April 10, 2020

Work From Home's Mental Health Hurdles

Allison Buss
April 10, 2020

Work From Home's Mental Health Hurdles

Allison Buss

Working from home has presented a new set of challenges for Spreetailers as we combine work and play under the same roof. Many lifestyles are taking a turn for the quiet and confined as we prioritize health and safety during the Coronavirus outbreak — and without the right precautions — we all risk feeling burnout, isolation, and anxiety. Below are some of the biggest mental health hurdles during this time and practices our team has put in place to overcome them.

Distance and Isolation

Social distancing, self-isolation, and working from home add up to an amount of time spent inside our homes that many of us have never experienced before. Less contact with friends and family can dampen spirits and lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Our team has been combatting feelings of isolation with some of the tactics below.  

  • Be intentional about small talk. Some Spreetailers have started to build in ice-breaker time to kick off their meetings and trying the “mullet meeting” format with business in the front and time for fun and chit chat in the back.  
  • Have a virtual coffee date. We’ve been organizing “Coffee Connect” sessions where groups of three or four Spreetailers pair up with team members in different departments and meet over video on Friday mornings.
  • Default to video. We use video meetings rather than audio whenever possible. Facetime helps bridge the virtual divide between teammates and heighten feelings of togetherness.
Abbie, Dave, Zane, Rachel and Dana cheers-ing during our Friday morning Coffee Connect.

Attention and Focus

When working, living, sleeping, and eating in the same place, it can be hard to silence the background noise and focus on work.  These tactics have helped us improve our focus and attention while at home.  

  • Sort your tasks. Organization and prioritization can help ensure you are spending the most time where it matters. We’re using the Eisenhower Method to sort our to-do's and allocate our attention where it’s most important.  
  • Use the Pomodoro Technique. Some Spreetailers have tried The Pomodoro Technique to boost productivity — a helpful work method that divides your focused attention time into more manageable segments. Set a timer for 25 minutes and give your work your undivided attention. Afterwards, take a 5-minute break and continue that cycle to power through your tasks.  

Pressure and Burnout

Working in an office setting adds a natural rhythm to the day with commutes, lunch, and breaks during work. Without this natural structure, it’s easy for day to blend into night, and work to bleed into personal time in the evenings. Here are our tips to ease feelings of pressure or burnout.  

  • Don’t be afraid to take the time you need. Working from home does not negate the need for occasional time off and the need to step away from your to-do list. We encourage our team to be upfront about their needs and how they are handling their workload.  
  • Practice mindfulness or meditation. Both of these can help ease feelings of anxiety and depression and lead to better stress management abilities in the long term. Our team has been hosting a Virtual Yoga session each Friday over lunch to help us ease our bodies and minds.
  • Relocate for breaks. Close your computer and take time away from your “office”. Give your eyes, shoulders, brain, and rear end a break from sitting.  
Sam’s dog, Ellie, showing perfect form in down-dog during Spreetail’s Virtual Yoga.

Expecting Perfection

There’s a lot of societal pressure to "make the most" of this time and be more productive than ever. It is no small feat to work from home, take care of your family, stay virtually connected with your community, and stay safe and healthy. While we’re all for pursuing challenges and raising our bar, we’re also allowing ourselves some time for trial and error when getting accustomed to the new normal.

  • Find your support system. Lean on others and be there for them in return. Talking through your struggles is a helpful way to reflect and refocus your energy where it matters.  
  • Spend time on fun. Sometimes we get caught up in all of the things we should be doing and forget to take time to just relax. At Spreetail, we’re holding Virtual Trivia on Friday afternoons to help us unwind. Watch the video below to see if you can answer Quiz Master Mike's tough question!
  • Take care of your body.  Fresh air, Vitamin D, physical activity, and plenty of water can go a long way for both your mind and body. Taking time to care for yourself can boost your mood and should not be an afterthought.  

Want to learn more about how to manage and break up your day while working from home? Check out our blog on How to Make a Smooth Transition to Working from Home.

Allison Buss

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