Where does remote work stress come from and how can we reduce it?
Without a doubt - the working world has changed. Video conferencing will remain an essential part of our daily lives. Most of us will still work remote at least a few days a week. And we will keep on seeing many of our colleagues mainly through screens, communicating with them via email or communication platforms like Slack.
On the one hand, this switch to digital workplaces has many advantages. We can write emails from the balcony, can sometimes work in our sweatpants and we escape the stress that is often associated with commuting to the office. Remote work has also a huge benefit when it comes to the balance between family and career.
On the other hand, unfortunately, this new way of working brings with it a bunch of new stress factors that must not be neglected. After a full day working from home we often feel more drained than usual in the evening.
Yet, these negative effects are not inevitable! In this article, we'll take a look at the two biggest stress factors that go along with remote work. We will provide some insights on how we can transform our daily team life so that we can stay balanced, happy and healthy.
Remote work stress factor #1. We don't take enough breaks.
Before the pandemic entered our lives, most of us were taking breaks automatically, as they were naturally integrated into our daily work routine. On the way to a meeting, after a meeting together with colleagues,.... These breaks are much more difficult to integrate in a day working from home. We have to actively decide to take a break. And this is exactly the problem: The more stressed we are, the less breaks we take, although we need them in stressful times more than ever, if we want to stay cognitively fit and balanced. Quite the vicious circle, isn't it?
Here's how we could change that:
Let's integrate breaks into our daily team routine. Just like we did back in school: There are simply some meetings in which a break is a fixed component. It is only important that these pauses are real breaks. If we just let the meeting start 5 minutes later, many people will go back to their to-do list.
So: Let's take active breaks together. Breaks that do us good, but still give us something "to do". But it is important that they are very relaxing and that they allow our brains to rest. For example, a short relaxation, some stretching exercises,....
Finding out the right content for these small breaks was the starting point of our work on the MinQi method and we decided to develop short videos (1-5 minutes) that you can easily integrate into your (virtual) workday.
Remote work stress factor #2. We communicate differently
By seeing our colleagues less "in real life", a very relevant aspect of otherwise daily team communication is eliminated. Communication at the coffee station, in the hallway, before and after meetings, etc.. The new communication has become much more expedient. When we need something from a colleague, want to give feedback, or want to exchange ideas on a topic, we often use emails or instant messages for ex. on Slack. We are increasingly using written communication.
Unfortunately, this is much less emotional than real communication and several cues get lost on the way. Very often, messages can be misinterpreted. For example as "rough", even though it may simply be the sender's style to express themselves briefly and succinctly. Yet, in many cases such communication triggers create stress in us. We humans are pack animals and want to feel safe and secure in our group. And our colleagues are just such a group.
Here's how we could change that:
Let's be intentional about how we communicate. Emojis help ;) . Also, schedule some meetings when the whole team gets together to spend quality time with each other and communicate in a relaxed atmosphere. With part-virtual teams, this will probably still happen in the digital space. Instead of just getting together and waiting for a good conversation to happen like in "real life", use Icebreakers or small games. Such an Icebreaker can be, for example, the question: Which animal best reflects your team? You can also find Icebreakers in our portal.
Do you also want to de-stress your team's everyday life?
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