“What happened, bro?”
“Ugh, the traffic on the way to work today was just terrible!”
“Oh yeah, it took me almost an hour to get here too”
Do you miss these conversations? Well, thanks to COVID-19 and the introduction of work-from-home practices, chit-chats such as these are now a rarity. In fact, most people these days even wish to go back to the office, despite all the traffic and the time that they spend on commute.
Why do employees wish to return to the office?
The reason is quite simple. Working from home brings with it several difficulties, one being a difficulty in “switching off” from “work-mode” and going into “relaxed-mode.”
And understandably so.
Heather Yurovsky, a career coach expert says that one cannot simply switch between giving a presentation and tidying up the house or cooking dinner which most work-from-home employees believe they can do but which can drastically affect their performance. This is much unlike the commuters headed for home after a long day get that transition time while in a vehicle and mentally prepare themselves for their evening routine.
But now? With work-from-home reigning supreme, that’s exactly what we’re doing. “The problem with this,” continues Yurovsky “is that your brain doesn’t have time to hit the reset button, which can make you less present as you transition back into your personal life.”
Not ‘switching off’ can be harmful to you
Research shows that up to 72% of workers were reportedly spending time worrying about their job after work, while 22% were reported to be regular worriers.
Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Surrey and the author of The Off Switch, Dr. Mark Croply, lists several extreme health risks that are associated with not switching off from work. He states in his book that those who can’t switch off –
►Produce more cortisol (the stress hormone)
►Have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease
►Develop unhealthy eating habits
►Have disrupted sleeping patterns and
►Have a greater risk for mental health problems (such as anxiety and depression)
Research also suggests that these risks are compounded for those who work from home, as they are known to take fewer breaks and work longer hours in general.
“The body needs time to relax and recharge,” Dr. Croply states.
Let the parasympathetic nervous system take over a little bit and all things go down to baseline.
Do the ‘Fake Commute’
Simulating the daily commute can be a great way to trick our brains into a work-life balance. But what exactly does faking a commute mean?
Well, this means getting up in the morning, getting dressed and heading out the door. Once you’ve shut the door behind you, go for a quick walk and come back. And repeat the same thing as you wind down for the day.
There exists prior research that concluded that the trip to the office can be a chance to think about upcoming work tasks, and can also serve as a transition period from our “home self” to our “work self.” This is especially necessary for a work from home situation, where many struggle to create boundaries between work and home responsibilities. As such, the ‘fake commute’ can replace the real commute for us in its role in creating these transitions for us, allowing us to prepare ourselves mentally for the upcoming workday.
David Zweig, Professor at the University of Toronto believes that a fake commute would be one of the most effective ways to build the walls between work and home again.
Carving out that time, whatever it might be — going for a walk, listening to some music — is going to be good for recovery and it’s also important for us to manage our stress from work.
What do you think of the fake commute in creating a work-life balance for yourself? Would you give it a go? Do let us know in the comments.
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