12. May 2021 By Frank Seifert
‘There’s land on the horizon’ – digital well-being while working from home
But first things first, let’s clear something up: what on Earth does working from home have to do with a submarine?
Much like spending your days in a submarine, working from home also means spending your days in an environment that is always the same: where you work, where you relax, where you eat and where you sleep – everything often happens within the same four walls, and for someone who spends most of their time in this environment, it can certainly feel a little cramped and monotonous. Even getting in touch with colleagues and the outside world is a largely virtual activity at the moment, with a wide range of video call platforms and smartphones replacing face-to-face meetings. I’m starting to suffer from a bit of ‘Zoom fatigue’ myself, and I have the impression that a lot of people around me feel the same way. That’s why it’s even more of a relief when you can ‘see land on the horizon again’ when you take a break or at the end of the working day, by which I mean something happens that breaks the monotony of your daily work routine and allows you to ‘emerge’ from your submarine.
And how does ‘digital well-being’ relate to this?
Unlike in the office, all communication with colleagues when working from home is digital. Spontaneous and valuable encounters, such as having a chat by the coffee machine or in the hallway, have long since stopped being a part of the day. That’s why it’s even more important when working from home that we consciously take a break from any screens in our free time, be it laptops, desktop screens, TVs or smartphones. This break is very important for our well-being.
Ok, let’s be honest, this is nothing new to us and yet we usually find it hard to do without. So the questions are: what can we do to make working from home healthy for us? And how do we (finally) reduce our screen time and make the best use of all the time we suddenly have as a result?
Submariner Jon Bailey recommends:
Maintaining a healthy diet
‘Take your time’ is the name of the game when it comes to cooking fresh, balanced meals using regional produce. It might even help if you plan your meals. However, it’s especially important to have a light lunch – otherwise you run the risk of exacerbating the afternoon slump.
The former submariner preaches 20 to 30 minutes of exercise per day as a minimum. If you don’t want to or are unable to do this outdoors, you can make the most of the many free resources available online. Take YouTube, for example, where you’ll find countless channels dedicated to helping people exercise at home. For example, these two:
- The ‘FitnessBlender’ channel has a whole host of workout videos and recipe ideas, as well as challenges such as the ‘Free 5 Day Workout Challenge for Busy People’ – so no excuses.
- ‘Yoga meets Crossfit’: Mady Morrison mainly provides yoga routines for people of all abilities, no matter how much experience they have, as well as guided meditations and HIIT workouts.
I personally also like the ‘Home Workout – No Equipment’ app.
Keeping in touch
On submarines, there used to be radio silence for days. The weekly telegram from relatives was the highlight of everyday life under the sea. That’s why it’s worth using every avenue open to you to keep in touch with your friends and loved ones – your well-being will thank you. And if we’re trying to reduce our screen time, maybe it’s time the handwritten letter made a comeback?
Once you’ve signed off for the day, that’s it. The best thing to do is to take your mind off work and focus on what you’re going to do with your free time. It also helps if you make the concerted effort to pack up your work things in the evenings and at weekends.
Having a positive mindset
Lockdown will end eventually. This makes it all the more important to not let a sense of crisis get to you and to keeping looking forward. It will help you to make plans for the future and to focus on the little things that bring joy in everyday life.
Tips and tricks from our adesso employees – aka ‘adessi’
I recently had the idea to spontaneously include a section called ‘Digital well-being while working from home’ in an internal adesso meeting. The people in the digital meeting went into break-out groups and shared their dos and don’ts for working from home in a relaxed, informal conversation. My colleagues really liked the format, and we collected a lot of interesting ideas. I’d like to share the ‘best of’ those ideas here:
Ready, get set, move
Get up and move – right now. Not only is this a great way to change up your routine before or after work, but it’s also perfect for adding some variety to your working day, too. Being in the privacy of your own home is also a bonus here, as you can stretch and move without being on the receiving end of astonished looks from your colleagues. If you’re feeling brave, you can also put on your favourite song and dance to the beat. Movement changes the energy in a room. Are you curious what kind of music my colleagues are playing? Here’s our Spotify playlist with a selection of our favourite dance songs. We guarantee you’ll be humming them for days! I’ve got ‘We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine...’ stuck in my head at the moment...
