Since the pandemic reared its ugly, intrusive head back in early 2020, homeworking has become just one of many new normals. According to finder.com, 60% of the adult population worked from home at the height of lockdown. They suggest that 26% of Brits plan to work from home in the future (permanently or occasionally).
The RSPH (Royal Society for Public Health) ran a survey earlier this year and found that people who switched to working from home as a result of Covid-19 had experienced health and wellbeing impacts, with the most common being feeling less connected to colleagues (67%), taking less exercise (46%), developing musculoskeletal problems (39%) and disturbed sleep (37%)
In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week, a focus on homeworking and transition to remote working is of the utmost importance. With that in mind, I thought I would share some of my homeworking survival tips with you.
It’s just too easy to stay at home and field your Zoom meetings in a formal shirt and boxers. That said, it is far more beneficial to you to emulate an existing routine – this includes getting ready for work in the same way you always have. Now, I am not saying that a full face of makeup or shaving your legs is of paramount importance. Changing out of your pyjamas and into some comfortable loungewear or ‘home clothes’ will help to give you a sense of ‘going somewhere’ other than your home office. (It’s also helpful to be dressed and ready for a lunchtime walk). And yes, in case you wondered, Yoga leggings count.
I am a pedantically organised person at the best of times but establishing a routine as if I were going to the office is an integral part of my day. Waking up, going for a run, eating a nutritious breakfast, getting dressed for my working day, and then taking 5 minutes before I start work to breathe is a surefire way to set me up for a productive day. Put together a schedule that works for you and your working day – try to include some acts of self-care in that schedule.
It can be challenging to go from seeing and chatting to your office friends and colleagues daily to no interaction at all at home. Fortunately for us, software like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Whatsapp, and Slack all stepped up to the homeworking party. Make use of these tools available to keep in contact and check in with your office family. Weekly team video chats and informal Whatsapp groups can be a great way to keep it familiar without keeping it too formal. Our team looked forward to our weekly team huddles and fortnightly check-ins throughout lockdown to brilliant effect.
Switching off is probably one of my own biggest struggles when it comes to remote working. Having a computer or laptop at home and 24/7 internet access can all too often lead to unconscious overworking. It’s just too easy to open up your emails a little earlier, skip your lunch altogether and continue replying to emails well after the end of your working day. Routine becomes key in avoiding the tendency to overwork and under rest. Setting alarms/reminders or blocking out time in a calendar is a good way to remind yourself to go on lunch or switch off for the day.
Switching off brings me nicely to the subject of getting active and getting outside. It’s no secret that irrespective of where you are working, sitting at a desk for long periods is not healthy for your body (or your mind). Regular breaks away from your desk – thank you to my Apple Watch for the stand reminders – and lunchtime walks will do wonders for your physical and mental health. A 30 minute walk around the block is all you need to change your scenery and breathe some fresh air, giving you a renewed sense of purpose and productivity on your return. (There is a reason that Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 is Nature themed – connecting with Nature does wonders for Mental Health.)
Music is good for the soul. When was the last time you listened to the radio or streamed your favourite album outside of the car/commute? Having the radio playing softly in the background is an essential part of my working day and goes a long way in promoting additional movement. I am, after all, home alone and can therefore sing and dance along to my heart’s content. Chair dancing is ALWAYS recommended.
This one is a little trickier if you don’t have the space to do so. Creating a work area for yourself can give you the feeling of ‘going to work’ and helps prevent you from sofa surfing. Sitting in an office chair instead of being slumped in an armchair is far better for your back and posture. Ideally, it is best to avoid blurring the lines between your relaxed spaces and your workspaces. Working in a designated area keeps work as separate as possible from home life.
You can follow all of these survival tips and more and still have days where you may feel lonely or isolated. Reach out to the people around you, to your colleagues, your employer, your friends, and your family. It’s likely that if you are feeling this way, others around you digitally are as well. If you need to, reach out to a local Mental Health charity or your GP for qualified help.
Though working from home is not some people’s first choice, it is becoming a popular one. Of course, we miss the human interaction element to the office environment but it is also important to recognise all of the positive aspects of remote working; I don’t think I have ever been more productive.
The Bright Click are a team of remote working employees who, despite the distance between us, still feel like a family.
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