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Working from home

Due to the current restrictions to help reduce the impact of Coronavirus most of us will be spending a significant amount of time working from home.  Working from home for a prolonged period is not something we are accustomed to.

It’s important that you take steps to look after your mental and physical wellbeing during this time. We all need to find individual methods that support our wellbeing and need to be mindful that it’s easy to fall into patterns that can have a negative impact.  It’s important to take time to consider coping strategies that you can use to help you through this time.

 

Keep in contact – social distancing but not social isolation

During this period of social distancing, remaining connected with those around us is incredibly important.  Whist many of us have partners, families and strong social networks, some people may also be facing social isolation and loneliness. Keep in regular contact with your manager as you would at work, and check in with your colleagues now and again to ask how they’re feeling. Here’s what you can do to keep connected:

  • Why not schedule quick video calls with colleagues you would regularly chat to about non-work issues – use these as a buffer between calls?
  • Perhaps also set up coffee mornings with a group of colleagues, where you each bring a drink and catch up.
  • WhatsApp groups are also an effective way of keeping in touch with multiple groups of friends or family – but be careful not to sign up to too many of these as that can sometimes become a stress in itself!

We would hopefully all ask a friend or colleague how they are when we see them, so we need to remember to replicate this act virtually – even a little text message can make a big difference to someone.

 

What not to wear

Whilst being comfortable is of course important, especially if the majority of the day is spent sitting for long periods, wearing the same clothes to work in that you would normally wear to relax in, can create challenges with the separation of working time and downtime. Try to get into a routine of wearing comfortable work clothes that you can change out of to help signal the end of the formal working day.  Definitely change out of your pyjamas every morning!

 

Take breaks

During a normal working day in the office there are natural breaks in between meetings – even if this is just a walk to a meeting room or a trip to the photocopier.  Time away from the computer is proven to increase productivity and improve wellbeing so factor in a few short breaks throughout the day; 5-10 minutes is recommended every hour or a change in activity, like walking around while you’re on the phone. You should also make sure to give your eyes a break by changing focus or blinking from time to time.

Here’s what you can do to factor in breaks:

  • Try not to put back to back calls in the diary – even leaving five minutes in between them can massively help, and 25- or 55-minute meetings can also focus the time better and make discussions more efficient.
  • Think about the time it would usually take to get from one meeting room to another and don’t feel guilty about taking this time away from the screen, relax, breath, stretch, do something different.

 

Keep active

We all know the benefits of exercise on both our physical and mental health, but we’re likely to be more sedentary as we’re spending more time at home.  Current government advice allows us to go out for one form of exercise a day, whether that’s a walk, jog or bike ride – try to do this to stay healthy.  Try to take at least 250 steps every hour during the day (some activity trackers will helpfully remind you to do this).  You can also do a home workout  – there are plenty of videos on YouTube and this Sport England article has tips and advice on how to keep active in and around your home.

 

Set boundaries

When working from home, it’s easy for the lines between work and home to be blurred and more important than ever to set boundaries. Separation is really important so if you don’t have an office to work from, use a box or use your work bag to tidy away all your work items at the end of the day to return your space to your home.  

Be clear about your working hours with colleagues (set your availability in your calendar or put on your out of office when you’re not working) and just as you might need to leave the office to run for a train, make sure you are disciplined enough to stop working when you need to.

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