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A grey snowy forest in winter. The trees are bare.

How to (Continue to) Work from Home this Winter

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees and employers based in an office setting were met with uncertainty. How do we stay connected? How do we stay focused? How do we establish a new routine? Over the past few months, these questions have for the most part been answered. After an initial adjustment of setting up workspaces, navigating new home routines, and finding ways to stay connected, we are met with a new set of challenges as we move into a new season.

The winter months to come bring a new level of uncertainty and worry when working from home. As the days get shorter and the temperatures get lower, it can be tempting to slip into “hibernation mode” and lose focus on your work tasks (especially when your city is nicknamed Winterpeg). Finding ways to give yourself an extra boost of energy or motivation can go a long way in helping you work through the months to come.

Here are some tips to make working from home this winter as effective and enjoyable as possible:

1.    Get Outside

For many, getting outside in the winter cold may not be appealing but even in the winter, getting outdoors can have a multitude of benefits. These include getting a good dose of Vitamin D, increasing your energy, getting in some physical activity, and improving your mood. This article shares many benefits of getting outside in the winter, including the ways it can cure the dreaded “cabin fever”.

One of the best ways I have found is beginning the day with a “morning commute” outside, it will do wonders for getting yourself into the work headspace. Try taking a walk in the morning for the same time length as a commute to the office would have been. If you’re not a morning person, try an “evening commute” to exit the work headspace. Bookending your day with a “commute” helps separate work-from-home life from actual home life.

2.    Bring the Outside Indoors

With our number of daylight hours drastically reduced during the winter months, bringing concepts of the outdoors into your workspace can help liven things up. Open your workspace up to as much natural light as possible. If you are able, reconfigure your workspace near a window, and keep your blinds open during the day.

Houseplants can be a great addition to any home office. While most of the foliage outside has lost its colour, indoor greenery can do wonders for your mood. This study showed that simple interaction with a houseplant can reduce stress. There is also something deeply satisfying about caring for a plant and watching them grow. For those without green thumbs, artificial plants will add a pop of greenery to your workspace.

3.    Take Your Mental Wellness Seriously

If the first wave of working from home has taught us anything, its that mental wellness is of the utmost importance. As the days are getting longer and we are finding ourselves stuck inside more, taking care of your mental wellbeing is essential to working productively.

A good way to maintain your mental wellness is to set a boundary between work and home. At the end of the working day, unplug from your workspace and spend some time in a different area of your residence.

Similar to setting a boundary between work and home, reducing your screen time outside of working hours can greatly influence your mental health. As the cozy winter weather sets in, a good book and a cup of tea can go a long way.

If you are finding that you aren’t as productive at home as you were in the office, just cut yourself some slack. Working from home with the weight of COVID-19 news on your shoulders can be draining, accepting that you may not be as productive during this time is okay. Give yourself realistic expectations, understanding that we are navigating through unprecedented times.

4.    Stay Connected

At the beginning of the pandemic, we were forced to find new ways to stay connected with colleagues, clients, friends, and family. Taking a few minutes out of the day to reach out to a family member or friend can do wonders for both of your mental wellness. COVID-19 continues to be isolating, and as the freezing temperatures restrict us from having socially-distanced gatherings with friends in the park, staying connected throughout the winter months is more important than ever.

With colleagues, a team group chat is a great and easy way to ask quick questions or share memes. A simple “good morning” message to the team can set a positive tone for the rest of the day. A daily team video call to check with each on other and discuss progress on tasks is also a great way to achieve human contact and stay updated on current tasks.

Our clients are also working through the pandemic. Reaching out and offering support is a great way to maintain relationships and help out where needed.

Ultimately, its important to remember to take care of yourself, and each other. We really are in this together. 

Heather Webb
Project Manager | Environmental Planner at Narratives Inc.