April 28, 2020

Mental Health Best Practices for Adjusting to Remote Work

Written by
Miranda Raimon
Reviewed by
Updated on
April 30, 2024
Virtual meeting on laptop next to green houseplant

Ever since the COVID-19 swept across the globe, the landscape of work as we know it has evolved. Cities and downtown areas that once buzzed with commuters heading to or from crowded workplaces are now much less crowded.

During the pandemic, a new stage of ‘forced’ remote work in the time of self-isolation and quarantine caused a shift the way a lot of people went about their day-to-day life — especially when it came to work. Today, you may have started a new job that's entirely remote and may have a hard time adjusting when you were used to a hybrid or in-person model.

Having trouble adjusting to remote work? You aren’t alone. As employees navigate this new environment, mental health issues are very likely to come to the forefront of the struggle. By keeping a pulse of your own mental health challenges, having open communication with those around you (virtually or in your household) and self-advocating what you need, this adjustment phase of remote work can be managed effectively.

Your check-in strategy

An adjustment, like changing the environment in which you work, is a massive change. The first thing to do when considering how to manage your own mental health in this type of situation, is to be aware of your state of mind. By turning inward to identify how you’re feeling (nervous, panicked, stressed, unmotivated, etc.), you’ll have a baseline to advocate for what you need from employers.

You may be feeling many things at once, so make it a point to ‘schedule’ regular check-ins with yourself and adjust your habits as needed.


Not everyone enjoys working from home. If you fall into the bucket of ‘would-prefer-to-be-in-office-with-free-snacks,’ this new chapter of remote work could seem less than ideal.

Advantages to working at home range from cutting out commuting time to a no-stress dress code. And while further flexibility with scheduling, breaks, sign-on and log-off time vary from company to company and manager to manager, it’s worth having a conversation with your workplace to convey what would make this situation work for you, and what’s available.


Starting during the pandemic, many employers put together a guide or playbook which includes employee resources. This could range from a budget to set up your remote space (ergonomic chairs, standing desks, wrist-supporting keypads, etc.) to online therapy sessions to help you work through how you’re feeling. Talk with your employers about what you need — as they likely already have resources in place to manage work stress. If you’re feeling pressure or uncertainty about your new working environment, reach out to your manager or HR team to learn what resources are at your disposal.


When adjusting to remote work from having worked only in an office or traditional workplace environment, it’s essential to set boundaries to protect some semblance of work-life balance.

Your home is now your main office, and especially for those of us without a dedicated room for work, waking up and seeing your computer or files can become a stressor. In addition to the physical presence of work at your home, the other mental and emotional demands require creating healthy boundaries to tune out work when needed. Ideas for clear boundaries to set when working remotely include:

  • Some kind of dedicated space for work (i.e. a desk, a corner) that is separate from your ‘living’ space, or that can be moved out of sight during off hours.
  • Setting designated start and stop times for work with your employer and team, to protect your personal time. Be sure to speak with your workplace about what this looks like, and try to stick to a consistent schedule in order to set expectations within your team.
  • Committing to at least one full break from work during the work day where you remove yourself from the office you’ve created.

Working remotely within a household

If you’re diving into remote work among others who dwell in the same space, there are considerations and resources to keep in mind. Housemates, extended family, partners or children can all become colleagues when the workplace is brought home.

  • Childcare: Ensure you have a conversation with other members of the household — as well as your workplace — to set expectations. This could mean creating a ‘tag-team’ schedule with your partner to split time for work and watching the kids, or prefacing each conference call with a reminder that workmates could hear or see kids in the background if they are home from school.
  • Space: Carving out space to work remotely when there are others around can be a challenge. Try approaching the conversion with compromise and negotiation in mind. This could look like splitting work-time hours, avoiding scheduling meetings at the same times, etc.
  • Noise control: Where possible be considerate of meetings, videos, music, etc. while working from home — and ask for the same thoughtfulness from those around you.

Working remotely alone

Settling into remote work life at home when you live alone can also present unique challenges. While it may seem easier, as you’re less likely to run into space, noise or interruptions, the issue of isolation is more prevalent.

  • Socialization: Working remotely doesn’t mean that socializing need to stop — especially at work. Get active on workplace messaging platforms (like Google Chat, Slack, etc.). If it’s appropriate or available, join or create channels and conversations about your interests to bring familiar the water cooler chat online.
  • Breaks: If you don’t have forced interruptions by those around you, like children or housemates, you may become ultra-absorbed in your work. Don’t forget that breaks are necessary. Stretch your legs, listen to a podcast, even switch contexts and read an article not related to work — and do so regularly.


Working from home, particularly when it’s not welcome or familiar, can bring up new or exacerbate existing mental health issues. As with all times of change or stress, self-care and stress management iare paramount. Self-care can look different to everyone. While working remote, you may have more flexibility to explore self-care practices. Examples of essential self-care include:

  • Movement: Exercise is key for all — and especially when working in a more sedentary environment. There are numerous resources and libraries of fitness/stretching content online to learn how to best take care of your body when sitting for prolonged periods. Any type of fitness, from a HIIT session to a walk around the block, can serve as self-care.
  • Mindfulness: For many people, it's easy for thoughts to spiral, or you may find it hard to ‘switch off’ when you need to. Amp up any mindfulness practices you’re familiar with, or explore new ones — meditation, breathing exercises and mindful movement can all help de-stress and encourage relaxation.
  • Hobbies: If your home becomes your office, don’t allow work to take over your day. Identify something you’re passionate about and can practice separate from any work tasks or learning. For example, puzzles, drawing, pickleball, cooking, photography, or gardening can all serve as passion projects.

Personalized therapy

If you haven’t already explored therapy and have noticed a drop in your mental health working remotely, a qualified, experienced therapist can help you understand and work through anxiety, fear or stress.

When you book a matching appointment with Two Chairs, a licensed clinician will get to know you and match you with someone from our diverse team of therapists who can help you with this life adjustment.

Adjusting to remote work can be difficult, but there are many tools available to help you get through it and get you back to the quality of life you deserve.

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