Real story: 10 work-from-home tips to keep you positive, productive & creative

Over the past year, more people worked from home than ever before. That came with challenges, whether it was finding the right workspace or figuring out how to hold a Zoom call with a houseful of partners, kids and pets.

At BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, people got creative. Here are 10 successful ideas from 5 BlueCross employees:

1. “Have lunch” with coworkers

Allison Everett: I enjoy the energy of being around others, and I miss the people I work with. I set up a virtual lunch with my team so we can reconnect and share information just as we would in the office. It helps me catch up with people I don’t spend a lot of time with, and listening to my colleagues’ challenges gives me perspective.

2. Dedicate a space to work

Joshua Wright: Originally I had no set office space. I had to completely change the way I telecommuted. Now I have one quiet spot with three monitors and a stand-up desk. And I make sure to move around on breaks.

3. Limit your information intake

Fernando Martinez: I believe it’s important to be informed of what’s going on, but I’ve learned that I don’t need to consume as much news as I thought. And I definitely don’t need to start my day off with it.

4. Move every hour and at lunch

Elizabeth Wagner: Taking a quick break at the top of an hour to stretch or walk around improves my mood so much. I also like to use my lunch break to walk, stretch, do yoga or exercise with my family. For the past few weeks, we’ve hit the tennis courts. We aren’t professionals, but we have fun, expand our lungs and get our heart rates up! 

5. Make mealtime collaborative

Makeda Cotton: I missed interacting with my coworkers, and I missed our cafeteria. Trust me: You’re on your own to come up with food ideas at home! Creating and sharing recipes has been a great way to connect. Over time, I’ve lost 96 pounds through diet and exercise. I get a lot of healthy recipes through Zoom, FaceTime or Facebook Messenger, which keeps me on track and keeps me from getting bored.

6. Work outside

Allison: At the beginning, I didn’t have a dedicated workspace. What I did have was an active dog who doesn’t understand why I’m not willing to play with her constantly! One solution addressed both problems: I work from the back porch 2-3 hours every day while she runs in the yard. We both end up happy and productive!

7. Track your stress levels

Elizabeth: Feeling isolated was one of the greatest challenges I’ve faced while working remotely. I started doing a daily check-in with a wellness program to rate my stress level. Tracking my emotions has helped me to be more aware of how I am feeling.

8. Start your day calmly, and with purpose

Fernando: Many days, I find my thoughts shifting between work and preparing for the unknown. Starting the day off with prayer, meditation and gratitude helps me focus. It can be as simple as making a list of all the blessings in your life or finding a devotional to study. And it’s a great way to use the time you’re getting back each day thanks to your zero-mile commute.

9. Structure your schedule

Elizabeth: At one point, I felt exhausted 24/7, so I decided to go back to basics. I started a nighttime schedule: Bath and bedtime for my son begins at 8 p.m. Once he’s tucked away, I turn off the electronics, enjoy a hot bath or shower and wind down. I tuck myself in by 11 p.m., and I wake up at 6:30. That gives me 8 hours of sleep, which gives me more energy all day. It’s helped my work performance, and it’s helped me to be a better human being in general.”

10. Stay social

Joshua: Socializing with coworkers gives me a mental boost. The more days passed, the more I realized that old traditions and conversations were falling away. Having chat channels, text message groups, casual lunch Zoom meetings, and even instant-messaging each other are good ways to stay in touch and feel connected.

Ashley Brantley

Ashley Brantley

Ashley Brantley has been writing about food, culture and health for more than a decade, and has lived in three of Tennessee’s four major cities (Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville).

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BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also use tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the in the Member Wellness Center under the Managing Your Health tab.