As a large percentage of us are now working from home and adapting our lives around recent rulings put in place by the Government to prevent the spread of Covid-19, we have been working with our people to ensure we all protect our mental and physical health and wellbeing.
Part of this has been about expediting our Employee Assistance Programme which we launched last month. This includes a 24/7 helpline providing advice and support on legal, financial, medical and other personal issues for team members who may be struggling at this uncertain time together with online counselling sessions.
There are many incredible benefits to living and working in the age of technology and for many who work from a computer, work can go on from home. However, being out of the office might lead to the norms of work disappearing. Here are some of the ideas we have suggested to our staff to help us all to stay safe and well, working from home, during this unusual period:
- When using computers, it’s important to take regular eye-rests, taking five minutes away from the screen for every hour of work. Regular video conferencing, instead of meeting people face to face, can place a strain on your eyes.
- Incorporating regular breaks during the working day provides time to recharge and re-energise the approach to a particular task or focus, leading to greater overall productivity. Continued focus on work without a break, on the other hand, has a negative impact on stress levels and can even impact on an individual’s immune system. At home and without a team around, it can be easier than ever to forget these practices. Remote workers are trusted to continue working as productively as they would in an office, but they also need to take responsibility for their wellbeing. This might mean setting a phone alarm once an hour to take that screen break. One idea for a break might be to walk around the block or a local park to get some exercise and fresh air. Even spending time in a garden or on a balcony can help you feel refreshed and sleep better come bedtime.
- Adopting an official start and end time to the working day when remote working is important to avoid work slipping into the evening which can be demoralising. It can also lead to a bad night’s sleep leaving you drained the following day.
- If possible, have a regular place you work – it could be a kitchen table, a desk or a table set up in a bedroom. Having a dedicated space means that work won’t leak into other areas of your life and you can walk away from it at the end of the day. It can also be useful if you have children who may interrupt you as you can ask them to be quieter around that area.
- Working from home may also deprive employees of their usual desk space and chairs. Bad posture, poor support, and uncomfortable sitting positions can all impede productive working. We have encouraged our staff to create spaces which will facilitate their mental health and work, ideally with natural light and comfortable seating. Keeping spaces clean and tidy is really important for mental wellness.
- It can be tempting to raid the fridge when you’re working from home but sticking to normal mealtimes and eating nutritious food will help you through this challenging time. Staying hydrated is essential too – a hydrated brain is a thinking brain.
- You may have grimaced at some of your colleagues’ terrible jokes but moving from a sociable office space to remote working can be incredibly challenging for many. Supporting teams by ensuring there are opportunities for video and phone calls rather than purely text communication can be very helpful for many. At Anabas, we have a ‘Friday social call’ where staff and their families can catch up. The power of being able to ‘see’ people shouldn’t be underestimated.
COVID-19 is a once-in-a-generation challenge for many businesses and for most workers who are used to commuting to their offices and spending eight or more hours with their colleagues before eventually going home. When we are able to return to our offices, approaches to working may have changed and some may realise that offices are poorly suited to their needs. It’s more important than ever to think about what creates a great working environment and to consider how we can improve our office spaces to create a new normal – and a better one – going forward.