One Year of Working From Home: What We’ve Learned

Active Minds
Active Minds

Creative and nontraditional tips from our staff for staying engaged while working from home…one year later.


For many of us, it is our one-year anniversary of working from home. Despite the uncertainties of the pandemic, you may remember initially feeling relieved and excited to finally get the opportunity to work from the comforts of your own home. Perhaps, a year later, that feeling has eventually worn off. Working in PJs from your bed no longer has its perks, you can’t wait to put on real clothes, you actually miss your commute, and you can’t remember the last time you left your home. Now you may be searching for more creative ways to stay engaged with your work, co-workers, and peers while maintaining your mental health.

We got you. The Active Minds team recently compiled a list of their favorite creative tips for making the most out of the work day:

Staying Focused While Working from Home

  • Set a beginning and ending time to your day and schedule an activity or ritual that signifies the work day has begun or ended.
  • Get dressed for the day as if you are going into the workplace (you can always wear fuzzy socks and slippers if you want to) and then change out of your work clothes after your day is over.
  • Invest in and ask for what you need to be successful at your job.
    • For example, nearly a third of our team found a way to get an office chair to support our spines. Invest in an office chair, yoga ball, or back pillow that will support good posture. 
  • When you don’t have many meetings, switch up your workspace in another area of your home or backyard.
  • If you have a hard time sitting still for hour-long meetings or webinars, buy some fidget spinners and place them insight. Using a tool or “toy” can help you stay focused on the topic at hand.
  • Create Google Doc work plans for each project and link all documents needed on that main work plan.
  • Schedule in time for professional development. Take a break from the day-to-day and read an article, listen to a podcast, or read a chapter in a book relevant to the work you are doing.
  • Clean your workspace at the end of the week as if you are packing up for the weekend. That way, you can go into Monday with a clean slate.

Creating a Relaxing Atmosphere

  • Light a candle. (no need to save that expensive candle for a special occasion – treat yourself – today is a special occasion)
  • Play instrumental or non-lyrical music in the background.
  • During more mundane tasks, put on your favorite podcast in the background.
  • Add plants to help purify the air and maybe bring you a little bit of joy.
  • Diffuse essential oils.
  • Design, optimize, and decorate your workspace – make it your personal haven for focus.
  • Open a window for some fresh air when the weather allows.
  • Take a break to pet your favorite furry friend.

Taking Care of Your Mental and Physical Health

  • Be honest with yourself and aim for transparency with those you manage and your manager about your workload. Do you have too much work on your plate, too little, or just the right amount?
  • Take walking breaks or walking meetings.
  • Track your hydration using refrigerator magnets. Every time you fill up your water bottle, move a magnet to the other side of the fridge.
  • Keep an inspirational book on your desk to read a few pages when you need a mental break.
  • Create a meditation corner with pillows and blankets.
  • Be sure to get sunlight.
  • Challenge yourself to some movement during your lunch break. Schedule it in your calendar for accountability.
  • If you feel safe doing so, be honest with your supervisor regarding the personal stressors that you are juggling while working from home. They may be more than happy to offer a helping hand or arrange an accommodating work schedule.
  • Set a daily reminder to get up from your workspace to stretch.

Connecting with Your Teammates 

  • Stay connected on Slack or another team chat platform. Be creative with your channels, such as having space for employees to discuss their favorite hobbies, TV shows, podcasts, pets, etc. Recreate the water cooler conversations.
  • Share a work-appropriate funny meme, gif, video, or story with your team that may relate to your work. Laughter stimulates creativity.
  • Set up time with a co-worker who is on a different team to learn more about the work they are doing.
  • Schedule optional weekly team lunches where each week a different staff member volunteers to lead an activity, game, or fun discussion on something non-work related.
  • Learn your workstyle and share it with your teammates.
  • Schedule 15-minute coffee breaks to catch up with any of your co-workers that you don’t connect with often.

Remember, working from home, especially during the pandemic, is a marathon and not a sprint. You don’t need to implement all of these strategies, especially not at once. Find what works for you, including what brings you joy, and lean into what contributes to your best self at work. Always be kind to yourself throughout the process, and don’t be afraid to change it up and ask for what you need to be successful to work from home. Remote working is a learning process, and your needs are ever-changing, so be sure to give yourself grace and time to adjust.