactions can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. It can be worse if you’re an extrovert who prefers to work in a busy, stimulating environment. There are several things you can do to overcome the loneliness of remote work, including:
- Schedule regular check-ins with your team.
- Join an online forum or virtual group related to your work or hobbies.
- Use video chat tools like Zoom, Skype or Google Hangouts to have face-to-face conversations with your colleagues.
- Organize virtual coffee breaks with your remote colleagues.
- Create virtual water cooler discussion groups to discuss non-work related topics.
- Take advantage of your flexibility to work in places where you can socialize, such as cafes or coworking spaces.
Taking the necessary steps to combat loneliness will help you lessen its damaging effects on your mental health and productivity.
2. Email overload
There are many ways to communicate in a traditional office environment, including walking to someone’s desk, picking up the phone, hosting meetings and giving presentations.
However, when you transition to remote working, you can start using email exclusively to communicate with your colleagues. This can lead to an influx of messages, which can be overwhelming and stressful. There are several ways to reduce email overload:
- Set aside specific times during the day to check and respond to emails.
- Set up messaging filters and rules to help organize your messages.
- Use other internal communication tools to supplement emails, such as Google Meet, Twist, and Trello.
- Unsubscribe from mailing lists or newsletters that do not interest you.
- Use messaging tools like Spark or Spike to help you manage your inbox, prioritize vital messages, customize notifications, receive follow-up reminders, and more.
In addition to that, you may also want to deal with information overload in general. This means being selective with the information you consume, being mindful of your time on social media, and limiting your screen time.
3. Longer working hours
One of the reasons remote work is an unpopular option is that employers believe their employees would slack off without supervision. A consequence of this belief is that your supervisor may be inclined to expect more work from you or to consult with you more often.
This can lead to longer working hours during the week and, in some cases, weekend work, giving rise to the “always on” work culture. But working longer does not necessarily translate into better work. However, it can harm your well-being and lead to burnout. There are a few things you can do to manage long working hours:
- Set realistic expectations with your supervisor.
- Take breaks, even short ones, to recharge and refuel.
- Establish boundaries between work and personal life and stick to them.
- Set your availability in your calendar and communication app, so people know when you’re available.
- Create a personalized work-from-home schedule based on your availability and needs.
- Improve your well-being by getting enough quality sleep, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly.
4. Long and unnecessary meetings
Chances are you’ve been invited to an unlimited number of meetings since you started working remotely, from status update meetings and brainstorming sessions to stand-up meetings.
While some meetings are necessary, you can avoid many to save time and avoid Zoom fatigue. There are a few ways to do this:
- You can start by making sure your must-attend meetings are as productive as possible by sending out meeting agendas in advance, setting deadlines, and inviting only the right people.
- Use project management and asynchronous communication tools to pitch new ideas, share updates, collaborate on projects, and explain tasks.
- Replace non-emergency video conferences with concise written updates that you can add to your internal wiki.
5. Less physical activity
An often overlooked downside of working remotely is that you may not get as much physical activity as you would in an office. no more walking to the bus stop, down the street for lunch, up and down the stairs to the copy room or your colleague’s office.
If, like many, your daily commute involves walking from your bed to your desk chair, which may be in the same room, you could be putting yourself at several health risks.
Working from home usually involves being trapped in one place for long periods of time, which leads to less physical activity and an increased risk of illnesses such as obesity, heart disease and depression. To offset the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle, you can:
- Try to get up and move regularly.
- Take a break from walking, even if it’s just around the block.
- Invest in a standing desk or treadmill.
- Download a fitness app like FitOn and set goals to increase your activity level.
Making sure to increase your level of physical activity will improve your well-being and productivity.
6. Technical failures
You might be responsible for setting up and troubleshooting your technology while working from home, and you may no longer be able to rely on that handy tech support colleague down the hall to help you with your IT issues.
This can lead to issues such as poor internet connection, computer crashes, software glitches, and lost files, which can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not tech-savvy. To reduce the risk of technical failures, you can:
- Make sure you have a backup when your internet connection goes down, like a mobile hotspot.
- Make sure your devices have all necessary software updates.
- Secure your connection with a VPN to avoid data breaches.
- Create a system restore point on your computer if you need to repair your system.
- Be sure to regularly back up your files to an external hard drive or the cloud.
Taking proactive steps to prevent technical failures will help you stay productive and avoid stressful situations.
Overcome common remote work stressors for better productivity
Working from home can be a great experience, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. By getting ahead of the most common work-from-home stressors, you can improve your well-being. Try to implement the tips we mentioned above to enjoy a stress-free and productive remote work experience.
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