No doubt over the last year you've realized the WFH truth that you are not an eagle-eyed drone sailing above and through all aspects of your day enjoying the larger picture while still zeroing in on the smaller details. Like everyone else, you have limitations, but that doesn't mean you can't push them for your own personal benefit as well as that of your company’s bottom line; however, the necessity of refreshing your body and mind in order to function is the overarching non-negotiable truth around which this article is organized. What follows are seven physical and seven mental WFH truths you can't negotiate.
Seven Physical WFH Truths
Truth 1: Easy to take for granted even if you're in the ergonomic habit of aligning them parallel to your desk, keyboard, and mouse, take time to flash your fingers and wiggle your wrists in a friendly wave to colleagues during an on-camera meeting. In addition, take a few minutes to shoot the breeze, and let your hands do some of the talking with gestures.
Truth 2: Your eyes and ears are able to usher in helpful images and sounds to you all the time, not just when your alarm wakes you. Throughout the day, routinely engage in moments of visual relief by focusing on most anything except a glowing screen—think intriguing wall calendars with photos of tropical waves and colorful flora. Charge your air space with the energy of uplifting nature sounds by opening your windows to the wind and birds, or by playing your favorite digital version via speakers or ear buds.
Truth 3: Your tongue buds work in tandem with your nose and not much can as easily invigorate the mind quite like these two senses. Indulge them by applying a natural balm to your lips, the scent of which is capable of transporting you to a heady place where you inhale, exhale, and excel and the taste of which can help you tease out time between your snacks and sips. This is particularly beneficial if your snacks and sips are less healthy than they are high in calories.
Truth 4: You can't be surprised to learn that attentiveness to your seat (dare I say derrière?) can yield happy results. Whether from a top-rated office chair, wobble stool or stationary bicycle, give your seat the consideration it deserves by setting it on something comfortable and also by getting off of it from time to time.
Truth 5: Routinely moving your lower limbs protects your heart health and physical flexibility, which not moving can compromise. Get up and get going every hour to circulate blood throughout your body. Building in some extra steps and flexes, complete a household chore, visit the powder room, or take a short walk down the street. Dancing during all of the previously mentioned is an option!
Truth 6: Your feet support your every stance, so return the favor, preferably by resting them flat on the floor when you’re sitting. If you choose to stand on them sometimes when working, be sure to outfit them with comfortable shoes, and whether you are sitting or standing, respect the ergonomics of your upper body and eyes by not hunching your shoulders and by focusing your eyes two to three inches from the top of your monitor screen casing. More such tips here.
Truth 7: The lovely set of curves that comprise your backbone are built for motion. Agility ability like this should be fawned over, flexed, and stretched in celebration. Reach up and out, curl down and in to encourage a lively spine! If it's not time yet for you to get up and moving, at least enjoy a seated yoga minute with yoga instructor Chuck Burmeister.
Seven Mental WFH Truths
Truth 1: Like the spine, the mind welcomes a bit of bending. Whatever offers a view beyond your current perspective should be a part of your WFH day. Carve out a few minutes to watch an inspirational video, listen to a poem or podcast, or peer through a virtual kaleidoscope. Make a point to wander into a state of wonder and flex your mental muscles too.
Truth 2: Mindlessness is the necessary state of human beings taking time to simply exist. Pause from doing to just be—go to a window or outdoors to soak up a little shade or sunshine. Take a cue from your pet and just sprawl out for several minutes. Empty your mind by focusing on your breathing. Imagine your head is a balloon that expands with each inhale and relaxes with every exhale. Aim to inhale and exhale for the same amount of time. Go ahead and count the length of each inhale and exhale if it helps you to relax. You will return to work invigorated.
Truth 3: Even if your free spirit doesn't want to admit it, reminders inherently exist within routine and organization. Whether deliberately or subconsciously set, patterns in your WFH day exist. Creating a schedule that lists both your home and work tasks allows you to compartmentalize each set of responsibilities while seeing how they fit together. Having the schedule handy allows you navigate your roles, and consistently applying best practices to your tasks helps you achieve them.
Truth 4: Helping to keep you sharp, in the moment, and focused on the task at hand, the practice of mindfulness is as important as that of mindlessness. If you haven't created a schedule to help you organize your work breaks, regularly weigh in with your mind to determine if you feel one is due. Sometimes when the go is flowing, being swept up and along feels like you’re flying; however, pausing routinely to check your pulse, thermostat, or rearview mirror has tremendous value. It can put a stop to any freewheeling recklessness that could hurt you or your team.
Truth 5: Minding your manners when interacting with your team members can make or break work projects. Although people you encounter each day aren't physically present in your home, each one is real and really deserves your kindness over your candor. Communication challenges abound, and so should your patience with the people you’re fortunate to interact with in some capacity during your WFH experience. Choosing to be gracious to someone today ensures what can be accomplished together tomorrow.
Truth 6: The hivemind—you may have taken it for granted or even resisted it when you worked in the physical office, but WFH demands you commune with your teammates regularly. Routinely checking in with your organization benefits everyone since it’s the people pathways of your organization that represent its pulse. Engaging with colleagues maintains the pressure needed for everyone to enjoy workflow success. In or out of the physical office, each person in the organization is an important part of the business. You are valuable, so use tools such as Microsoft Teams Chat to make sure your voice is abuzz in the hive.
Truth 7: You’ve heard it’s better to seek forgiveness than to ask for permission, but sometimes as you WFH, you're tempted to ask your boss, “Do you mind if I . . .?” In uncertain times, exercising more caution and looking often to your leader’s example makes sense, but keep in mind that your organization is still relying on you to move business forward at a productive pace. Do your homework, but also trust your gut and act with confidence as you have in the past.
Like many other people in the world today, you may be working mostly digitally, but you yourself are not digital. Your body and mind require more than a simple electric charge to remain energized and productive. Avoid burn out and manage stress by being mindful of these WFH truths and exercising them for the benefit of yourself, your colleagues, and your company.