Many businesses around the world had already embraced the idea of flexible working and working from home but I don’t think anyone was prepared for the new working life that COVID-19 has brought over the past month or two.
In an age where work and life need to integrate much more successfully, working from home can be a great thing, with many benefits.
However, there is no doubt we are dealing with a very different environment from what we are all used to. As well as the anxiety provoked by this virus and empty shelves in the supermarket, we are also facing the fact that many people are working from home for the first time.
Many parents are dividing their time between work and home schooling or paying attention to a young toddler. Couples are working side by side; flatmates are all at home at the same time trying to find a quiet room for calls or struggling with internet bandwidth, dogs are getting walked more than they ever had before and lawns are being mowed more often then ever.
The world as we knew it has been completely transformed in what feels like an overnight and we are all adjusting to a new way of work and life. Whether this is a long-term thing or short term (let’s hope short term), it is our new norm.
So how do we adjust to the new norm and keep our stress levels down, as much as we can do in a midst of a pandemic?
Take your lunch break and make the most of it
If the weather is nice think about taking your lunch outside, in your garden or walk around the surroundings of your home and make the most of the fresh air. Getting outside, even for a short space of time will help to clear your head. Take time to enjoy the outdoors and get re-energised for an afternoon or productive work.
Music is a mood changer
If you’re feeling stressed, listening to music can take your mind of work for a few minutes or more and help you to refocus. Quiet music throughout your day can also help reduce anxiety and encourage focus and relaxation.
Get work-life balance right
When working from home it can be difficult to separate home life from work. Try your best to plan a time to switch off completely. Remember, long working hours may be working harder but not better. If you don’t have a dedicated office at home for your work, make sure you close your laptop and switch after finishing your day, I’d even suggest packing it away into your bag until the next morning so that you are not tempted to log back in after dinner.
Start a To Do list
Writing a list of daily tasks, you want to accomplish. At the end of each day, go over your list and write up one for the next day, when your thoughts are down on paper, you’ll find it easier to focus on the tasks and avoid distraction. It also feels nice to tick tasks off your list at the end of the day.
Be deliberate about planning your wind down time
Remember most of your wind down time took place on your commute home and it’s so easy to log off your computer and go straight to the kitchen to cook dinner. Take at least 30 minutes out, when you finish work to read a book or listen to music or take a bath or go for a walk or meditate, something that will help you to wind down into your evening.
Connect with colleagues, friends and family on video
Social relationships are critical for promoting well being, especially in times of uncertainty and fear. Plan daily video calls with team members during your day, check in to discuss your concerns and ask how they are feeling also. Phone a friend or family member for a few minutes during your day or send voice messages to each other. At Thrive our old routine was gathering on a Wednesday morning in the office for what we call ‘Midweek Muffins’ a gathering of every department over lots of creamed and sugary treats. We have now made this a Virtual Midweek Muffins (VMM), to keep the social interaction only by video.
It's also important to see the faces of your friends and family. I suggest planning a quiz over a Zoom call or have a glass or wine or cup of tea or coffee together. Sit down and dedicate a time to visually connect with people, and, please try to avoid discussing Coronavirus, make it a rule! I promise you will feel better by doing this.
Exercise, no matter how strenuous, will have a positive effect on your mind. Regular exercise has been associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety and is essential for promoting well-being. Try to get at least 20 minute per day, this would be as easy as a walk or as intense as a HIIT workout, you decide what works best for you.
Joe Wicks is doing an absolutely amazing job in helping our nation keep fit and active. Check out some of his workouts here.
For people parents, check out the P.E. with Joe video below.
Take notice of your working environment
Your environment plays a big role in how you feel when working from home. Why not burn a candle or buy a plant for your desk at home? Also make sure you chair and desk are supporting good posture. The last thing you want are aches and pains for a poor working environment.
You may want to view Forbe's - 10 DIY Hacks to Improve your home office.
Make learning part of your to do list
Learning something new enhances self-esteem and helps overcome depression. Set yourself a daily or weekly goal to learn something new, it might be as small as doing a new crossword or reading a book you haven't got to or as big as learning a new language, but adult learning has been strongly associated with higher levels of well being so give it a go, it’s worth a try. It could also be nice to learn something new about a colleague.
Check out these learning offers that might be of interest:
- Nikon is giving away its photography course for free for one month
- Moz beginners guide to SEO
- Learn to play the guitar with Fender's free trial
- Yale is offering a free online course, the Science of Well-being
Lastly and most importantly – don’t be too hard on yourself!
The world we are in today is a new world for everyone, we are all in the same position and learning to adjust and settle as the days go on. Try to focus on the positives and do the best you can each day. You will have good days and bad day but hopefully by following the tips above more of your days will be good. We will get through this together and our future selves will thank us for staying calm and staying at home. #InThisTogether.
Written By: Grainne Elliott, VP of Marketing