During the last recession, I was in the middle of a three-year study of how people were working differently with the release of new mobile technology. At the time, working from home was being sold as the solution to all manner of ills: women’s participation in the workforce, increased work-life balance, improved well-being without the drain of commuting, and more. Although the majority of those working from home today aren’t doing so by choice, the takeaways from my research carry just as much relevance—if not more—for our present circumstances.
As many of us enter an indefinite and prolonged experience of working from home, the deeper, underlying factors shaping our fundamental relationship with jobs and devices are now coming into focus.
Technology advancements over the last two decades have created new expectations for productivity, leading to increased anxiety among the 9-to-5 workforce that they should always be “on.” Modern employees feel responsible to self-manage while they’re reminded that productivity is the default measure of accomplishment—and you can imagine how things might spiral when you add economic uncertainties to the mix.
Successfully navigating remote work for the long run requires a starkly different approach than the occasional work-from-home days of yesterday. Here are a few guidelines to help you get through it with your health and sanity.