Working from home can be challenging, particularly in a stressful situation like the one our workforce is currently experiencing.
Here are some tips to protect your health and wellbeing during this time.
Start and end the day with a routine. If you always get up at 7 am, get dressed and go for a walk after breakfast, continue doing this. This helps to give you a sense of normality and keep you focused for the day ahead. This is also important if you have children in the house. Keeping the same routine is vital for them, otherwise, they will consider time at home as time off and not be motivated to learn.
Make sure you stick to your work schedule and don’t end up working longer and harder. Many people working remotely start to feel they aren’t doing enough or worry that others will think they aren’t pulling their weight. They may use ‘extra time’ saved on their commute at work to do more work.
If you save 3 hours on your commute, don’t use that time working. You may typically read, catch up with music or podcasts whilst on your commute. That shouldn’t stop. The journeys to and from work helps to create a transition between the two. By not commuting, the lines between home and work begin to blur and that can have a negative effect on your health and wellbeing.
You may not have the perfect workplace or equipment, but you can adjust your chair so your feet are flat on the floor, without uncomfortable pressure on your thighs. You can use a foot rest. Your lower back should be fully supported by the lumbar support in your chair. Ideally, you should have an office chair, otherwise you could use a cushion for lumbar support.
Find a space away from the main home area if possible and definitely not in your bedroom. Also, if you can, move your desktop to a place that has plenty of sunlight. Find spaces in your home where you can move around during the day, even if it just means taking a call from your phone somewhere other than at your desk.
Regular breaks and exercise
Every 25 minutes get up and stretch, go outside, go up and down the stairs, anything to move your body.
Taking breaks is good for your sanity and also ensures you are resting your eyes from sitting in front of a computer. You could schedule the breaks in your daily calendar to remind you.
We work much better work when we are focused on one thing. Move your phone out of the way. Get rid of all the apps that distract you on your phone or laptop. Write down three things you want to get done in the day.
We all need to talk to others and are used to chatting to colleagues in the workplace. If physical contact isn’t possible, use technology like Zoom or Skype (do this rather than phone – it's easier to see how someone is). Make sure your only contact with colleagues and management is not via email. Instant messaging systems are also a good way to avoid feeling isolated from work.
Managers - communicate with your staff
As managers, don’t be too task-focused. Ask how someone is and be really interested in the answer. Show empathy and be available. Check in with staff on a regular basis.
Managers - monitoring staff performance
Think about the nature of the job, the individual and your culture. Establish whether you need to measure and monitor hours, or output or both. It is important that people already enduring heightened stress at home should not be put under further pressure from work.
Keep your immune system strong
You can keep healthy by washing your hands regularly, getting enough sleep, eating well, and staying hydrated. Make sure your bedtime routine is the same as usual and don’t be tempted to stay up late.
Get out at least once, or ideally twice a day, for a walk, run or cycle.
Think about food preparation for the week. Have healthy snacks in. When you are working beside the kitchen, it is harder to keep a meal structure in place.
Limit media consumption
Avoid continuous exposure to news, media and social media that may trigger or elevate anxiety, stress or panic. Pick one reputable source of news. You could, for example, watch RTE’s Six One news every evening, keeping yourself up to date without feeling the anxiety of an overwhelming flow of information.