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Wellbeing while working from home

This article was first published during the early part of Covid 19 Lockdown, but the suggestions and tips are still valid today.

We don’t know about you, but boy is it hard to focus at the moment. News alerts pinging, life changing announcements hour by hour, working from home, homeschooling, dealing with isolation and only being able to get outside once a day.

I think we can all agree this is a stressful time when wellbeing for both business owners and employees alike is more crucial than ever. We’re all in the same boat right now, we’re all at home and dealing with uncertainty and why we all need to keep healthy and balanced.  Here are some pointers we have put together to maintain balance and support wellbeing.

Take control

Over the next few weeks routines will start to emerge, but, in the meantime it’s important to take control of the chaos and draw a clear line between work and home. Do this by creating a clearly defined workspace that you can easily step away from and switch-off and one that if you have  children they know they can’t play in. or If you have your own office, then close the door at the end of the day to send a mental signal that work is done.

If you are working in an open area, such as a lounge or kitchen, mark it out as your space and make sure you close down your laptop, take a deep breath and walk away when it’s the end of your working day.

Take a break

Unfortunately, taking a break is easier said than done as one of the main challenges with homeworking is actually stepping away from your desk. Flexible working can bring about a sense of guilt around the fact that you’re not immediately ‘visible’, especially when working part time or remotely.

Quite simply, don’t. We all need breaks and we all need to move and stretch our legs. They increase productivity and creativity and reduce errors or decision-making fatigue. Taking a break doesn’t mean you’re ‘slacking’, or that you care less, it means you’re taking a break.

Oliver Frois, Mental Health Lead Consultant, Shine Workplace Wellbeing says: “If you get rid of your commute, the walk to and from colleagues’ desks or the coffee machine or canteen etc. – let alone any usual exercise – it is highly likely that you will be moving a lot less than you usually would if you’re working from home.”

Couple this with the potential of bad posture from sitting in unnatural positions in your new homeworking environment, the need to move and stretch becomes even more important.

Factoring in time to exercise and stretch not only helps break up your day and realign your posture, but there is significant evidence that it has positive effects on your mental health. Several studies have shown that regular exercise reduces symptoms of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and social withdrawal, particularly important in the current climate.

Whilst your usual exercise fix in the gym, swimming or yoga classes may not be possible at the moment, this is also an opportunity to adapt and think creatively as to the adaptations that you can make rather than the things that you aren’t currently able to do.”

Turn the volume down

Wow, this is a noisy world at the moment. Social media is going crazy, everybody has an opinion and news updates are pumping out 24×7. Understandably, there is a certain amount of anxiety being generated around hearsay and the unknown.

Continues Frois: “In times such as these, anxiety in the general population is likely to rise with greater feelings of uncertainty, and sometimes a never-ending spiral of ‘what if’ thoughts. This is only exacerbated by the constant stream of information, not just from the mainstream media, but also social media sites.

The more time we spend focusing on the possibility of catastrophe, the more anxious and demoralised we are likely to feel. At Shine, our advice would be to try and limit your time spent on these sites.

If you find them overwhelming, stop using them or mute the terms that may cause you to feel low or anxious. Alternatively, have set times and time limits around media consumption. Doing this will also allow you to be more productive and focused during the day.

We don’t have control over the media that is being produced but we do make the choice as to how and when we consume them.”

Wellbeing app, Headspace is offering free meditations during the pandemic, so why not send the link out to staff or your team. Budgets-permitting, it may be worth investing in membership as part of your company wellbeing policy.

Organise a Zoom social

Research from social media scheduling platform, Buffer, found that around 41% of respondents struggle with loneliness and switching off when homeworking.

Although the idea of working from home sounds great, in reality it can, at times, be lonely and isolating. It’s not something that suits everybody; understandably some of your employees, or even you, may struggle with this way of working.

To combat this, schedule regular one-to-one calls to make sure your team are doing well. There’s also an emerging trend around Zoom socials, which may be worth exploring. As you can share multiple screens, it’s a great way catch-up with teams.

Schedule a call at the end of the day pour yourself a glass of wine, relax, have a giggle.  Alternatively arrange an online tea, coffee and cake session during the day and use this as an opportunity to get to know your team better.

Cut yourself some slack

This is a time when we all need to go easy on ourselves and do the best that we can under the circumstances. If you’re a parent, be realistic about what you can achieve during the day and make sure you communicate this clearly to your boss, line manager or team.

As an employer or manager, this is a time where it’s important you’re as upfront as possible to employees. Offer regular company updates and try to be transparent whenever you can. In a time of uncertainty, it’s important to make some aspects of the day-to-day a little more defined.

At Capability Jane, we’ve been flexible working specialists for over a decade and understand its benefits and challenges, which has helped us be on the front foot with many aspects of remote working.

But we too are adapting to these unprecedented times and are adopting new ideas to support our team’s wellbeing in these difficult circumstances.

We’d love to hear from you

If you are new to remote working and would like to share your experiences with us, please email lisadoherty@capabilityjane.mysites.io or comment on our facebook page. We would love to hear from you.

Shine Workplace Wellbeing specialises in helping companies improve the health and happiness of their workforce, enhancing business performance as a result.

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