Working from home is a very different experience to working in an office environment. Benefits of remote working include flexibility – not just in relation to when you work, but how you work – and teams are typically more productive. Home Working also cuts out the costs and hassle of the rush hour commute. This gives people more time to spend with their loved ones and on the activities they enjoy.
As advocates for remote working, we could go on about all its perks. But these are unusual and uncertain times for everyone.
Now more than ever, it’s easy to feel isolated when you’re working from home. Most offices have closed for the lockdown. COVID-19 restrictions limit our ability to socialise both inside and outside working hours. That’s why, for this week’s blog post, we’ll be sharing our best remote working tips which focus on mental health and physical wellbeing…
Have a routine and stick to it!
If you’re working from home, it’s very tempting to roll out of bed at the last minute and sit at your desk all day in your pyjamas. At this point into the lockdown, you may be wondering if it’s worth even leaving your bed at all?
There’s many reasons why this isn’t a good idea. Even if you don’t have any Zoom calls scheduled for the day.
You need to have a clear divide between work and personal time. Setting up a routine helps you to establish this.
But sticking to a routine can be difficult. A recent survey found that 30% of remote workers have been finding it difficult to separate their home lives from their work lives, with over a quarter admitting that they found it difficult to switch off at the end of the day or week.
So you need to be strict with yourself. We recommend that you wake up at the same time every day, eat breakfast and use what was once your commute time to do de-stressing activities, like reading, exercising or listening to music.
At the end of the work day, shut down your computer and stop checking your work emails. It’s important to have a good understanding of what is considered “a work emergency” and what can be picked up again tomorrow.
If you do need to work a string of late nights and early mornings to meet a deadline, please allow yourself time to rest afterwards!
Set up a dedicated workspace.
As well as a workday routine, a dedicated workspace is also important for your physical and mental health.
Your workspace should be away from any distractions, such as television and snacks, and have everything you need (okay, maybe just one or two snacks…).
Making sure your workspace is well-lit and appropriate office furniture is also important for your health. This NHS article shares advice on how to sit at your desk for better posture and to relieve back pain.
Take regular breaks.
One of the biggest myths associated with working in an office is that everyone can work from 9 to 5 with only a one hour lunch break. In some offices, this has been polished down into a meagre 45 minutes.
We think that this is absolute nonsense (we can’t use the word we actually want here).
Regular breaks are vital for managing stress and improving focus. Now that you’re working from home, you can schedule short breaks throughout the day without the excuse of making a coffee or smoking a cigarette. 5 to 10 minute rest breaks every hour is what health officials recommend for people working with screens.
If you’re feeling less productive and more stressed during lockdown, know that you’re not the only one. Be kind to yourself. If you’re not making any progress with your work tasks, set a timer for 20 minutes, do something de-stressing, and return to your desk with a refreshed mind.
Regular exercise isn’t just for your physical health. It can perk you up when you’re feeling down, as well as improve your concentration when you’re struggling to focus.
You’ll be moving about a lot less if you’re working from home. But it’s also easier to do short bursts of exercise. There’s no colleagues around who’ll give you weird looks for doing star jumps or push-ups next to your desk. Unless, of course, you do it in the middle of Zoom call with your camera on…
Walking, running and cycling are great outdoor exercises to do on your lunch break. If the weather’s bad (as it often is for our Scotland-based team), there’s also plenty of free online resources for indoor exercises, such as the NHS’s home workout videos and YouTube fitness channels like POPSUGAR.
As bleak as things may be, many of us are fortunate to have access to technology which allows us to socialise virtually.
Regular human interaction is important, even for the introverts among us!
You might be missing out on the office’s social environment by working from home, but you can still arrange online get-togethers with your team. What about a virtual coffee break? Or other online workplace social events, such as starting a book club or quiz nights? Did you know Think Zap had a virtual Christmas party last year?
Don’t forget to check in with your colleagues too. Many of them will be feeling just as isolated and stressed. It’s never been more important to support each other!
Find new ways of working.
Whether you’re permanently or temporarily working from home, it’s important to recognise that it’s an adjustment.
There’s many articles out there which explore the long term impacts of the coronavirus and how the world of work may change forever. If we look towards the future, keep an eye out for new technology and tools which support remote working as well as employees’ wellbeing, we can make sure that the world of work changes for the better.
For example, the mental health charity Mind, recently released a Wellness Action Plan you can download here. Please let us know by commenting below if there’s any other tips or tools you’ve found useful in relation to mental and physical health for remote working.