Tips to help you manage work-from-home stress

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

The year 2020 will go down in history as the year when the political leaders implemented national lockdowns in their countries to curb the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. These lockdowns brought about sudden career changes for many, forcing many to work-from-home. You may currently experience this change to a work-from-home career due to the coronavirus COVID-19 restrictions.

The concept of a work-from-home career sounds so convenient. No peak hour traffic jams, no traffic pollution, and no rush to get to the office.

You may feel that your career change is a merger of your career and private life in the comfort of your home. You may feel a bit overwhelmed with all these changes.

We have interviewed Shane Murray, a Digital Transformation and Change Specialist based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and gathered valuable tips regarding a career change to a work-from-home career.

Possible work-from-home challenges

  • No dedicated workspace

  • Increased cleaning requirements

  • No defined working hours

  • Impact due to unanticipated constructions

  • Impact due to unanticipated outages

  • No time to exercise

  • Increased feeling of isolation

No dedicated workspace.

A work-from-home career requires a dedicated workspace. Your new job requires a dedicated desk, a chair with lumbar support, a printer, a filing cabinet to store confidential documents, and stationery to help you conduct your eight-hour or nine-hour workday.

Increased cleaning requirements. A work-from-home career comes with an element of office cleaning. You may notice that your home requires more regular cleaning. Your extra eight hours at home will increase the cleaning requirements.

No defined working hours.

This photo depicts how professionals who work-from-home may work until the early hours of the morning.
Photo: Courtesy of Sharad Kachhi.

Many professionals who start their work-from-home careers are tempted to work until the early hours of the morning to meet aggressive deadlines. It is so easy to fall into this trap.

"I suddenly found myself busy with work-related emails until the early hours of the morning. I just had to answer one last email. I then realized that I needed boundaries.” Shane Murray

Impact due to unanticipated constructions.

Nothing can be more frustrating than an unannounced construction noise while you are in the middle of an important client meeting. You may feel that construction projects in your neighborhood pop-up like mushrooms every single day. Suddenly your neighbor announced a renovation project with no suggestions to assist you.

Impact due to unanticipated outages.

Electricity, water, internet, and all other utility outages may severely hamper your workday. One can easily manage an electricity outage with the help of a laptop battery. An internet connectivity outage poses a challenge to manage. These outages may, at the worst of time, start while you are in the middle of an important meeting and last for hours.

Increased feeling of isolation.

A work-from-home career may lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Photo: Courtesy of Cottonbro.

Employees routinely exchange new ideas at the water filter in the office. It is much easier to walk down the passage or pop your head into an office to greet your colleagues. A work-from-home career may not offer the same level of convenience to exchange new ideas personally around the water filter. It may, in contrast, increase a feeling of isolation and loneliness.

No time to exercise.

It is so easy to stop your daily exercise routine and to spend your time to adjust to your new career.

“My regular exercise routine came to an end when I started my work-from-home career. It was not easy to start my exercise routine again”, Shane Murray

Tips to help you manage work-from-home stress.

Even though a work-from-home career promotes convenience, it requires changes to your way of working to ensure a smooth transition. A full workday at home requires sufficient support, comfort, and discipline to help you succeed in your career. It also carries an element of an office environment, office cleaning, and office management to help you complete a full day, be that eight or nine hours at home.

  1. Plan your day.

  2. Set up your home office.

  3. Manage your working environment.

  4. Implement a regular cleaning routine.

  5. Control your working hours.

  6. Develop your disaster recovery plan.

  7. Increase your communications with colleagues and all stakeholders.

  8. Maintain a balanced diet.

  9. Start an exercise routine.

  10. Go total disconnection.

1. Plan your day.

Planning your workday is a requirement to help you manage your time better. Prepare your daily to-do list with all the activities that you need to complete for the day. Check your progress during the day against your to-do list. Mark all activities that you have completed. Re-plan all activities that you still need to complete for the following workday.

