How to Deal with Stress in the Workplace

Stress has become a constant in our lifetime. Nevertheless, it’s not always a negative feeling; it has many positives, including keeping us alive! We have to manage our stress and look for tools to help us keep it to a healthy level, avoiding its harmful effects on our creativity, efficiency and productivity.

The word stress over densely written pages

Photo credit: PlusLexia - CC BY 2.0

As we recognise Mental Health Awareness Week, it’s essential to shed light on the importance of prioritising mental wellbeing. Whether you’re a seasoned remote worker or new to the virtual office environment, here are some effective strategies for dealing with stress in the remote IT workplace.

Establish a Structured Routine

One of the biggest challenges of remote work is maintaining a healthy work-life balance. A daily routine can create boundaries between work and personal life, reducing stress levels. Try to start your day at a consistent time, and allocate specific blocks for your tasks. Remember to take breaks, invest in some leisure activities, and try to stick to a regular end-of-day ritual.

Routine helps us create a sense of control, which will invariably help in reducing stress levels. So, not letting work creep into your free time is essential. I’ll refrain from talking about early or late work as we recognise that some of us are most productive outside the conventional business hours, so as long as you are safeguarding your time for all the wonderful things you do outside your work, consider the goal achieved.

Create a Dedicated Workspace

For those working in remote or hybrid roles, creating a dedicated workspace is a very good way of reducing stress. It creates a physical boundary between work and relaxation, with the added benefit that you literally ‘shut work away’ once you are done.

It may sound too simplistic, but in reality, this boundary significantly impacts how we feel about work and being away from it! Another nice tip is to ensure you personalise your space and make it your own. Ergonomic furniture, plants, and meaningful decorations can enhance comfort and productivity. I have a trusted wireless speaker around for those times I need to use some music therapy to help me get in the zone.

Practice Effective Time Management

Whether remote, hybrid, or on-site, juggling multiple projects and deadlines is commonplace. So, managing your time effectively not only helps ensure you are getting things done to your deadlines but also helps manage how you feel about work.

You heard it before: feeling stressed while juggling a heavy workload is similar to having the weight of the world on your shoulders. So, finding a technique to help is essential for preventing burnout.

There are many time management techniques out there. Finding one that is suitable for you is the key to success here. Firstly, we need to recognise our individuality, as some of us are very productive on a long sprint, and some others need time blocking. So try out different techniques and see what works best for you. You will eventually find one that helps you maintain focus.

Another tip is to break down large projects into smaller, manageable tasks. Working with to-do lists and building milestones can help you stay on track. Try to add a productivity tool, such as Trello, to monitor progress and stay on track. Besides, having an aid that visually shows completion, by moving cards to a complete column or ticking boxes is an excellent morale boost.

Lastly, do not be afraid to negotiate deadlines. Our productivity levels can vary from one week to another, meaning that at times we can fall behind, so setting expectations is important here.

Communicate Clearly and Regularly

Where would humans be if it weren’t for good communication?

The value of communication cannot be measured. The same is true in a remote environment. Thankfully, we have a bunch of tech that can support good comms practices. Emphasis is required to fill the gaps when dealing with tasks that are too abstract and can be lost through the lack of cues and body language.

At The Scale Factory, we promote a fully collaboratively remote environment. Collaboration is also well-balanced between asynchronous and synchronous communication so that we can respect each other’s boundaries.

We also strive to deliver good etiquette on Slack and Zoom. A good tip here is to ensure your status is updated so you are not interrupted during your ‘focus time’ or when trying to finish that yummy sandwich.

Remember to be inclusive in your communication. We opt for chatting in channels as opposed to DMs, so everyone can participate.

Regular check-ins, team meetings, and online pairings also help us foster a sense of connection and alignment, reducing misunderstanding and stress.

Practice Self-Care

It’s easy to neglect self-care in the midst of demanding deadlines and technical challenges. However, there are many steps we can take to ensure we are looking after ourselves.

We have all heard of the good habits of taking breaks, healthy eating, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and making time for activities that bring you joy and fulfilment. It all sounds simple, but don’t underestimate the power of delivering on these steps to ensure you are keeping well.

In addition, many studies have proven that mindfulness and meditation can play a huge part in improving how we feel about ourselves and work. Most of these exercises can be taken anywhere at any time, so give them a try to see if it works for you. After all any steps we take to reduce our levels of stress during the day are a great achievement.

We are social beings: cultivating meaningful relationships with friends, family, or support groups, as well as spending time with loved ones, provide us with great emotional support and strengthen our sense of belonging.

Remember to be compassionate with yourself by applying the same level of kindness and understanding that you offer to a friend in need.

Set Boundaries and Learn to Say No

Working remotely can blur the boundaries between work and personal life (we covered some steps on how to prevent this), leading to feelings of overwhelm and burnout.

Establish clear boundaries by setting specific work hours, communicating your availability to colleagues, and learning to say no to excessive workloads or unrealistic expectations.

The same rule applies to things that are draining or cause undue stress. Remember that it’s okay to prioritise your mental and emotional wellbeing, even if it means pushing back on certain demands.

Seek Support and Connection

Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out for support when you feel stressed or overwhelmed.

Luckily at The Scale Factory, we have access to an Employee Assistant Scheme and Private Health insurance, but if you do not, reach out to a trusted colleague or supervisor: reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Prioritise social connection with your peers through virtual coffee breaks or team-building activities to combat feelings of isolation and boost morale.

Let’s create a healthier, more supportive work environment where everyone can thrive.

Does this sound like something you can relate to and you feel like this might be the right environment for you? Take a moment to read more about our company values.

Remember, talking to someone is a great place to start.

Telephone (UK): 116 123

Telephone (UK): 0300 123 3393

Telephone (UK): 111

This blog is written exclusively by The Scale Factory team. We do not accept external contributions.

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