We’re creatures of habit! The changes that disrupted our routines and made remote work, hybrid work, and contract, freelance and project-based work the new standard can be difficult if you aren’t used to the added freedom and accountability. What we imagined was some future-work utopia is now here with us, and many employees are grappling to remain sane and productive.
Unless there’s a strategic plan, remote workers can quickly become less productive or deal with burnout as they juggle between multitasking, handling distractions, and making space for work. This article discusses effective practices you can embrace to avoid feeling under-accomplished or overwhelmed and to remain balanced, productive, and sane.
Read More: 6 Signs That the Future of Work is Here
Technical, societal, and cultural changes are slowly but surely eating into the relevance and future of the standard 9-to-5 workday, almost rendering it obsolete. Remote working, freelancing, and self-employment are becoming the new normal as the rapid shift towards contract and project-based work gathers steam.
A McKinsey report  showing that 9 out of 10 companies were embracing the hybrid work model is the most unmistakable evidence of a significant shift in the workplace.
Unknown to most people, a 16-hour workday looked normal during the Industrial Revolution until a Welsh social reformer, Richard Owen, began campaigning for an 8-hour working day. He argued that the 24 hours available daily should be divided equally between work, rest, and leisure, which finally gave birth to the 9-to-5 workday, 40 hours a week with a few short breaks in between.
Gallup showed in a 2021 poll that at least 45% of employees were working remotely at least part-time,  partly fueled by the COVID-19 disruption. Many employers are rethinking the “rigid” 9-to-5 workday and gravitating towards a more flexible work situation.
As future workplace trends continue, employers expect their employees, some of whom are working for more than one employer, to be available, even though most don’t provide a work-life balance.
When businesses still need to satisfy the demands of consumers who expect instant answers to their queries and other desires, some businesses end up exerting undue pressure on their employees to increase their hours of availability. Some employees, fearing for their job security and advancement opportunities, become willing to comply, forcing them to go the extra mile to stay ahead, often at the risk of burning out.
As companies create new policies and restructure themselves to better fit the future of work, it presents you with different “employment” options. Increasingly, workers are opting to choose more than one job or gig to fit their needs. Here are some work arrangements to consider:
While this is one of the most common arrangements, climbing the ranks can be an uphill task when you’re working offsite and other employees are in the office. Staying “out of your employer’s mind” can easily create proximity bias regarding career advancement or securing a coveted position. If you’re a remote or hybrid worker, you must stay proactive to avoid stalling your professional development.
Companies that were founded or have become 100% remote present a great way to create your own work-life balance while still maintaining the job security of working for a single employer. Make sure to find out if your team prescribes synchronized or async work and what the expectations on your time are. Implementing remote work has proven a powerful strategy for businesses of all sizes.
A major increase in the future of work is teams that are assembled for a specific project. This type of contract work allows you the flexibility to take jobs that interest you and the freedom to work with different companies when new opportunities present themselves. Keep in mind the additional stress and responsibilities that come with choosing gig work over traditional employment.
Modern technology has made working remotely easier for countless people globally, and it’s estimated that remote workers could equal or surpass the number of fixed-location workers soon. Nonetheless, remote work is more than working in sweatpants and jammies.
Trying to remain productive can be a real struggle where distractions abound, and there’s no boss breathing fire over your shoulders. Stalling along the way or failing to meet deadlines can quickly turn the remote-work dream into a nightmare beyond 5 pm. The following tips can help any remote worker remain sane while being productive.
Most people working remotely struggle with separating their personal and work lives and end up working from everywhere all the time. Create and follow a task list detailing everything you need to accomplish, and use available mobile and desktop apps to synchronize your activities.
Adhere to a fixed work schedule, let your family members get used to your work program, and make all plans around it. If you’re working from home, designate a specific office space and don’t use it for eating, playing games, watching videos, or even sleeping.
Ensure that you or your employers equip your office space with all the right tools and devices in perfect working conditions to avoid equipment-related problems. Avoid less powerful, cheaper devices, whether it’s your computer, internet access, webcam, or smartphone. Remember that the performance per dollar for high-quality equipment is higher when you invest appropriately.
Open communication channels will help you remain productive since you’ll be connected with your entire team and can quickly attend virtual team events. Use modern collaboration tools such as Skype, Slack, a VoIP system, Google Workspace, Zoom, or Asana to avoid missing out on valuable opportunities to provide feedback.
Social media networks are among the greatest time thieves for remote workers. Discipline yourself to turn off all notifications or avoid logging into social media sites during working hours. You could also install a different browser on your work computer dedicated to working. Consider installing a time tracker that generates reports to monitor everything you do and keep you on the right track.
Regardless of how busy your schedule may be, take healthy breaks occasionally to stimulate your mind. This can be simple: a 10-minute walk around the block, a few push-ups, a yoga session, or some meditation. Remember that your mental and physical health is the most significant determinant of your productivity, and health breaks are the solution.
As the future of work, remote work has challenges, including how to stay sane and productive. Thankfully, it has many benefits that you need to remember if you want to enjoy it. Create a working schedule, remain connected to friends, family, and colleagues, and work from anywhere, anytime will become enjoyable.
1. Alexander, A., Cracknell, R., De Smet, A., Langstaff, M., Mysore, M. and Ravid, D. (2021). What executives are saying about the future of hybrid work | McKinsey. [online] www.mckinsey.com. Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/what-executives-are-saying-about-the-future-of-hybrid-work.
2. Saad, L. and Wigert, B. (2021). Remote Work Persisting and Trending Permanent. [online] Gallup.com. Available at: https://news.gallup.com/poll/355907/remote-work-persisting-trending-permanent.aspx.