Make something tasty while working from home
For many, spending more time at home means spending more time in the kitchen. This is encouraging a lot of people to be more experimental and try new things when cooking and/or baking. Sourdough or banana bread recipes are all the rage online. It’s clearly a good – and screen-free – change from your daily work routine. And if the weather is nice, you can make the most of it by taking a walk or going on a bike ride to deliver the goodies to friends, family members or other adessi.
Breathe in, breathe out
Air your home regularly and, weather permitting, make sure you spend your lunch break and evening outdoors in the fresh air. This not only ensures you get enough vitamin D, but also provides a change of scenery.
Balance in everyday life
It’s worth making a conscious effort to ‘emerge’ and break out from your office routine on a regular basis and establish this as a routine so you don’t forget to take these breaks. Working from home makes it especially easy to eat lunch at your desk and answer a few e-mails in between bites. These – ideally screen-free – breaks are very important to balance out the period of concentrated work.
But watch out, a routine that is too rigid can also have the opposite effect and even increase the feeling of being trapped in a submarine. The trick is to keep challenging yourself. It might help to ask yourself, ‘When was the last time I did something for the first time’. If you’re struggling to think of an answer, then it’s best to change that right away and venture to do something new. Here are some inspiring examples from the adesso universe: having a cold shower for a change, talking to a family member or a friend (who gets up early) on the phone before the workday starts, taking a morning walk to your favourite bakery or enjoying lunch at a new place in the neighbourhood – without your smartphone and far away from your computer, of course.
Variety and a view outside
If you can, move your computer setup to a different place in your home from time to time. The other day, a colleague who had just started at adesso told me that she had also looked for a new spot to work in at home when she changed jobs – so that she could feel like things had changed in that respect, too. In general, working somewhere that offers a view of nature and greenery behind the screen are incredibly popular. This is particularly important for your eyes, as it gives you something else to look at and take the strain off them.
Scents for the brain
Have you ever heard of aromatherapy? Inhaling essential oils can have a beneficial effect. There are even scents that have a concentration-enhancing effect, while others can be used to ring in the end of the day and create a feeling of either energy or relaxation. Some people find it beneficial to lightly spray their pillow with an essential oil, for example lavender or orange blossom – both scents that relax and harmonise. It’s especially important to avoid screen time as much as possible in the evening in particular, as blue light is responsible for lowering the melatonin level responsible for sleep.
Here are my colleagues’ favourite scents:
- Lemongrass helps with overload and stress, and it boosts concentration and creativity
- Peppermint helps with tiredness and provides energy, freshness and clear thoughts
- Rosemary helps with weakness, listlessness and boosts strength and concentration
- Rose geranium helps with nervous tension and provides balance and patience
Have too many snacks
Sweets don’t belong on your desk. Fruits and nuts are better snack options as they provide the energy boost you need during the day and they’re also healthy. Energy bites are ideal. Here is a recipe for a date-cocoa-almond version that is very popular with my colleagues right now. Sweets can be deliberately used as a reward after you’ve achieved a goal. And of course, you’re allowed to treat yourself once in a while – chocolate puts a smile on people’s faces, after all. Cocoa contains the amino acid tryptophan, which the body converts into the happiness hormone serotonin.
Screen time during breaks and at the end of the day
As tempting as it is to check your smartphone every time you take a break from work, you should put it away to improve your ‘digital well-being’. In the evenings, it’s advisable to avoid screens altogether and read a book, play a board game or try out one of the dos I mentioned earlier instead.
I hope you find the tips as helpful as I did. It was definitely a welcome change during the meeting and very inspiring to hear the results from the different groups. It’s also somehow reassuring that you’re not alone in the submarine. Some colleagues have even told me that the tips have become a fixed part in their working from home routine, which makes me all the more pleased. I now hope, of course, that as many people as possible out there can benefit from them and improve their personal digital well-being while working from home, at least a little bit.
And don’t forget, the phrase ‘working from home’ means you have two important basics in life: a home and a job – which isn’t a given for a large number of people at the moment.
Would you like to learn more about exciting topics from the world of adesso? Then check out our latest blog posts.