On Stress Awareness Day 2020: Our 10 ‘astute’ tips for working from home
As England heads into a second national lockdown, we provide some tips for working from home during this stressful time, and hope this helps those feeling anxious, worried or struggling generally.
Stress Awareness Day, falls today, 4th November 2020. It was created by the Founder of International Stress Management Association (ISMA) Carole Spiers in 1998.
Carole is speaking at an online Stress and Wellbeing Summit, covering stress management, workplace wellbeing and how to develop resilience during unprecedented times, as a result of the pandemic.
In this ‘new normal’, companies, and their staff face massive challenges with millions of people once again asked to work from home – some for the first time in their lives.
Carole Spiers said, “With over half of adults reporting that their mental health worsened during the first lockdown (MIND Survey, June 2020), it’s more important than ever to get wellbeing working for home-workers.”
We are sharing ISMA’s 10 tips on working from home productively with a few extra pointers we all learned at Astute Recruitment in the last lockdown: –
1/ Dress as though you are going to work.
Finding a daily routine is proven to help anxiety and stress. Find a place that is exclusively yours during working hours. Get dressed every morning, at the same time. Don’t stay in pyjamas and slippers every day. If you need to make or attend video calls, you need to be dressed for the camera.
2/ Be open to adapting to change
People are creatures of habit and often do not like changes to our daily routines. Now we find ourselves in the current changing situation, we must be able to adapt, be open to adapt and get used to change quickly. Try and think positively about ways you can use your time in isolation most productively.
3/ Try exercising and eating healthily
Every day build some time for exercise. This can just be a short stroll or an online fitness class. Diarise this. Make this something to break up your day and change your focus away from ‘work’. Be aware of what you are eating and try and eat more healthily. You can pre-plan your meals and get creative with your cooking if some food items aren’t easily available.
Stock up on some staples that you can mix and match to knock something together easily. Don’t forget that frozen vegetables retain their goodness and vitamins much longer than freshly bought items.
4/ Using IT to keep in touch
When you are used to working with others, it is not easy being by yourself. Make full use of video/ online meetings, video calls and phone apps to stay in touch with colleagues and others in your circle. At Astute in the last lockdown, our team whether furloughed or not, said that their highlight of the day during lockdown was our daily zoom meeting. It wasn’t about work, it was about talking and seeing each other and really helped everyone. Whether working from home or not, to have a daily time to look forward to catching up with friends at work, (albeit in their homes!) can provide a real highlight to your day and ‘lift’ your spirits.
5/ Make it easier to work with family at home
Having to work with small children, older kids, and partners/ husbands/ extended family at home doesn’t help you to concentrate. But what can you do? If you have a partner, share the load. If you live alone with children, get them occupied with an activity before you start to work. Build a routine, a day plan that the kids can get used to, and share this in the kitchen on a wallchart or whiteboard. If everyone understands when ‘Mummy or Daddy’ needs to be working – it is easier to have that time alone.
6/ Plan work in blocks of time
Normal office hours between – 9 – 5 might not work in Lockdown and working from home. If you have children, you may choose to work in the evening as well, or very first thing before the kids get up and get a couple of hours admin out of the way. There is nothing wrong with this and this helped a number of our team with kids or partners, to manage their day, give them structure and help them be really productive.
It is essential to build in breaks where you can step away from your bedroom/ kitchen table or if you are very lucky – your home office 😊 Set your alarm on your mobile so that you have regular meal times and just even 5-minute breaks to go and make a cuppa. With no usual office banter or typical office distractions, it can be all too easy to zone out and suddenly realise hours have gone by and you haven’t eaten anything!
Make sure you take regular breaks and set yourself goals during the day.
7/ Keep in touch with friends!
It can be really lonely working from home. With no distractions from your friends in the office as usual, think of someone you can ‘buddy’ up with. We are all social creatures and thrive with social interactions. Having a ‘buddy’ to share experiences with and give each other support/ advice – is a brilliant idea and so good for your wellbeing (and sanity!). It can often give you a real lift. Get imaginative and have a ‘Friday drink’ at 4pm/ 5pm – or later in the evening – share a glass of wine, online!
8/ Get the balance right
There is no ‘one size fits all’ and recognising this is absolutely key.
What works for you does not necessarily work for someone else! Use trial and error until you find the right balance and don’t feel bad about getting it wrong a few times! Kids/ pets/ partners and life in general will still throw some curve balls.
If you do find certain things work – share your successes with friends and co-workers. You may just have the key to unlock some of their problems!
Talk to people used to working alone from the last lockdown. There may also be people you know who are used to working from home anyway. Contact them and ask what tips and ideas they can share. They will be glad to share if they know it will help you/ someone else!
9/ Have clear boundaries between ‘home/ family life’ and ‘work-life’
Every day, At the end of your ‘work’ day, switch off your computer. Tidy your desk and close the door.
This routine will become a daily habit and help with balancing your work time and home life.
Just as you would in a normal working week- you need to have clear boundaries between work time and home time.
10/ Get a good night’s sleep!
Worry and anxiety can often be a barrier to getting to sleep and having quality sleep.
The answer? Plan your bedtime. Make sure you have some downtime from work before you go to bed. Our brains are wired so that if they have been crunching numbers, solving problems and generally very active – they need some time to calm down.
Don’t eat rich foods or drink too much coffee after 8pm. And put down the Playstation/ social media feeds an hour before bedtime.
Have a regular time for bed! Whether you are a night-owl or rise with the lark, make sure you stick to a bedtime routine and go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Regular 7-hour sleep times will improve your mental health, make you more alert and more productive at work and at home!