BEST PRACTICE

Avoiding work-from-home burnout in the New Year

Matt Erspamer By Matt Erspamer, Copywriter, Extra Mile Marketing

Which part of the apartment will I work from today? The kitchen table? The couch?

What if I just stay in bed? Is that allowed?

Nine months into Covid-19, it’s no secret that workflows have been drastically altered for many of us this year. The widespread switch to remote work in March happened so suddenly that we had to make up new routines on the fly.

Is today the day I invest in a standing desk?

Would Room Rater like this conference call background?

Can my coworkers hear that recycling bin getting dumped into the back of a city truck outside?

(Yes, they can).

Because millions of us have now made this adjustment, remote working could be one of the Covid-19-era changes that never fully shifts back. In fact, some companies, including Microsoft and Google, have already said they are letting many employees adopt flexible work-from-home schedules.

I have been working remotely the entire time I’ve been part of the Extra Mile Marketing team.  That meant getting to know my new coworkers and all of our clients virtually, and collaborating with them on projects of all shapes and sizes via Microsoft Teams.

When I started in late March, my colleague Jessica Stevenson had a warning.

“I think this is the busiest we’ve ever been,” she told me.

She also said I couldn’t have picked a better time to join the team, because the projects we had coming up would require all of us. In my first couple of weeks, I helped with a website overhaul, started work on several eBooks, and took part in several brainstorm sessions.

Jumping in with both feet at EMM also meant optimizing my work-from-home workflow as I went along. In addition to learning about all of our clients, I’ve also learned a lot about how to effectively operate while working remotely.

As we all look back on this wild year, here are some helpful habits I picked up in 2020 that I look forward to bringing into 2021:

Outline your week.

Don’t start each day without a road map. One thing I’ve picked up this year is to set aside time on Friday afternoons or Monday mornings to look at the week ahead. What do I have to get done? How much of my time will each of these projects take? Because large portions of our days are spent hopping between scheduled virtual meetings, it became just as important for me to block out solo working time on my calendar.

Look away from the computer.

When working in an office, you might have left your desk to go ask a coworker a question or meet in the conference room. Now, as all those meetings are conducted virtually, there is little reason to ever get up from your computer.  Spending so much time glued to a screen can make your eyes twitch if you’re not careful, so it’s important to schedule periodic breaks. Being able to do your best work means recognizing when you’re burning out. So yes, it’s okay to step away for 5 or 10 minutes between calls and have another cup of coffee or give your pet some extra attention.

Stay in touch with your coworkers!

Working from home can be isolating, and it can make operating in such a collaborative environment difficult when it doesn’t have to be. The EMM team came up with a really fun, creative solution to stay connected. Each day at noon, we all gather in a Teams room for a 30-minute huddle. Sometimes we show off what we’ve been working on that, other times we play trivia games. But what really helped me, as the new kid on the block, was just getting to know the team through casual conversation during these daily meetings. Hearing about what they’re doing with their family that weekend, and then sometimes seeing those same family members step into their background on camera, really made me feel like I was part of the team.

Go for a walk.

One of the best habits I developed when I started working from home is making time to get some fresh air. Because I live in the city, I used to rely on public transit and walking to commute to work. I didn’t realize just how much I missed the latter until I had a lot fewer reasons to leave my apartment. Walking in and of itself is now reason enough to get out. Even if the weather is nasty outside (Hello, rainy Seattle winters), I still try to get a quick lap in around my neighborhood. It’s a nice way to clear my head and center myself before jumping back into work.

As we prepare to walk away from 2020, EMM is excited to look ahead to all the great work we have planned with our valued clients. We’re also excited for the new ones that a New Year will bring.

If you’d like to kick off 2021 by revamping your Thought Leadership or crafting a strategic marketing campaign, reach out to me at matt@emminc.com.

STATS & FACTS

5 million employees work from home for at least half the time.

Recent studies show that even just 20 minutes per day spent in nature can lower stress hormone levels, boost self-esteem and improve mood.

Did you know digital eye strain is a thing? It can cause significant discomfort— sore or tired eyes, blurry vision, dry eyes, headaches, and even neck or shoulder pain.

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