Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

Keeping sanity with Home Office in COVID times

With the vaccination process slightly boosting, some advanced economies are opening up slowly. City centers begin to get crowded, eating at restaurants sounds exciting and social life blossoms again. Some of us are even scared that people create the risk of a new wave with their careless attitude.

It was definitely a difficult year and full of uncertainty for everyone and still is. The quarantine period fed us with various stressors that made the process of social distancing even more unbearable. During the long lock-down periods we developed feelings of anger, PTSD and phobic avoidance behaviors. The concern of infecting our beloved ones made us stick to isolation. The economic downgrade increased the fear of losing our job. Sense of loneliness, demoralization, boredom, fear, anxiety and depression has become a new normal for all of us.

Our mental health decreased. As more confined and repetitive our lives become as we age, the use of hippocampus decreases. When there is no distinction of activities in different days, remembering what happened feels like a rocket science. Our brain does not recognize different spatial objects to tag a meaning to it, thus it feels like everything is the same. Feeling tired of doing the same thing throughout the day with no pause and anxiety disturb our sleep as well.

COVID pandemics broke through technological, social and cultural barriers that hindered remote work in the past, and set new standards for where the works should take place, at least for some people. We have added the commute time back to our productive window, stretched greater flexibility in our professional and personal life balance. Home Office opened the new Pandora box that will change the employment and working style forever. Companies have access to a new pool of candidates with no location constraints and can start to save from real-estate costs.

To be able to keep our productivity and sanity in the COVID Home Office period, we should reflect and improve upon our mindset and attitude towards our professional and personal life:

  • Take some time for self-reflection Self-reflection is the fundamental prerequisite of controlling our attitude towards daily, both private and professional, matters, especially the obstacles or problems that we face every day. It is about monitoring and evaluating our feelings. Without understanding what we are feeling, we get lost. With the amount of mixed feelings the lock-down and isolation we are fed, it is ever more significant to recognize them and find the root cause of them.
  • Social Connectivity – Either in virtual or in hybrid settings, it’s essential to have some social communication. Boundaries between physical and virtual contact will collapse and we need to upgrade our culture, technology and business practices to maintain productivity and collaboration, and to preserve corporate culture.
  • Dedicated Workspace just for work – having a dedicated workspace helps our brain to prepare itself for the focus and commitment we need. By repeating the given activity many times in a fixed environment with the help of reward created at the end, we can learn to perform the behavior more automatically, even at one point we will not care about the reward anymore. Moreover, that environment supports the automation of the routine.
  • Crank up the communication – with colleagues, friends or beloved ones. In order to not to fall into the trap of loneliness, make sure to have a communication loop with people regularly. At work having a daily stand-up with the team ensures the transparency for the collaboration
  • Regular breaks and unplugging – breaks help us improve our focus and performance. Especially if those moments are used for quiet moments, such as meditation, sport or simply doing nothing. Moreover, when the work is done it’s quite important to unplug completely and have activities for the rest of the day.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves…”

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

– Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

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