Tips for dealing with the stress of working from home

Written by Lizanne Sampaio

Working from home can be a challenge and could lead to stress levels that are difficult to manage alone. In this update, Lizanne Sampaio, HR Business Partner, provides tips to help home workers combat some common causes of work-related stress.

A recent survey of US businesses1 reports that over 69% of workers are experiencing symptoms of stress and burnout while working from home. Workplace stress not only affects the health and wellbeing of employees, but also the productivity of organizations. UK businesses lost 17.9 million working days due to work-related stress, depression, or anxiety during 2019/20.2

Overwhelming workplace stress can be triggered by a combination of events. For example, an employee may feel isolated when working from home, a sudden lack of routine may heighten their anxiety, the demands from multiple distractions may feel unmanageable, or the virtual team they are part of may have changed their way of working.

Here are some ideas that may help you combat these common causes of workplace stress.

Has working from home left you feeling isolated?

  • Align some of your working hours with your co-workers and speak to them. We have teams in based in Singapore and London, and they have regular virtual meetings that work for both time zones. Try it, it can help you get to know each other, strengthen partnerships, and encourage creativity.

  • Invite colleagues to join you in some online charity fundraising. Many charities have websites with ideas for virtual fundraising that you can do together from your own homes. Here’s how one colleague is fundraising at home and raising money for Breast Cancer Now.

  • Go outside for a break at least once a day if you can. A change of environment can help reinvigorate the mind and lessen the impact of isolation.

Are you struggling to structure your working day?

  • Be consistent with your start and stop times, breaks, and lunches each day. Share this in your online calendar so colleagues know when you will be available to collaborate.

  • Write a task list that you can review with your colleagues or manager. At the end of day check your progress and recognize what you have achieved. Some of the tasks could focus on improving your homeworking situation; try these 10 strategies to help manage stress when working from home. 

  • At the end of your working day – STOP! In the current health and economic climate, it is understandable that work demands may have increased or personal anxiety about job security has risen. But you do need time to relax and recharge so you can be productive and efficient the next day.

Has the increase in online meeting requests, emails, and instant messages resulted in too many virtual distractions?

  • Find out if your email or chat service has a “Busy – do not disturb” feature and switch it on when you need to.

  • Take breaks from your computer and telephone. Checking your emails while eating lunch may feel like an efficient use of time, but moving away gives your eyes and brain a break and could give you the head-space to think of a fresh perspective for a piece of work.

  • Learn to say “No”. Saying no is not a rejection of your colleagues, it is simply making sure that you give them your full attention when you have time. Try saying “I’ll think about it and will get back to you” or “This sounds important so let’s make a time to talk”.

Have there been times when you have struggled with leading your team when you are all working remotely?

  • Set expectations about working from home with your team. Do this early and often. Provide clear guidelines, agree milestones, and provide boundaries for behaviours – such as how to respond to out-of-hours requests. Your team will appreciate your support and it will help them maintain a healthy work/life balance.

  • Check-in with your team a couple of times each week. You can make these conversations short and productive by setting time and agenda boundaries. For example, each colleague has 3 minutes to share:

    i. Yesterday I worked on…
    ii. Today I will be working on…
    iii. Issues I need help with are…

  • Remember you have a good team. Be available to them. Remind them of their strengths. Help them develop. Equip yourself with the skills to be a great delegator. Ask for help from your peers or human resources team. Use our 6 tips for fostering connectivity.

It’s great to talk, please stay in touch.

One in five3 adults in the US struggles with mental health, and at PRMA Consulting we encourage everyone to be more open about mental health – to talk, to listen, and to show kindness.

Talking about mental health can feel awkward but it doesn’t have to be. To normalize conversations about mental health, PRMA Consulting is delivering a program of virtual workshops and activities that supports our commitment to wellbeing at work.

Stay in touch

I would love to hear how your organization supports you with stress management and wellbeing. Please get in touch at info@prmaconsulting.com or subscribe to our updates and be part of the evolving conversation.

Further reading:

  1. Remote work burnout is growing as pandemic stretches on.

  2. Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain, 2020. 

  3. Mental health facts in America. 

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