Many people are forced to work from home now for a longer period than ever before. Maybe you had the chance to set up your home office every once in a while, but you are still used to going to the office in the morning and with the end of work hours heading home. A virtual workplace at home is certainly fun and promising in the beginning but can get really tough with time passing. We are social beings, and isolation becomes damaging even to the most introverted person. And if you are an expat, already coping with a certain sense of isolation, this period won’t be easy. Even more isolation and a great amount of uncertainty is a lot to take.
But it’s not the end of the world! After all, we keep hearing about how virtuality only distances us, but now the tables have turned: virtuality will bring us closer in a time when we have to reduce social interactions to the bare minimum. It’s time we put digital possibilities to the best use!
So, here are a 6 tips on how not to despair from the isolation of the home office, with special attention to expats, who are far away from their home now.
1 – Keep A Strict Schedule
No. 1 rule: No working in pyjamas! that’s only fun in movies, believe me. In reality the first thing you can do to keep yourself together when working virtually from home and staying inside all day, is keeping the frame of your day just as before the lockdown. Wake up, have your coffee, take a shower if you are a morning shower-person, keep your usual morning routine, dress up, and then sit down in your home office. Arrive to the workplace, which now means logging in to all the work-related e-mails and chats, programmes, etc, do your job, and at the end of work hours “go home”, which means log out from everywhere, have lunch, go take a walk around the house/block if you can still go outside, or do whatever else that gives you the opportunity to feel that the work day is over. It helps if you don’t go back straight to your laptop, but choose offline activities. Spend a few hours away from the laptop, so you don’t end up feeling that everything is the same all the time.
2 – Set Up A Designated Workspace
If this is your first time home office-ing, this is also a very important first step. Keep your workspace separate from where you sleep, eat, read, watch your favourite series, and generally spend your free time at home. Set up a little desk somewhere, and name that your virtual workplace, and keep the rest of the house your home. This will also help you work better, because you will still have the feeling of “being at work”, and not “staying at home”, and it will also mentally help you healthily compartmentalize your life, and not let everything become a big blur.
3 – Exercise, And Fresh Air
Exercise becomes even more important if you are staying home. Some simple online fitness classes can help a lot, or even better, you can give yoga a try! Working with your breath, and equally working on muscle strength and flexibility is worth gold. It will help you stay fresh, both physically and mentally. And don’t forget to open the windows each day. Don’t underestimate the magic sunshine and fresh air can do both for your plants and yourself.
4 – Hungry Or Bored?
Something you might not think of at first, and only realize it when you are already doing it big time: compensating by eating. Home office is typically one of those situations when it’s really easy to just have a bite here and a bite there, and this is not good. I’m not only talking about gaining weight. It’s not healthy, and you know: a healthy mind in a healthy body. It’s easier to look for consolation in junk food and start snacking, but this will do more harm in the long run. Pay attention to keep healthy eating habits!
5 – Aim For Connection
Talk to your co-workers. Keep having your team meetings virtually, and don’t only communicate via instant messages and email. If you have been home for long enough, then having a 1h-call where you can see your colleagues will work as magic, believe me! True that you will still be sitting in your home, but you will get dragged out of the circles you are running in your head, and you will realize that the world is still out there.
6 – Talk To Someone
There are experienced coaches out there, who can not only help you with the challenges of expat life, but also with the isolation, and they can also give you support in maintaining a healthy and fruitful virtual collaboration. As I said earlier: now is the time to put all the online resources and possibilities to good use!
- The first thing you can do to keep yourself together when working from home, is keeping the frame of your day.
- Set up a little desk somewhere, and name that your home office, and keep the rest of the house your home.
- Exercise becomes even more important if you are staying home.
- If you have been home for long enough, then having a 1h-call where you can see your colleagues will work as magic.