Working from home – the psychology of remote work

18th March 2020

Working from home is a new reality for many people. Many are trying to figure out how to make this work for them. And many are anxious about the time ahead. Here is our first stream of some psychological tips, to adapt to this change and your new way of working as best as possible:


Address anxieties and worries first and foremost

Many people are anxious and insecure now. We don’t know how this pandemic will pan out and how long it will last, what it will mean for businesses, people’s jobs, team’s communication, interaction etc. Uncertainty and anxiety are blocking our brains from thinking clearly and calmly, being creative in problem solving and open to these changes. 

  • LISTEN to what your people are concerned and worried about, as physiologically this first step will help to calm down the brain as much as possible. 
  • Now more than ever, transparency is key! If you don’t have answers to questions yet just say so and tell your team you’ll send updates as quickly as you have them. 
  • Anxiety releases a lot of adrenaline in the body as well. So, it helps to get this out of the body by becoming physically active e.g. a few jumping jacks, push ups singing out loud, and never forget to breathe deeply!


Communicate clearly

Clear communication is now even more important. What we could easily communicate over our desks or coffees, now needs to be online. Here are a few tick box questions to get clarity around:

    • Set a timeframe: everyone in your team should know when to be online and available
    • Set different communication mediums/channels for different content e.g. emails, texts, calls, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, Slack, GoogleHangouts etc.
    • Clarify expectations for employees roles and responsibilities: employees should know what is expected of them, even more so when working remotely . If moving the office to a virtual space changes anything in terms of responsibilities, different work tasks etc. this should be made clear for each team member.


Check-in with your people

Check-in regularly with your team members and colleagues and ask how they’re doing in the very first place.  This way you can find out what challenges they are facing, if they have all the tech support they need, and if they understand it well etc.

In times of self-isolation not only in the workplace but also in the private context humans can face the danger of feeling more lonely. This can lead to people becoming demotivated and hence less productive with their work. So, it’s crucial to think about how everyone can stay connected. This is why setting regular online meetings, especially in the beginning, will help with everyone feeling connected. 

Try to make these video calls, so our need for connection is better served and people also pay more attention as two senses are involved and not just the auditory one.

Some people might even like to just have a video call on with some team members while they work and have a more office-like feeling of just saying ‘Hi’ when they feel for it. We’re social beings and need to feel connected to one another.




Share your ideas

If you find good techniques to help cope with self-isolation, share them with your friends and colleagues! Whether that be methods to be productive, home workouts to keep you active or podcasts and games to keep you entertained – share these ideas with those around you so that we can all benefit. 


Keep a routine

Set regular working hours, and regular breaks in the day. Getting up at the same time for work and getting dressed can help you feel motivated and ready for the day and then get dressed into more comfortable clothes when the working day is over and it is time to unwind. Where possible try to have an area to work which is separate to where you relax – especially try to avoid working in bed as this can affect winding down and sleeping at night.  You could also set up an end-of-work-day ritual to mark the end of your working day.


Regular breaks 

As in a normal office environment, you’d need to have a break from time to time to refresh yourself and break up the day.  You can use this opportunity to get some exercise in, stretch, or cook a healthy lunch. Cue – don’t catch up on the news 😉


As business psychologists, we help you understand the ‘whys’ behind human behaviour. We work with you to adapt, grow and be ready in time of changes. We help you to make the uncertain (more) clear. We’re currently supporting employees and companies through organisational changes, please contact us at [email protected] if you want to discuss further.


Author: Innovationbubble