As of today, the Bluebird Botanicals team has been working from home for 222 days. That’s over 60 percent of the calendar year.
Whether your company is like Bluebird in keeping most of its workforce remote, it’s no secret that the remote work landscape exploded earlier this year when COVID quarantine measures took over. And this is at a time when remote work has already been increasing by leaps and bounds over the last couple of decades - 159 percent from 2005 to 2017, in fact.
With even major tech companies like Google and Twitter keeping on the remote work path, this workforce shift is looking more like a permanent recalibration. That means it’s important to find ways to really lean into the work-from-home experiences and make it work for you - for the long-term.
Bluebird’s Lead Web Developer Ralph Legge was a bit of a trendsetter in the remote workforce and agreed to share his takeaway tips from a few years of working from home. He notes that what works for him might not work for you, so stay open to getting inspired by these tips, even if they aren’t a sure match for your needs.
This comprehensive list is not intended to be a to-do list for immediate implementation. Take note of a few ideas that you think might be for you and try gradually introducing them into your work from home routine.
1. Create a cozy, comfortable workspace.
Have a comfy chair that allows you to maintain good posture. Good posture helps in the long run, especially if you’re sitting in front of a computer screen for eight hours a day.
Set the desk height and screen heights to fit your body. Make sure that you can view your screen comfortably with your head level above your heart. Make sure your shoulders and wrists sit comfortably when you’re in your working posture. Trust us on this one.
Add items to your desk that make you smile - these can include small pictures, plants (if your lighting allows), or things you can fidget with when your hands need to stay busy during that Zoom meeting.
- Don’t forget about lighting! Lighting can play a huge factor in your mood - and on eye strain. Learning the right brightness of your screen for your eyes as well as blue light glasses or settings can dramatically improve how your eyes feel after being on screen all day. You could also consider investing in a day light lamp to help with the upcoming winter blues.
2. Separate work from home.
Create a spot in your home that is a designated workspace. This can help trick your mind into thinking you’re “at work” when you reach that spot in your house, creating a natural boost in productivity. It also makes it easier to turn off work mode when you return to your “home” space.
- Your workspace doesn’t have to be its own room - you can even drape a curtain around a small desk to give that feeling of separation.
- Know when to switch it up. Just because you have your designated workspace doesn’t mean you can’t work from your couch or front porch every so often. You can always return to your workspace.
- “Leave work” at the end of the day. Go for a walk, drive to the store, move to your favorite reading nook and turn a few pages - anything that gets you out of the work mindset.
3. Keep your workspace tidy and functional.
- Keeping your desk clean and organized allows you to focus on your work, not on the mess in the corner whispering, “Clean me.”
Bonus: an organized workspace can be the difference between finding things in a quick second or it being lost “forever.”
- Use technology to your advantage. Find tools to help keep you organized and focused. You can explore apps like Forest that uses a growing tree to help you stay focused, or block out work blocks on your Google Calendar to help you adhere to your project timelines.
Related Article: Bluebird Botanicals’ Favorite Wellness Apps and Podcasts
Mental Health Tips
1. Talk to at least one real person daily.
This can definitely be virtually or on the phone.
- Getting outside of your internal monologue and talking to an actual person - about anything - each day can help you remember that you aren’t alone, let off some steam, or learn about something new.
It doesn't have to be a long conversation or anything more than a catch-up. But it makes a difference.
2. Stay connected to a group of people.
- Connection is essential for us humans to thrive. Group chats with old friends where you can send memes, check-in, vent, or just say hello can help get you out of those four walls and connect you to others.
3. Routine, routine, routine.
- Try to wake up and fall asleep regularly at the same time. It helps me maintain a good body clock, and notice if your body isn’t right.
- Getting dressed for work, even if you technically don’t need to change out of your pajamas, can really set the tone for a productive day.
- If your schedule permits it, do one “nice thing” for yourself as part of your morning routine. Maybe it’s pausing to savor a cup of coffee in silence, a home-exercise class, a morning meditation, or listening to a song that makes you feel good. Incorporating something that feels indulgent into your daily routine can help start your day with a sense of ease.
4. Take breaks!
- Both pre-scheduled breaks, and as-needed. There are some studies that say 40 on and 20 off keeps a person productive, but find what works for you. Do make sure you put a stretch break, coffee break, or other on your calendar. You’d be surprised at what 10 minutes away from the screen can do for you - and how easily it is to blow past your break if it isn’t scheduled.
- Just finished a huge task? Consider giving those eyes a nice break and going for a walk outside before diving into your next project.
- Those who have a pet with walking needs have a natural, built-in excuse to take a break outside and get some fresh air.
5. Get out and away from screens daily.
- Daily exercise has shown to help in many ways. Yoga, a walk, a run, jump rope, or a quick bike ride for even 15 minutes can really make a difference.
- Try learning a new hobby that expands on your non-computer based activities. It doesn’t all have to be exercise - cooking, crafting, reading, or volunteering are all great options. Learning something new can be humbling and get your brain working in new ways that could benefit your work/life balance!
6. Manage expectations.
- Set goals for the day. This can help with workflow management as well as staying organized and focused.
- Remember to be adaptable. Managing expectations also means realizing when a project timeline needs to be altered, and that you can’t do everything in a day.
7. Hard day? Treat yourself.
- Consider keeping a “rainy day” box of treats on hand. These don’t have to be sweet candy, or even edible for that matter. You could keep a favorite smelling essential oil, a special tea you enjoy, or a new book you’re looking forward to reading. Maybe even a new CBD product you haven't tried yet.
8. Ask for help.
- This can be both within the workplace and on a personal level. If you are having trouble with a work task, speak with your manager or a co-worker who can help - this will help you find the best way to proceed, as well as help manage expectations for your team and keep projects moving.
- If your budget allows, consider speaking to a therapist. Even if you don’t feel like you have any sort of imbalance in your mental health, a therapist can help you clarify patterns that might be holding you back or areas you want to focus on for growth. And there’s certainly no shame in progress.
- Return the favor. Providing that help to others also can give that special spark in someone’s day. Sharing the light might help make your day shine just that extra bit you need!
9. Take time to engage in professional development.
- Learning something new is always a great way to keep your brain healthy. When you can apply those learnings to work, it's a double whammy! Even if it's a Youtube video or reading an article, anything helps.
10. Separate work from home - and your personal life.
- Yes, this is the second time we’re touching on this, but it’s a point that bears repeating, especially as working remotely becomes the norm. Your work is not synonymous with your life.
- Keep all non-work things off your computer. This helps both with avoiding distractions but also leaves you with things to enjoy when you sign off for the day.
- Set boundaries with your team - and yourself. Most of the time, no one really needs to get your email response at 9 p.m. instead of 9 a.m. the next morning. Just because you have access to your workspace at all hours does not mean you should be available to work 24/7.