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Tips on looking after your wellbeing whilst working from home

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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.

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Stay­ing connected

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. 

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