Flexible working arrangements seem here to stay, as people return to the office part-time, or under a hybrid work arrangement.
But beware, the new normal work protocols could be more exhausting, if not stressful for some employees than initially anticipated. Consider: not only do you have to go back to the tiresome commute, or long drive, one also has to grapple with a “nomadic” approach to working, that is, rotating between two or more workplaces on a regular basis.
Begone stress, my name is order
A flexible work arrangement can be fun and encourage better work-life balance, but it has its own drawbacks. These can lead to stress if not managed well.
Although being tethered to a fixed workplace may seem boring, it does give our days and weeks a sense of order and as such, helps with efficiency. In a work-from-anywhere situation, office employees need to create this sense of order no matter where the day’s workplace happens to be. This way he or she can take on the day’s workload amid haphazard distractions.
Don’t leave your handy, dandy carry bag
Making the work-from-anywhere lifestyle work for you begins with a super organized carry bag. No matter where you happen to be working for the day – be it at the office, the café, the client’s office, and yes, even from home – having with you the same carry bag (or backpack) could help you feel more anchored on getting down to business.
It’s your call whether to carry a separate laptop case, or get a bag that has a special compartment for laptops. It has to be big enough to fit in all your daily work essentials and personal effects. But it also has to be designed in such a way that all your stuff are assigned in their fixed pockets. It is essentially your portable workstation so you need to keep it organized, ready for whatever office tasks you may need to accomplish anywhere.
Working with the same tools, like a laptop and other personal gadgets helps in establishing your “territory” where you can get in “the zone” at will. This is especially true when you must work elsewhere. Most office workers who eventually get the hang of nomadic work, need only their mobile phones, laptop, hard drives, noise-cancelling headphones, tablet, camera gear, and notebooks. Depending on your deliverables and personal quirks, you can add or subtract from this basic list until you find your mobile productivity sweet spot. Just make sure to not carry to much weight, or too many gadgets.
Anticipate stress, relax on-the-go
The idea of being able to work from anywhere naturally conjures mental images of flexibility, variety, and fun – that’s why we often overlook the possibility that it can also be stressful. But it can and does become stressful as your main goal is to get things done, often under strict deadlines. For instance, nothing could be more stressful than being a few hours away from a deadline and the home Wi-Fi suddenly acts up, or the coffee shop you’re in suddenly gets too crowded, or loud.
Here are a few tips from seasoned work nomads for calming down, managing stress, detaching from your surroundings, and getting back into the zone:
- Take a break and fire up your fave playlist – Bring out your noise-cancelling headphones and drown the world’s noise in your personal anthem or a tune you find relaxing. When getting distracted by external stimuli, it’s often a signal that we need to recharge our batteries a bit and the best way to do that is to indulge in a little mental vacation or do something else. A few minutes tour down your favorite playlist may just do the trick and get your creative juices flowing again.
- Play a little mobile game – For some people, getting distracted with a different activity is the quickest way to unwind and recharge their brain cells. Creatives particularly find strategic or puzzle games more effective, while executive types find more imaginative or whimsical games as better distractions. The idea is to take your mind as far away as possible from what you’re currently doing. Thus, if you’re stressing over a report you’re writing, solving a word puzzle won’t get you relaxed but playing Mobile Legends or even Chess might.
- A quick puff on the e-cig – For smokers at least, or those trying to shift from harmful cigarettes, or those trying to quit altogether, a quick puff or two on the e-cigarette could be all that’s needed to relieve stress and get back a sense of focus. Aside from instant feeling of relaxation, some e-cig smokers also say they often get some of their most creative ideas while vaping. With a handy and discreet looking e-cig on their carry bag, smokers can readily enjoy their fix when needed, without wasting time looking for a smoking area, then buckle down again to work feeling refreshed.
- Deep breathing exercises for anxiety relief – When we feel anxious, we tend to take rapid, shallow breaths that come directly from the chest. Instead, take deep, slow breaths, and release them slower in an unhurried, gentle rhythm. This stimulates a calming response, almost instantly. Some say this is the way newborn babies naturally breathe. Bottomline, deep breathing can help induce a sense of clarity that could help you address the urgent task at hand.