Whether or not you grew up watching The Flintstones, you can probably relate to Fred’s famous “Yabba, Dabba, Doo!” scream at the end of his work day.
We can all relate with Fred because, for better or worse, the workplace is associate with stress. But what if Fred worked remotely? What if instead of leaving the quarry, each day, Fred actually lived where he worked.
That’s what we face in today’s work world, a place where the lines between work and home are increasingly blurred. And with those blurred lines comes increased anxiety.
Here are some intentional things remote teams can do each day to help keep those lines clear and lower their stress levels.
Have a schedule
You’ve heard of the advantages of “killing two birds with one stone.” Having a set schedule when you work remotely kills 6-10 birds with one stone. When you worked together in the office, you were on a synchronized schedule. Now, many remote teams kind of do their own team. And while there’s some positive in that flexibility, a lack of structure can lead to a lack of productivity.
It can also mean more decisions on a daily basis. Contrary to what you might think, more decisions mean more, not less stress. Regular schedules can help make some of those menial everyday decisions for you, which means you don’t really have to think about them.
One caveat, don’t let the tail wag the dog. Schedules are designed to reduce stress, not add to it. If you get off schedule a little bit, learn to adapt and let it go.
If you’ve worked from home for any length of time, you know how easy it can be to just stay at your desk. By the end of the day, your eyes are bleary, your back hurts and you butt is numb. You get up and your joints snap, crackle and pop.
Build breaks into your schedule. Take the time to avert your gaze, to change your posture, and get up and move around to get blood circulating. This will be a positive for your physical and your mental fitness.
Stay connected with your remote team
Wayne and Kevin both talk a lot about the tendency with remote teams to slide into “just business” mode and forget about connecting as people. You need to be mindful that you all are human beings. That means you were made to relate with each other (yes, even us introverts!).
Hopefully you have a Slack channel or some other dedicated place you can go to talk about non-work related matters. On the KEG team, we share memes, have a book club, compete in March Madness brackets, talk smack about our favorite college football teams…you get the idea. We even share our Wordle scores!
Nothing helps reduce conflict and lower anxiety than regular reminders that you work with people, not just thumbnail images on email or Zoom accounts.
Avoid office creep
Just like Fred left his Dino-digger at the quarry, you need to leave your work stuff at work…even if your work space is another room in your house. When your work day is done, it’s time to disconnect. Turn off the Slack notifications on your phone and your watch. And don’t take your work computer out of that work space unless it’s a 911 emergency.
When possible, intentionally engage in non-screen activities when the work day is done. Go somewhere and interact with people face to face. Get outside when the weather allows and soak in some fresh air and sunshine. In other words, intentionally do the opposite of what you’re doing during the work day.
And by all means, respect the time and space of your colleagues. Don’t give them any expectations that would keep them from adopting any of these mindfulness techniques.
Mental fitness has a ripple effect on our productivity and ultimately our physical health. For us to have successful remote teams, we must be successful as people first. Get on demand access to our free Fostering Our Mental Fitness event to learn more about being healthier in mind and body.
About the author
When he’s not working as the Content Strategy Coordinator for The Kevin Eikenberry Group, Chuck Chapman is a Marriage and Family Therapist serving individuals and families in crisis throughout Indiana. He also applies his knowledge and experience working with systemic interventions to businesses and organizations to help them regulate stress levels and build healthier and more productive relationships.