2. Set up your home office.

Creating your working environment will equip you with the needed resources to perform our job. Convert an extra room or a corner in your home as your office.

Put up your chair, desk, storage shelves, printer, lights, internet equipment, and security devices in your office. If you use a corner, install a corner curtain to use as a temporary office door.

Creating a home office environment is vital for a work-from-home career-
Photo: Courtesy of Oladimeji Ajegbile
“It is imperative to set up your home office. My fully functional home office contributed tremendously to my career success. The convenience to print, scan, laminate, and produce training material in your home office is invaluable.” Murray.

3. Manage your working environment.

Succeeding with a work-from-home career requires an extra hour per day to arrange and manage the logistics of working from home. Since you are now responsible for your equipment, make sure you maintain your infrastructure regularly. Test your internet connectivity and all required online applications regularly.

4. Implement a regular cleaning service.

Implementing a regular cleaning service at home will ensure that your home provides a safe and attractive living and working environment for you and your family. Take five minutes to tidy your working space at the end of each day and maintain a clean-desk-policy. Place all dirty cups, crockery, and cutlery in your dishwasher.

For an easy guide to help you keep your floors cleaner for longer, see our blog:

“Tips to keep your floors cleaner for longer”

5. Control your working hours.

Controlling your working hours will help you maintain a healthy work-life balance. Share your office schedule with your clients, colleagues, friends, and family members. Publish your working hours on your website and relevant social media pages. Lock your office door at the end of your workday to reaffirm your office hours. Alternatively, close the curtain daily as your final-curtain-call. Leave all work-related messages and calls that arrive at the end of your workday, for the following business day.

“Locking my office door every day is a good way to ensure I do not return to work emails at night.” Murray.

6. Develop and implement your disaster recovery plan.

Developing and implementing your disaster recovery plan is a sure way to help you cope with unanticipated events. Identify suitable locations that you can work from when these unplanned events happen. Consider workspaces in other neighborhoods or mobile workspaces as alternative workspaces in your disaster recovery plan. Make sure to include automated out-of-office messages to notify interested parties that you are still available for assistance.

7. Increase your communications with your colleagues and all stakeholders.

Maintaining video contact with clients, colleagues, and stakeholders will limit the feeling of isolation. Start with daily check-in sessions with your colleagues to share status updates. Distribute notes to your colleagues to keep them informed of progress and to prepare for the next day. Continue to celebrate all special moments and achievements with your colleagues. Continue to use online gatherings to promote networking activities.

8. Maintain a balanced diet.

Maintaining a balanced diet all year round is vital for good health.

Include foods from all the primary food groups in your meals. Start your day with a hearty breakfast. Prepare your daily meals in the morning and store them in your refrigerator. Consume your meals during your workday to keep your energy levels high. Maintain your water intake during the day to keep you hydrated.

9. Start an exercise routine.

Maintaining a regular exercise routine is an excellent way to keep your body fit and healthy.

Start with an easy 30-minute brisk walk as your initial exercise.

Start an exercises routine to help you cope with work-from-home stress.
Photo: Courtesy of Andrea Placquadio

Set aside 30 minutes in your busy day to enjoy your exercise activity.

“I enjoy my exercise routine now more than ever. I can honestly say that my exercise activity is my stress reliever.” Murray.

10. Go total disconnection.

Implementing total disconnection from everyday social media is a smart way to revitalize your emotional peace and tranquility. Pick one of the seven days of the week to disconnect from social media. Do not engage with your smartphone, laptop, computer, and televisions for an uninterrupted 24-hours. Spend quality time with family. Read books, play board games with your children, and enjoy all activities that will help you restore your peace and tranquility.

We encourage you to follow these easy steps to help you manage work-from-home stress.


We thank Shane Murray for his contribution. Shane lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with his wife and two children.

Erika Gordon is with Shine Professional Services.

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