Take “water cooler” breaks – This is necessary but tricky to navigate at home. At the office, someone will know that you went to the water cooler or bathroom and can relay that to anyone looking for you. At home, unless you keep turning the “away” notification on and off and on and off, no one will know. Remote workers never want headquarters to think they’re slacking off and immediately respond to every alert or message. Both you and folks back at the office need to come to an understanding that this is not always possible. They’re usually OK with a slightly delayed response, it’s you that need to unclench. It’s a process. If you must respond immediately, download the communications app to your phone so you can respond when away from the computer.
Leave the “office” with your colleagues – When five or six o’clock rolls around, sign off and leave your house or apartment, even if for a walk around the block or a trip to the store. If you plan on working late as we all do on occasion, take a break for an hour or so, run errands or grab coffee with a friend and then start back up. If possible, spend overtime hours at another location, like a coffee shop, or else your work space will intrude even further into your personal space.
The weekend is yours. Claim it – When I left an all-consuming entrepreneurial venture after three years of unhealthy working habits, I would send and reply to emails at all hours of the day and night during weekends at my new job. After a few weekends, the powers that be were like, dude, chill out on the weekends, we need you fresh and productive during the week. Grateful for the lesson, I took it to heart and only cheat a little every Sunday night with an hour or so to prepare for the week ahead. Look, I enjoy going into the office on an occasional Saturday to knock a project off with no interruptions, but I now make that the exception, and when when I do, I make sure that any weekend “office” time is away from home.
Working at home can be both a privilege and burden. It can be more of the former if you take steps to mimic the practices of your colleagues back at the office.
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