November 5, 2020 9 min read
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This article was written by Alex Sixt, a member of the Entrepreneur NEXT powered by Assemble content team. Entrepreneur NEXT is our Expert solutions division leading the future of work and skills-based economy. If you’re struggling to find, vet, and hire the right Experts for your business, Entrepreneur NEXT is a platform to help you hire the experts you need, exactly when you need them. From business to marketing, sales, design, finance, and technology, we have the top 3 percent of Experts ready to work for you.
We’re nearly at the end of 2020, thank goodness, and by now most of the workforce has been working from home (WFH) for more than eight months. We’ve “zoomed” into hundreds of meetings, slept in almost every morning, and worn pajamas all day at least a handful of times. And while this all probably would’ve sounded like paradise to our 2019 selves, the honeymoon phase has worn off for most of the workforce.
Whether you miss your office or are happy to be home more often, working from home can get on anyone’s nerves after a while. Sitting in the same room at home without any coworkers is difficult to adjust to long term, especially if you tend to thrive more in a structured, social environment. Although no one can truly predict when offices will be fully open once again, there are things you can do to hit the refresh button on your WFH situation.
The good news is mixing up your routine at home is incredibly easy and you don’t even have to change out of your sweatpants to do it (we know you’re not really wearing an entire pantsuit on that Zoom call). The advantage of working from home is that you can easily change your routine without needing the permission of your supervisor. Everyone has a unique work style and professional needs that will determine exactly what changes they can make; it’ll just take some personal reflection to discover what may help you the most.
Whether you’re in need of some human interaction or just searching for a change of scenery, here is a list of ways you can keep things fresh while working from home.
Switch rooms in the house.
Let’s be real: no matter how nice your home office may be, any space is bound to get old after a while, especially after working from home for over eight months. By switching the room you typically work in, you’ll get a boost of creativity and motivation similar to moving into a new office- and the best part is, you control where you go! Have you always wanted a corner office? Move into the extra bedroom that you’ve been eyeing, or if you’re living with other telecommuters, suggest an office-space switch. That way, everyone will benefit from the change in scenery and you can even add some fun to it by pre-decorating these spaces for one another.
If changing your space isn’t an option, don’t worry; you can still mix things up without a full-scale office move. If you’re facing a wall (mentally or physically), try moving your desk near a window to have a view of the outdoors and get some fresh air. You can also add your favorite picture or tapestry if there’s no window available to still reap the benefits of a new view. Wherever you move to, be sure that it’s a quiet pace with limited distractions so that you can still get work done while enjoying the new location.
Related: So You Think You Can WFH?
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Avoid eating where you work.
Who doesn’t love a good snack, especially when the pantry is only a few feet away? Although it’s tempting to enjoy your snack and even your lunch break at your workspace, it’s one of the worst things you can do when trying to combat WFH fatigue. There’s a reason most offices suggest their employees refrain from eating at their work station: you need separation from work and other activities.
We’re already mixing our lives and work by telecommuting for an extended period of time. By bringing in other activities — such as eating — into your workspace, you’re adding more to the mix that can further blur the lines between your job and personal time. When you start to make your work space into more of a “living space,” productivity can go down as a result of burnout. To maintain a good work-life blend, take your lunch/snack/Netflix break in another area of your home. The chance to step away from work and clear your head will help you do a mini-reset. Your creativity (and mental health) will thank you.
Redecorate your space.
Every workspace, no matter how spacious or luxurious, needs some decorating to truly make it your own. Yes, it may feel odd to redecorate a spot in your own home simply for work purposes, but a little personalized decor can make a huge difference in your productivity. Think back to your cubicle days- no one loves starting at a blank, carpeted wall (no matter how much you tell yourself it’s “cozy”). The beautiful thing about WFH is the chance to create your optimal workspace outside of the judgement of your coworkers or fear that you’ll have to haul a ton of items with you when you move spaces.
Decorating your own space is also an opportunity to have total freedom from typical office rules. Do you love candles? Great- light two, five, or ten of them; there’s no corporate fire hazard regulations saying you can’t (but please still make sure they don’t burn down your house). Hang up pictures of your friends and family, buy a ton of succulents, or finally purchase that yoga ball you’ve wanted as a chair — the options are truly limitless. The goal is to make a place where you truly feel like you can be productive and gives you the sense of an office-away-from-office.
Visit a coffee shop or local library.
A sense of hustle and bustle or even other humans around you can pump up your productivity more than you’d think! If your local coffee shop or library is open for business and seating, try visiting one to set up camp there for a few hours or even a day. Coffee shops are a well-known hub for remote workers, and your local library may even offer the chance to rent a room for a few hours so you can take a mini field-trip out of the four walls you’re used to seeing.
For some people, remote work is likely to become a permanent setup as companies decide to ditch the typical office life. If you’re still in search of community, try starting a remote work group that meets every so often at the local cafe to get some work done together. They’ll not only share in your WFH woes, but they’ll also provide great external support that everyone needs at some point in their job. Try rotating the cafes you visit together for a refreshing change of pace and try new coffees every so often.
With the health crisis still a factor, if you’re comfortable trying this option, just make sure to follow the recommended health and social distancing guidelines to stay healthy and safe.
Check out a coworking space, if they’re open.
Maybe you really, really miss your coworkers and just wish there was a way to get that feeling of an office setting back — that’s totally normal! Coworkers provide essential support most of us need to get through the day and bounce creative ideas off every once in a while. Whether your company has decided to leave their office or you’ve taken on a career working for yourself, there’s still a place for you: co-working spaces. These offices act similar to apartments in that you rent office space for a set amount of time and enjoy the benefits of an office while working with people from a variety of companies.
Same as above, if you’re comfortable trying this option given the health crisis, be sure to follow the recommended health and social distancing guidelines.
The reality is, remote work has been here for a while and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. However, with a few tweaks to your typical work routine, you can hit the refresh button on the past few months and find ways to enjoy the perks that remote work can have.
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