For those used to commuting into an office every day, working from home can prove a considerable adjustment. A new survey from Blind shows that a slight majority of technologists are experiencing increased loneliness due to remote work and social distancing.
Specifically, some 52.9 percent of surveyed technologists said they’re experiencing increased loneliness. Even more (56.4 percent) are experiencing anxiety, and 53 percent feel that their productivity levels have been impacted due to changes in mental health while working from home.
Yes, working from home is isolating, and it’s easy to see how those technologists used to an office can feel increasingly depressed by the isolation—and stress—of working alone during a global pandemic. Fortunately, there are some ways to mitigate some of those feelings during this difficult time.
Routine is Key
This is an old piece of advice when it comes to remote work, and it’s easy to see why it has endured. Even though you live at the “office,” you still need to establish times when you’re working, as well as when you’re not.
During this particular crisis, as companies attempt to keep systems running when everyone’s dispersed to their domiciles, you might find yourself working longer-than-normal hours in order to get things done—and that’s probably okay in the short term, if it’s a matter of survival and business continuity. But as things revert to a new “normal,” it’s important to make clear when you’re working—and that your team knows when you’ll be online (as well as when you’re off). Blocking off your calendar can help.
Communication is More Important Than Ever
Even in the best of times, it’s important for remote workers to communicate constantly with their teams and managers. That sort of frequent communication is vital to ensure that project milestones are hit and that nobody miscommunicates something important. During COVID-19, though, there’s another reason: It can ease feelings of isolation.
Across the country, many companies are hosting virtual happy hours and other events to ensure that employees stay connected. These are vital for morale, but you don’t need to wait for HR or your manager to organize something; even reserving a few minutes per day for a “colleague chat” can greatly improve everyone’ mood.
By Day 18 of isolation, it’s very easy to let things slip a little bit, psychologically speaking. You might forget how many days in a row you’ve worn the same jeans (spoiler alert: It’s been at least eight), or you might neglect to shave. After all, it’s not like you have a formal office to go to.
However, cleaning up can provide you with an important psychological boost. As COVID-19 forces new ways of working, many remote employees are even dressing in office casual (or a full-on suit) before moving the 20 feet to their desk. You won’t just look better on camera for your colleagues—you’ll feel better.
Make Sure Your Tech Stack is Ready
A lot of the advice around the home office revolves around keeping the space pristine and neat. And that’s important, especially if you want to present a clean background to your colleagues. But there’s another element that’s just as important: Ensuring your “personal tech stack” is ready for work, whether that means your laptop or a more complicated setup.
Fortunately, sysadmins and other IT support staff are rushing to ensure that employees have an optimum configuration for work. In many cases, workers have been asked to bring their office laptops and other “official” gear home with them, which means they’re (hopefully) ready to work in relatively short order.
Those using their personal hardware for remote work, though, might be in for something of a rude awakening. For example, some kinds of enterprise software are Windows-only, which makes things a little bit tricky for those running Macs or Linux boxes. For others, the speed of their at-home broadband might present another issue. As with other aspects of remote working, resolving these issues involves talking with IT support and your manager—and it’s better to do that at the outset, when everyone is still setting up, than right before a big meeting.
For more COVID-19 content, check out the COVID-19 Jobs Resource Center.