Coronavirus: ‘Fake commutes’ helping some employees separate work, home amid COVID-19

Ten minutes, twice per day could be just what the doctor ordered to help struggling teleworkers maintain a healthier work-life balance amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

While millions of former commuters now working from home may not miss the physical act of sitting in highway gridlock or battling train station crowds or subway malfunctions, the loss of distinct routines separating home and work life means those worlds, more often than not, collide.

Enter the “fake commute,” where people replace that daily transition with walks, runs, bike rides and even meditation.

>> Read more trending news

Susan Jaworski, an office worker in Houston, told KTRK that she now starts and ends her workday with a quick bike ride around her neighborhood to help clear her mind.

“Once it started really bleeding over, that’s when I said, ‘I have got to do something, try something different,’” Jaworski told the TV station. “One more email. One more phone call. That one more message. That 10 minutes was turning into an hour, two hours.”

Ravi S. Gajendran, an associate professor at Florida International University’s College of Business, told CNN via email that the loss of distinctive transition between home and work has made the juggling act all the more difficult.

“It’s hard to smoothly hop on to a work-related Zoom call right after dealing with a demanding situation with kids at home. Likewise, it’s hard to leave behind the stresses and mental worries of (a) work-related Zoom call and instantly switch to being a loving and caring partner or spouse,” Gajendran wrote, noting many people are forced to bounce between those two all-consuming roles multiple times per day.

Louise Sharp told CNN that she quickly found herself logging in to her laptop earlier and signing off later, but a nearly 5-mile walk each day helped her prioritize her responsibilities, improve her mood and boost her motivation.

“Spending too much time in front of a screen and with no likely return to the office, I knew I had to do something,” Sharp, a whole family practitioner in Warrington, Cheshire, England, told the network.

Likewise, Ilona Alcock told CNN that she and her husband traded train rides and deliberate, destination-centric walks into more leisurely strolls that have become “an absolute lifeline.”

“They gave me a reason to get out of bed at the same time each morning and set me up for a more productive, active day. Walking outside has a massive positive impact on my mental health,” Alcock, co-founder of business development consultancy Elevate Greater Manchester in England, added.

More coronavirus pandemic coverage:

>> Coronavirus vaccines: CDC separates myths from facts

>> Coronavirus: Should we be wearing two masks when we go out in public?

>> Coronavirus: How long between exposure to the virus and the start of symptoms?

>> What are your chances of coming into contact with someone who has COVID-19? This tool will tell you

>> Wash your masks: How to clean a cloth face covering

>> Fact check: Will masks lower the oxygen level, raise the carbon dioxide in your blood?

>> How to not let coronavirus pandemic fatigue set in, battle back if it does