As more of the UK is in lockdown and more of our employees are working from home, employers have a key responsibility in continuing to look after the wellbeing of staff.
While remote working is already commonplace in some businesses, for others it will be a complete departure from the norm. Employees who are unfamiliar with the concept may struggle with being isolated from colleagues, while managers may have concerns about how to performance manage people from a distance and keep productivity high.
1. Maintain regular hours and routine: Humans are creatures of habit, so a regular schedule is important – set one, and stick to it. If you are new to home working, try to adhere to your normal office routine as much as possible. Get up, get dressed and ‘arrive’ at your desk 5 to 10 minutes early to go through emails and create your daily task list. Then, when the working day is done, log off and focus instead on your personal activities to avoid burnout.
2. Create a comfortable and clutter-free workspace: Even if you aren’t lucky enough to have a study space or spare bedroom with a door, you can still create a work ‘zone’. Keep it free from clutter and away from household paraphernalia – this will help ensure you are not distracted by children or chores when you are working. Try to only work when you are in this space, creating a physical and mental boundary between your work and your personal life.
3. Be a home worker, not a lone worker: Communication really is the key to not feeling isolated or alone. Work out how you would like to communicate with colleagues, try not to have too many lines of communication open, as this can prove distracting, and keep in touch at regular intervals throughout the day. Whilst most communications should of course be about work, try to begin and end the day with more personal conversations.
4. Face-to-face is still best: Wherever possible, communicate with your colleagues via video chats. Face-to-face conversations help you feel more connected and are typically more engaging than conference calls. There are a wealth of technologies available to help facilitate this. Just remember to check you’re dressed appropriately and your backdrop is acceptable to ensure you’re comfortable with what your co-workers will see on their screens.
5. Take a break: Like any working environment, it is important to take the occasional break to let your brain and body relax. Take a 10-minute walk, make some lunch or catch up with a friend over the phone. Short breaks will help give you the ability to refocus on your work tasks – ultimately supporting both your productivity and mental health.
6. Maintain your physical health: Eat well, sleep well and exercise well – these are the three cornerstones of good physical health, and they should not be ignored just because you are working at home. There are plenty of ‘at- home’ exercise tutorials online which cover the full range of ability levels – from the fittest amongst us to the athletically challenged – and serve as a great way to break up the day. Furthermore, don’t skip lunch and don’t compromise your sleep.
As a manager, have you thought about ways to recognise the work your employees are doing and ways to thank them, they will all be feeling out of the loop, may be isolated so ensuing they know their work is appreciated will be key to keeping them motivated, remember to share with your teams.
Finally and most importantly, your employees must not at any time feel they are alone and have no one to talk to regarding any concerns they have with work or with any anxiety they are having over the pandemic. Does every employee have someone (maybe not their Manager) who they trust and feel comfortable confiding in? If not the below resources can help:
NHS 111 helpline