Remote Work: Finding a New Normal

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Remote Work: Finding a New Normal

As many employees embrace remote working, remember to care for your mental and physical health.

06/01/2022
woman-at-computer-in-virtual-meeting

A changing job landscape

The Pew Research Center found that as of January 2022, 59% of people who could work from home were doing so all or most of the time (compared to just 23% before the pandemic). And a 2021 Gallup study found that 91% of remote or hybrid workers hope to remain so after the pandemic, with more than half preferring hybrid. The main reasons offered include avoiding the commute, the flexibility of balancing work and personal responsibilities, and improved well-being from having extra time in the day. 

While many remote workers enjoy the setup, many feel disconnected from their coworkers. A recent study from the UK found that 53% of remote workers worry about being left out of in-person team meetings and other office activities, with over a third fearing being overlooked for promotions or pay increases. This feeling may lead to increased anxiety or stress for remote workers.

“Humans are naturally social creatures,” said Dr. Kelly McGuire, medical director of behavioral health for EmblemHealth. “When people spend most of their day in a work environment, continued feelings of exclusion or being overlooked could have a negative impact on their mental wellness.”

Work/life balance

When working from home, you may need to make a more conscious effort to care for your mental and physical health. “Remember to set boundaries, both mental and physical,” said Dr. McGuire. “This will help you protect and nurture your overall health.”

A designated physical space can help promote mental clarity. Set up a dedicated work area that includes an organized desk or table, a comfortable chair, and good lighting (preferably natural light). While working, limit distractions from cell phones, social media, and emails, and even from other people in your home. 

Take breaks during the day to go for a walk, stretch, or meditate. This will help you refocus and reset your mind. Then, avoid staying online too long by setting up an online work calendar and sticking to it. This lets your coworkers know when you’re available and when you’re not. And schedule after-work activities to ensure you log off at the end of the workday. 

Many companies are starting to plan in-person activities like meet-and-greet lunches and community volunteer events to boost morale and build camaraderie among their hybrid workforce. When you feel comfortable, joining these activities may help you feel closer to your colleagues and provide a welcome change of pace to working from home on your own. 

There are little things you can do to enhance your remote-working experience and build relationships with colleagues. “Find opportunities to create virtual watercoolers to connect and initiate conversations with coworkers,” said Dr. McGuire. “For example, you could schedule time to introduce yourself to a new hire, use down time before a virtual meeting starts to ask people what they like to do on their weekends, or use an internal messaging platform to discuss a work topics or build individual relationships.” 

Staying active at home

Working from home means missing out on things that may keep you moving, like going to meetings, visiting people’s desks, or simply walking around the office. Here are a few ways to help you add activity to a remote workday:

  • Try to stretch at least once an hour. Or, tune into a free, virtual chair yoga class, offered weekly by EmblemHealth Neighborhood Care.

  • Walk around when you’re on a call or take a walk at lunchtime to get some extra steps in. Bring your dog if you have one!

  • Use a yoga ball as a chair or your kitchen counter as a standing desk for an hour or two. 

  • Do you thrive on competition? Organize a steps challenge with other remote workers to see who can get the most steps each week. It’ll keep you connected to your team while pushing you to add movement every day.

Whether you’re in the office, working from home, or a combination of the two, make sure you create a routine that puts your wellness first. 

Help when you need it

Learn more about the mental health resources included with EmblemHealth plans. 

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