Dealing with Stress When Working From Home

by: Chelsea Hoopaugh

 

Even as I write this opening sentence, I'm plagued by a Boston Terrier barking at the cacophony of weed eaters and leaf blowers just outside my "office" window. That's right...I'm working from home. While some of us may have been lucky enough to land jobs that have always allowed remote work, many of us are navigating the ins and outs of working from home for the first time. And it turns out that productivity can look and feel quite different when you're out of office; working from home can be stressful.

Collaborating can be challenging, even with technology. Communicating takes longer and is far less effective than face-to-face. And the biggest culprit of all, hindering all that work energy flow--concentration. So there you have it, the three C's: collaboration, communication, and concentration. These are the key components to a productive workday, yet they are the three biggest stressors when working from home. But fret not. We've got some tips and advice from seasoned work-from-home professionals to help you conquer the three C's and boss from home, stress free.

Collaboration: Working together in an inclusive environment has become a workplace staple, and a skill that, when face-to-face, we take for granted. When working remotely, collaboration suddenly becomes less organic, and more stressful. Here are a few tips to make collaborating from home a little easier.

1. Understand the purpose of the collaboration; sounds simple, but people really do need to know why they are needed.

2. Be transparent. Own mistakes and ask for help. *this was the #1 tip we heard again and again in terms of easing work at home stress*
    3. Set individual and team goals. Remembering that there is no "I" in team can lend a surprising boost in morale.


      Communicating: Nothing creates more work stress than ineffective communication. Here are a few tips to make communicating from home a little easier. 

      1. Over-communicate. Got a question? Ask it. Want to comment? Post it. Even the best communicators can second guess themselves when working remotely. If it's something you'd communicate out loud in a face-to-face setting, then do the same from home.

      2. Actively listen. Listening intently and actively is the best way to avoid stressful communication.

      3.. Avoid communicating via email. While email is a great way to send information, it's not the best form of communication. Try a video app, or go old school and actually talk on the phone in lieu of texting. 


      Concentration: This may be the trickiest of the work-from-home stressors. What's that, the laundry is done? Better go fold it. Maybe I'll just watch one episode of Grey's while I take my lunch break--three episodes later. And if you've got a baby or small child at home...forget about it. So how does one block out distractions and concentrate on work without losing her mind? Here are a few tips to make concentrating at home a little easier.

      1. Location, location, location. You need: a cleared and flat surface with enough space to hold all your materials; nearby outlets, consider a power strip; comfortable seating...but never the couch.

      2. Block distracting websites and apps. Did you know that when we are distracted, it can take up to 23 minutes to regain our focus? Try using a site blocker to keep all your worst distractions temporarily blocked.

      3. Enjoy breaks. This is the most crucial tip for both more focus and less stress. If you allow yourself the time to break, and we mean fully break, then you are not only going to be refreshed and motivated to focus when you begin working again, but you'll have had some time to relax and de-stress. This is the time when you can watch that one episode of Grey's, or have a tea party with your little one, or take your pup out for a walk, or fold that laundry--if that's what you're in to. The point is, consciously breaking allows you to set boundaries, harness productivity, and hopefully ease stress.


      One last bit of advice on dealing with the stress of working from home: make human contact. It is hard not to see the people you're used to working with day in and day out. The people with whom you probably spend a majority of your time with. Suddenly finding yourself working from home can leave you feeling a bit lonely. Be sure to reach out to at least one to three of these people a day, to help you feel connected. Remembering you're not alone is the best stress relief of all.