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Remote Workers Need a Commute, Too
Despite all the frustrations of a daily work commute, there are actually benefits from commuting that a remote-based employee may be missing.
Miss the white knuckle driving with jerks cutting you off on your commute to/from work? Or perhaps the crowds of people pushing and cramming into your choice of mass transportation? The lack of rush-and-wait during the morning and evening commute may be one of the greatest benefits of remote working.
But there are advantages to commuting that improve your mental health, and those may be missing with a remote work assignment. What can be done to compensate that loss?
Create a Fake Commute to Establish a Boundary Between Work and Home
If you drive, ride, or walk to work, that time is a transition period to mentally set yourself up for the workday. Thoughts of home life and your role there naturally transform into work mode, preparing you to be your professional self. Then, on the return, your commute helps you decompress and provide closure to the end of your workday.
Without this boundary, you may have “role spillover” where you find yourself responding like a manager at home or like a parent at work. Neither is received well. You may also find yourself responding to after-hour emails long into the night, setting yourself up for burnout, loss of productivity, and a frustrated spouse.
Setting up a fake commute helps establish a necessary boundary between work and home. This provides much-needed mental rejuvenation and allows you time to clear your head, whether going to or returning from work.
What Is Involved in a Fake Commute?
Just like a traditional commute varies from person to person, your fake commute may be different from your coworker’s. The key is to provide yourself with a change of scenery or do something outside of your regular home routine. This may include:
- Taking a cellphone-free walk
- Doing warm-up stretches
- Catching up on personal emails
- Responding to texts you may not otherwise take time to do
- Reading a chapter from a book
- Planning your day
- Making calls
- Listening to an audio book
- Making a to-do list
- Checking in with family and friends
- Writing a journal entry
- Interacting meaningfully on social media by commenting and connecting (not just silently “liking” something or scrolling through your feed)
- Recording your thoughts
- Conducting a daily review and prioritizing your task list
- Watching a webinar or listening to a podcast
- Enjoying good music to help you be in a good mood
- Letting your mind wander and following your thoughts and ideas
- Self-reflecting to critically think about your own personal well-being
Establishing a routine where you prepare for and decompress from work will create a much-needed boundary between home life and work life. And successfully doing so while working remotely will make you miss those white-knuckle road jerks and large crowds of people even less.
Believe it or not, there are health benefits to commuting.