HOW TO ‘NOT’ LOSE WORK PRODUCTIVITY WHILE WORKING FROM HOME?
Productivity at Work wins the Game but Happiness at Work wins the Championship.
This is enormously true today – in these critical times of pandemic – while most of the people are working from home! The most significant component of ‘happiness at work’ is being liberated from stress! Environmental stress, financial stress, personal stress, familial stress, economical stress, situational stress, occupational stress… Everyone wants to be free from all sorts of stress.
But, what is stress, really? According to American Psychological Association, stress is basically a normal reaction to our everyday hassles and pressures. To put it in other words, stress is a psychophysiological process, usually experienced as a negative emotional state, resulting from physical or psychosocial demands (Agarwal & Marshall, 2001).
But, stress isn’t bad, always! Stress is rather human’s natural response to flight, fight or freeze! It tells the body to respond to the perceived threat or danger in the situation. If a man sees a burning house of fire in front of him, his body is going to ask him to run and protect himself from dying or burning himself in the blazing flames of fire. That’s how human beings respond! So, organically, stress is a natural and life-saving reaction. It is human’s survival instinct.
The BIG question, here, is - why is everybody today asking to manage stress then? People can just let stress do its job! The answer to this is – stress is only harmful or unhealthy when it begins to hamper our daily life functioning. When stress takes a toll on physical and mental health, it upsets the normal operating systems of body and mind. This is exactly when stress becomes damaging and disruptive. It becomes like a giant scary monster in people’s life that feeds away mental peace, emotional well-being, and physical health and fitness. Now, this stress also detriments peaceful and stable state of mind, people’s happy world of family and friends, satisfying and productive work life, and the overall daily-life functioning. That’s the very reason, each and every one should be aware about the causes and triggers of stress, the phenomenon of stress, and the healthy ways to manage stress when it hits us hard!
It has become all the more necessary to talk about ‘stress management’ as the world is in this situation of COVID-19, wherein all the lives have taken a major turn. Today, everyone is trying to make sense of this situation, trying to figure out ways to deal with the pandemic, trying to take necessary precautions and steps to keep themselves and their loved ones safe, healthy, and happy.
While stakeholders from different fields are thinking about the nation’s safety and economic stability, at the same time, most of them are continuing to work in their respective fields of jobs. The difference today is that they are “WORKING FROM HOME”! Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has become a necessity for them, rather than a choice. Gone are those days where once working as a freelancer with all the comforts of the home was a conscious choice! Today’s times demand them to work from home - irrespective of their occupation. Many of them could be teachers conducting group study classes online, few could be dancers taking dance classes online, or they could be doctors doing follow-ups of their patients’ health status over phone calls, or they could be retailers providing home deliveries online, or IT professionals offering services in their companies. They are doing their best at work at the same time, many individuals are at home helping their partners in household chores, playing with kids in the evenings, or spending quality time with families.
For few, this new and unfamiliar situation is an easy and smooth transition, but for most of them, it is complex, stressful and full of challenges. The primary aim today is to look through some of the main factors that go to make working from home as healthy and sustainable as possible…after all, pandemic isn’t ending too soon, and many of those may be required to work from home for a longer period of time!
TRIED AND TESTED TIPS TO COMBAT STRESS
- BRING POSITIVE ENERGY - There are multiple studies that prove that bringing positive and optimistic attitudes to work can result in greater benefits for the employees. If one can focus on strong and positive abilities, he/she can ignite passion for work, hence accomplishing better results and hitting the targeted goals. Positive attitude for working from home can make a powerful change and will gradually help to decrease high levels of stress. Home is a place of purity and positivity. So, utilize this space for bringing in affirmative and encouraging vibes to work.
- GET BACK TO A STRUCTURED ROUTINE - In office, the employees have a fixed routine of work. However, when one is working from home, all alone, it is difficult to find motivation to work. This creates stress at work and at home too. To manage such stress, he/she can start having a fixed work time – schedule the day accordingly – begin his/her work at a specific time every day. For example, a person can begin to work at 9:00 AM sharp every day and end the work day at 6:00 PM. In this fixed schedule, it is also important to recognize one’s ‘most productive hours’ of work and plan the important tasks during those hours.
- MAKE A TO-DO LIST - Make sure to have a to-do list on work computers or screens. This piece of cue helps to remind the day’s tasks that needs to be done by the end of the working day. This reduces the stress of not being able to complete work on time, or ending the day with a feeling of unproductivity. A workable to-do list keeps one going – and sustains the motivation level throughout the day. Additionally, one must make sure that he/she strikes off the ‘finished or completed tasks’ from the to-do list. The idea behind striking off completed tasks is encouraging the sense of accomplishment – it makes the person feel delighted and keeps him/her driven for work.
