Brad D. Smith Shares Tips on Balancing Work and Wellness Based on His Own Experiences

Woman smiling and looking at laptop as she is typing

The last two years have seen a monumental shift in the work environment. With the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic came a great migration — many employees packed up their desks and set up shop at home, diving headfirst into a professional ecosystem that the world had not yet seen before. Now, in 2022, as the pandemic slowly eases on, life as we once knew it has begun to return. But the work life and culture of the past has not. Many have chosen to either remain at home permanently or opt for a hybrid work environment: commuting to the office occasionally, rather than every day.

The Great Resignation and Its Impact on Wellness

The changes in employee mindset and working preference have both contributed to the trend that economists have dubbed the Great Resignation. In an employee’s market, many individuals are using the pandemic and shifting work environment to level up their professional lives — using the collapse of geographic barriers to seek to be hired with employers who best match their own values and provide desired working conditions, such as the option to work from home.

And while working from home certainly has its advantages — a nonexistent commute, flexible hours and greater opportunity to spend time with loved ones and pets — many are also discovering that it does not come without its own challenges. In fact, studies indicate that remote work has a tendency to negatively impact individuals’ physical and mental health.

In March 2021, a report from the Journal of Occupational Environmental Medicine stated that in one study — which focused on the health impacts of working from home — “Around two-thirds of respondents reported having one or more new physical health issues, and nearly three-fourths of respondents experienced at least one new mental health issue.”

Now more than ever, it’s important for employees to remain diligent in tending to their own wellness. In his own career journey, Brad D. Smith has picked up several learnings and habits that have helped him maintain a healthy balance between work and life. These are his top three tips.

Tip 1: Prioritize yourself 

When discussing this tip, Brad used the analogy of donning an oxygen mask in an airplane. Those who have taken to the skies before know that the recommended protocol advises, in the case of an emergency, that individuals secure their own oxygen masks before helping those around them. In other words, you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. The same is true when it comes to having a successful career. It’s a belief held by many — Brad included — that you can not necessarily do your best on the job if you’re not doing enough to show up as your best self.

One thing Brad has done throughout his career to prioritize his own health has been to establish a routine. Drawing from his own experiences, he believes that having a routine can be beneficial to both mental and physical wellness, and encourages people to hold themselves accountable to their own self, just as they would their work.

Having a routine can be especially helpful when working from home. For example, morning workouts or after-work gym sessions can stave off the sedentary lifestyle associated with back-to-back Zoom meetings, and established working hours can encourage a healthy and productive state of mind.

Tip 2: Set Boundaries

While most might view this tip as something that’s easier said than done, Brad believes that establishing clear boundaries is imperative to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. In fact, experts agree that this is especially important when working remotely. Some ways that remote workers can establish a clear boundary between their professional and personal lives include:

  • Setting up a designated workspace in the home.
  • Sticking to a defined work schedule.
  • Making and keeping social plans outside of work.

Brad has personally emphasized that it’s important to know when you’ll walk away from work at the end of the day. Having a clearly defined end-of-day can go a long way in establishing a clear boundary between work and life.

Tip 3: Seek Ways to Innovate

For many, working from home comes with unique challenges that are nonexistent in more traditional office spaces. Whether it be managing children at home while working or communicating with co-workers several time zones away, Brad falls back on innovation as a tool for achieving both health and success. He believes it’s important to, “look for ways to be more efficient doing the work while maintaining the same effectiveness.”

While not a remote role, Brad has personally been experiencing the need to innovate in his new position as Marshall University’s President. Brad stepped into the role later in life, switching industries and diving headfirst into the foreign world of academia.

Still in his first year, Brad has admitted that he has been doing a lot of learning along the way. Working 16-hour weekdays and 8-hour weekends, he quickly realized that he couldn’t outpower the work. Instead, he recognized he needed to strategize.

“You have to think about how to out-think the work, not out-work the work.”

Brad’s current experiences can be related to by many individuals who, during the pandemic, have chosen to switch jobs. While it can be exciting to change jobs, careers or even industries, doing so inevitably means facing a learning curve. Finding ways to innovate — especially in a remote environment — is not only beneficial to the work itself but to oneself as well.

Additional Resources 

With the rise of remote work has also come the recognition that many of us could do more to prioritize the well-being of ourselves and others. For those seeking additional resources for better managing their health and efficiency, there are a handful of tools available. Check out some additional resources below.