Some of us enjoy working virtually, while others prefer working in the workplace. Regardless of your preference, it’s important to recognize the unique challenges that virtual work brings. Some common challenges are maintaining personal and professional boundaries, work-life balance, screen fatigue and isolation. 

Maintain boundaries
Boundaries are important when working virtually, especially if working from home. Boundaries help us maintain work-life balance, establish a routine and can help prevent burnout. 

  • Establish what works for you, while also ensuring it supports you to do your job successfully.
  • Communicate your boundaries openly and continuously. 
  • If possible, create a dedicated workspace in your home that offers minimal distractions. Avoid the space where you sleep if possible.  
  • Turn off work email or phone notifications when your workday is finished. Understand the expectations of your employer and consider offering a backup contact if your role requires it. 
  • You can provide your team with a way to contact you in an emergency. 

Establish a routine
Once we’ve set our boundaries, we can create a routine more easily. Establishing a workday routine helps keep you energized and motivated.

  • Start your workday with stretching, journaling, meditation, a nutritional breakfast or whatever helps you begin the day refreshed and energized.
  • Each evening or morning, write out or review your daily to-do list. This helps you be prepared and organized. Some also like to do a higher-level weekly to-do list that includes personal and professional obligations.
  • Schedule breaks and meals in your calendar for both you and your colleagues to see.
  • Clean your work area when work is done so you aren’t staring at it while trying to relax.
  • Do something to mark the end of the workday – go for a walk, change your clothes, sit on the porch or balcony.      
  • Exercise to help improve your physical and mental health. 
  • Ensure you’re getting enough regular sleep.

Find motivation and energy
It can be hard to self-motivate, especially when there’s no one else around to help. If you’re having difficulty finding motivation, try some of the following tips:

  • Write to-do lists (daily, weekly, monthly).
  • Set 3 priorities each day and cross them off as you complete them – it can be so satisfying!
  • Set alarms to remind yourself to get up and move your body or drink a glass of water.
  • Set weekly goals and track your progress.
  • Find an accountability buddy to check in with – this also helps prevent isolation and maintain connection.
  • Stick to your total work hours. Some days will be busier than others but finding time to slow down when you can be important to sustaining yourself and your well-being. 
  • Try to flex your work to the times when you have the greatest focus.
  • Block time on your calendar for work that requires your full concentration. This allows those with access to your calendar to understand you’re not available for calls or emails. More importantly, it allows you to manage your time more effectively.

Manage video meeting stress
Screen fatigue can be a real stressor. It’s exhausting to be constantly in video calls. Sometimes, we can’t avoid video meetings, but we can minimize stressors. When we need to be on video, it may be helpful to consider what makes you feel most comfortable, such as:

  • Integrate more phone calls into your day to cut back on-screen time. 
    • This allows more flexibility in terms of walking and talking, which can help reduce video fatigue and eliminate video anxiety. 
  • Where possible schedule breaks between video meetings. If you cannot, consider turning off your camera and microphone to take a stretch for a minute or two while you listen.
  • Keep virtual meetings to one hour or less when you can. If something will take longer, you may want to include a 5-minute break or have more one-hour meetings spaced apart.
  • Have water to drink.
  • Have an app or a pen and paper to take quick notes.
  • Use a virtual background so you don’t have to worry about who or what comes into view.
  • Use headphones to help drown out unavoidable background noises. 
  • Keep your temperature comfortable. 

Seek collaboration opportunities
Virtual work can sometimes feel isolating, especially when we’re used to being in a workplace surrounded by people. Creating virtual spaces to collaborate and communicate – even informally – can help to prevent feelings of isolation. 

  • If you miss having a coffee break with your colleagues, consider jumping on a short call while you go for a walk or enjoy your break time. 
  • Schedule weekly or monthly calls with colleagues outside of work hours just to catch up on a personal basis.
  • If you miss bouncing ideas off others in the office while working on a project, try creating an online discussion board or hosting a mind-mapping session with your colleagues. Finding different ways to maintain engagement and encourage collaboration is positive for everyone. Switching up your usual focuses to collaborate with others can spark creativity and motivation.