For many people, the chance to work from home has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise bleak, pandemic-stricken world. Remote work has given us the ability to take control of our schedules. We get to spend more time with our families and work according to our preferred pace and time of the day.
And yet over the weeks and months, we’ve all encountered different challenges with these new arrangements. Maybe you’ve experienced some uncomfortable strain in your wrists or back. The lack of structure could leave you feeling less productive. Or perhaps you’ve been having difficulty communicating with your colleagues.
Improvements around the house can help deal with these problems. In the long term, a renovation can be worth the investment as it turns part of your home into a real office. But before you contact your mortgage broker to arrange a loan, here are some simple tips to consider from an unlikely source of inspiration: video gamers.
Get the right equipment
More adults play video games today, and the hobby as a whole is more widely accepted than in years past. But most of us are likely to be familiar with gaming on mobile devices. The stereotypical video game player who spends hours playing non-stop with a powerhouse computer build is still relatively uncommon.
Yet it’s these people who can teach us the most about how to make remote work more comfortable, or at least bearable. They can spend an entire day sitting in front of a screen, barely leaving the room, let alone the house. And they can tell you that ergonomics is a worthwhile investment.
An adjustable ergonomic chair could be the best single upgrade you make. Be sure to test the model extensively and check the return policy; you should be able to send it back if it doesn’t work out. For best results, get used to working in a reclined position, as this helps eliminate the tendency to hunch forward.
Likewise, an ergonomic keyboard and mouse are vital upgrades to alleviate wrist pain. And don’t overlook the visual aspect. A good monitor needs to be calibrated to the brightness of the environment, angled for a comfortable eye level, and offer plenty of digital real estate to boost your productivity.
Approach work like an athlete
However, ergonomic design is just one piece of the puzzle. Many competitive gamers realize that there’s no getting around the fact that humans aren’t evolved to be sitting down for hours on end.
It would help if you took breaks. Not only to grab a bite and something to drink but to stand up, pace around, stretch out your tired body, and disconnect your mind to renew your focus.
However, even though work is hardly as addictive as video games can be, it’s easy to get lost and lose track of time when you work in an unstructured environment. Having to overcome far greater immersion has taught video gamers something vital in this regard. If you want to improve your performance, you need to have an athlete’s discipline.
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you set the morning alarm to go off the minute your daily Zoom conference starts. Even if it’s cool to show up in pajamas, you should still have a routine. Prepare a healthy breakfast and keep some nutritious snacks and water nearby instead of junk food and soda.
Make room in your daily schedule for multiple exercise breaks, even if it’s just a short walk after meals. Set the alarm for each break to stand up and stretch. And make sure you get adequate sleep in regular hours.
Communications can improve
The most widely played video games in today’s world have a massive social component to them. Thus, video gamers are also in a great position to offer advice about overcoming the communication challenges that now beset remote teams.
Part of the improvement in this area has to do with the tools we use. If everybody defaults to email threads or chatting in Slack, that sets the bar really low. We lose a lot of our nonverbal cues in those channels; the message gets muddled easily.
Gamers often use voice chat tools to retain that intimacy and immediacy of communication. It allows them to work together effectively as a team, even with players who are total strangers.
Call for improvements in the way your team uses online communication tools. When you’re on a voice or video call, nobody likes dead air. There’s an urge to keep the conversation going; it encourages spontaneity in a way that text-based tools never will. And though it can be awkward at first, it will help everyone communicate clearly and become better at collaboration towards the shared goal.