Recently we ran a webinar on whether we’re really looking after our wellbeing while working from home. Most of us have had to make the sudden shift to working from home. For some of us, working from home or working remotely may be normal, but for the majority of people, this has been a big change — a change that will take time getting used to. Working from home can bring up all kinds of anxieties, whether it’s thinking “am I doing enough”, the lack of social interaction, the inability to switch off or the added stress of having to look after your kids whilst trying to balance work. A United Nations report suggests that even though remote working can offer a good work life balance, 30% of employees who work from home regularly reported high levels of stress compared to 25% of office workers.
However, there are other things you could be doing to look after your wellbeing. According to our expert panel in our webinar “Are you looking after your wellbeing at home?”, there are a few things you could do:
Check in with yourself
Often when we have teams working from home, we want to make sure that they are okay, and doing well. You might get employees coming to you for help on a number of issues that they are dealing with. Often this can often become overwhelming, and you forget about looking after your own wellbeing too.
According to Natasha Wallace, Head of Wellbeing at Clear Review, your initial response to the current pandemic situation could take many forms and you need time to process what’s going on. It may be natural to try and come to the rescue for everyone, but you have to think about yourself too.
“Some of the things that I’ve seen come up is this thing of hero mode. It’s part of human nature to want to get things under control and want everyone to be okay. We go into this hero mode and become strong for everyone else. But that can be a very unsustainable strategy. If you are the one trying to be strong for everyone else, who is going to be strong for you? The downside of the hero role is that you put so much pressure on yourself that you set unrealistic expectations on yourself.”
A good way to deal with this might be to have signposts in place, so that if your employees need resources and guidance, they know where to get them from.
It’s no surprise that staying connected is a big concern for many remote workers. According to a 2015 Euro report, the most problematic parts of mobile working is the feeling of isolation and lack of access to the information sharing that takes place in a place of work. Furthermore, 62% of remote workers want their employers to provide better technology to help them stay more connected with their colleagues. This can be easily resolved by having regular video calls and catch ups in place through video conferencing tools such as Google Hangouts or Zoom. However, it’s important to remember that everyone should be responsible for this, not just HR.
Beth Samson, OD and People Advisor at Investors in People explains, “Often HR are given the responsibility of all the ‘people stuff’ but connection can be worked on by everyone in the organisation. At Investors in People, we’ve created a rota to make sure that everyone has at least one person to ask them how they are doing and feeling. It was done organically and proactively by employees and not driven by HR.”
However, some people may stay connected better than others. At times like this, it’s important to reach out to those who have been quieter to make sure if everything is okay.
James, founder of Sanctus says, “In terms of reaching out, I’ve experience it in different ways. My initial response was to reach out and check in with people more than normal. Other colleagues and friends have gone much quieter. If someone is quiet, it’s a sign there is something going on for them. They are going to be less likely to check in on other people and offer support if they are feeling unsupported themselves.”
Separate home and work
One of the biggest issues with working from home is the lines between work and home become blurred. Often people struggle to switch off and end up working until much later than if they were in the office. Research suggests that 22% of telecommuters say that “switching off” after work is their biggest challenge.
A good way to combat this issue is by creating a separate space for work. If you have a spare bedroom, make that into your office space. If you don’t have much space to set up an office, there are other things you can do such as switching off your notifications at a certain time.
A lot of the time, it’s hard to switch off because you’re thinking about all the things that you need to do the next day. Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind suggests a different approach:
“The main thing I feel worried about is always being on. Home and work life are blurring, and the current situation has kicked it up a gear. At the end of my day, I refresh my to do list for the next day before I shut off. By doing so, that’s one less thing I’m worried about.”
How to support yourself
There are lots of things you can do to support your wellbeing and most of them are free! Some people try to do some exercise, yoga or meditation. But sometimes this might not work for you. It’s important to try different things and see what helps your mental and physical wellbeing.
James from Sanctus talks about how many of the things that can help our wellbeing are already available but going out there and reaching them is harder because of what it might bring up.
“To reach out to a friend and say you aren’t feeling good is actually hard to do. These options are there, we just have to grab them…It’s free to call a family member or friend and let them know you aren’t doing great…Connection is important. I connect with myself through meditation and journaling. Journaling and writing stuff down for example is free. It can feel daunting at first, but it’s there and its available to you.”
It’s also important to share with your colleagues and friends how you are looking after your wellbeing. For example, if you meditate regularly, sharing how you do it might push other people to try it.
Emma Mamo says, “Where people do know bit more about mental health, share what you are doing and encourage others to think that through.