There is no doubt that the situation generated by COVID-19 has made us rethink many aspects, some intentionally and others, unfortunately, forcedly. Among them, one of those that has had the greatest impact on our day to day has been the obligation to work remotely.
Before the Pandemic broke into our lives, remote working was a kind of situation with great potential for family conciliation or certain conditions related to health. But the truth is that our way of understanding it was more ideal than concrete, since its implantation was a minority. For this reason, with the new crisis, the situation has had to be reverted by force to become a reality with figures that were unthinkable just a year ago.
Lack of preparation
The speed of this change has meant that in many cases we do not have adapted our way of working at home. We have had to deal with many limitations that were not taken into account in our informal conversations on the subject.
For example, what would our artboard be? The same as the one we eat in? Is the dim lighting enough to spend so much time in front of a screen? How can I postpone the demands of the people who live with me? Have I ever had to deal with so many possibilities? to procrastinate?
All of the above must be transferred to a new workplace where resources are limited and the environment is not adapted. Does the above mean that you have to resign yourself to a worse work environment? The answer is no. If the evolutionary history of our species has taught us one thing, it is that adaptability lies deep within our biology.
Therefore, we are going to try to expose a series of aspects to take into account and adapt our work to conditions that a priori seem limited. However, these can be resignified in an adaptation to circumstances in many unfavorable cases, for which we are more than prepared.
Why are we going to talk about adaptation and not resignation? Especially since job matching has a long tradition within psychology and other disciplines. Specifically ergonomics. Its long research history reveals very useful results to face our forced adaptation to our new workplace.
Keys to remote working correctly
First of all, we should do an analysis of our job title. That is, what we need to perform our tasks, both in terms of equipment, environmental conditions and personal demands. We have to bear in mind that far from being innocuous, remote working also has its risks.
This was explained by the World Labor Organization itself in a recent publication, especially for remote working that takes place full time:
Techno-stress: that derived from the abuse of new technologies, as well as addiction to technology. These aspects increase psychological fatigue, can lead to greater irritability and less ability to disconnect and, therefore, to benefit from adequate rest.
Consumption of alcohol and recreational drugs: Considering that they are more within our reach, the abuse of these can lead to negative emotional responses. In addition, they could deteriorate coexistence (increased arguments, increased emotional tension in coexistence, violence, etc.).
Prolonged sedentary lifestyle: Staying in the same position for long periods can lead to health problems. For example, eye strain, heart and musculoskeletal diseases, overweight and obesity. Unadapted furniture in our homes can aggravate the situation.
Prolonged isolation: Can trigger feelings of exclusion and exhaustion.
Using outdated technology: With speeds lower than those required today can lead to irritability and frustration.
Inadequate use of time: There is a risk of aggravating conflicts between work and private life. Also in the management of the limits between the time dedicated to work and personal affairs (including one’s own rest and disconnection from work). This is more evident in people with children or who live with people in need of support or supervision.
Recommendations for not losing your health while remote working
This should lead us to reflect on whether we are effectively disconnecting from our work. We also have to ask ourselves if it is affecting our health and personal life in any way. Once we have reflected, certain questions should be asked, both with our employers and with ourselves:
Establish clear work objectives: and adapt the schedule to achieve these objectives. In other words, making the working day more flexible to better adapt it to the reality of the worker.
Set breaks and permits to disconnect from work: at specific times or in response to the needs of the worker.
Limit availability to the established schedule: and, if applicable, clearly delimit the functions of each worker.
Take into account those workers with care responsibilities: which can lead to unforeseen events that can delay the completion of some assigned tasks.