- EMPHASIZE ON ENVIRONMENT - Working from home in this pandemic brings more stress if one does not have conducive working environment. Usually, the offices that people have are socially designed for the employees to have passion in their work and motivation in achieving their personal and company’s goals. However, when a person is glued to a screen at home, it is natural for him/her to not have any inspiration to put any efforts. People’s homes are designed for comfort, relaxation, and recreation. They aren’t built for charging-up for work. Thus, working from home creates a sort of dissonance in their heads, leading them to feel extremely anxious. In this situation, they are now looking for anything that makes them feel in control of the situation. It has been noticed that it is easy for a person to pull up a chair and sit anywhere for work at home – he could be at the dinner table and attending a meeting with his client. Right?! But, it is important to remember to have an appropriate physical work set-up in the homes for lessening the amount of stress. For example, one can make sure that the work area isn’t his bed! Beds are for sleeping, not working! The work space should have enough natural light and fresh air – take up the bedroom’s window corner to work, for instance. Moreover, it is essential to keep a check the seating positions too. Don’t slouch and sit, use the bottom bones to sit upright, maintain a straight and good posture, take stretching breaks at regular intervals, set the screens at eye-level angles, keep the arms rested while typing, adjust the chairs at the height and angle of desk, have comfortable chairs that are well-cushioned at the back and bottoms. All such small but extremely important things need to be taken care of throughout the day while working from home.
- COMMUNICATION IS THE KEY, ALWAYS! - Some people have this wonderful and positive perspective of working from home. They say that it gives them enough freedom to work in the luxuries of their home, and provides flexibility in the working pattern. Isn’t it? It is TRUE! One hundred percent! But the real question is – what about the other half of people who don’t have this outlook for the idea of working from home? What are they thinking, really? They are probably feeling confined in the spaces of their house, or they are feeling exhausted from managing multiple roles at the same time, or they are worrying about resource planning for their family, or they are having sheer sense of loneliness. Just while thinking about such feelings and emotions, one can feel pained and drained out. Nevertheless, it is absolutely imperative to realize that such upheavals of emotions are natural in these difficult times, and that these sudden bursts of emotional disturbances lead to unpleasant behavioral outcomes. For instance, the sense of isolation can itself be very stressful, and this stress may manifest in displays of anger and frustration. So, what can be done about it? Here, one should understand the focus of the trigger- what made the person angry or frustrated? It is important to analyze the whole situation, identify the emotions that compelled to react in a certain way, label those emotions as ‘sad’ or ‘angry’, and the next step is to accept. Accept the responsibility of actions. The last and the most important step in this process to deal with stress is ‘COMMUNICATE’. Now that everything is analyzed, identified, and accepted, one must communicate about this to his/her loved one – spouse, a member of family, or a friend. Keep the channels of communication open, so that it is simpler for the other person to understand. In this lockdown situation, where the human interaction has diminished to its lowest, it is the need of the hour that we build and maintain strong human connections with each other – at work and in home, both. Talk to the team mates more often, speak to the school and college buddies, have a meaningful conversation with the boss (apart from just work calls!), or discuss about other interesting things with partner. One doesn’t need to step out of the house - an old-fashioned way of making phone calls does wonders too! Simply be kind and empathic in communication, and allow a chance of expression. This approach of effective communication can take anyone a long way in coping with stress, today and tomorrow!
- LITTLE LIFESTYLE MAKEOVERS - The year 2020 has presented the world with a completely new lifestyle. The millennials are going viral with their binge-worthy web series, cringe-making videos, and create-recreate art-forms, from painting to cooking to dancing and singing. If one comes to think about it, it seems fantastic! The pandemic has brought with itself burdens of new kinds. People are not only anxious about their future, but are also stressed about the present – how to plan the day, what to eat for lunch, how to meet the deadlines at work – all such questions that pop up on a daily basis. But, taking little steps to make sure that the lifestyle is accommodating with these times can be an adaptive way to survive the stressful pressures. For example, getting enough 7 to 8 hours of sound sleep everyday can beat the blues or eating the green veggies and maintaining a healthy diet can keep one fit, or practicing meditation or any relaxation techniques can have a calming effect. It has been well-researched that habits of self-care are effective tools in reducing high amounts of everyday stress. So, little lifestyle makeovers like these are workable in today’s times, and remember this: Let’s rewind ourselves back to such simpler times!
- HOLD ON TO A PURPOSE – Today, everybody is in times of uncertainty, confusion, and anxiety. It is apparent that one may lose hopes or feel helpless, and may also begin to believe that the need and power for control has been taken away. As the future plans and goals of this year, particularly have been pushed under the rug for now, it is undeniably required that people DO NOT lose their ‘sense of purpose’. While one is self – talking in leisure time, ask this – “What is the purpose of my work?” “How do I define my growth and progress?” “Where do I want to see myself in my career?” “What is success and happiness to me?” “How important and significant my job is to me?” --- Asking such meaningful questions navigate a person to find the purpose and help to stick with it. Even in stressful times, when one can’t rely on finding motivation from the external environment, he can look within for a morale boost up and increase the effectiveness in his work. So, take a pause for perspective of a bigger picture and get back to work with passion, enthusiasm, and a teeth smile on the face! Also, don’t forget – WFH is work from home and work for home – Strike that BALANCE correct, and we are good to go!!