The Covid-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives over the past few months. One of those changes has been the need for many people to work from home in order to maintain social distancing or the need to quarantine.
Although there are many benefits from working at home, continuing to do this over long periods, particularly if you are isolated, creates new challenges, such as, protecting your mental wellbeing and ensuring the safety of your home working environment.
Here are some tips to help you remain engaged and stay on track:
1. Set up a suitable designated work area
Though this may seem trivial, choosing a spot in your home that is designated for working is important to both support your health and wellbeing and increase the chances of a successful working day.
Choose a place that you can work from every workday. This could be a spare bedroom that you have turned into a home office, a desk located in the corner of the living room or even the dining room table. You should try to stay away from working in bed or on the sofa, as these areas could not only negatively impact your productivity but may affect your health.
Good practices include the following:
- Use a work surface, such as a desk or table that has space underneath for your legs and feet. Cushion your wrists from the surface edges with padding or a wrist rest.
- Be careful not to overload electrical sockets or create tripping hazard with power cables running across the floor of your home.
- Arrange your laptop or monitor screen directly in front of you and approximately an arm’s length away with the top of the screen at, or slight below, eye level.
- Organise files and materials so that you don’t have to constantly bend and strain to reach them.
- Sit in a sturdy chair, preferably one designed specifically for office work and that supports the curvature of your spine. Adjust your chair height to that your feel can rest flat on the floor and/or use a footrest. While typing, your arms should also be parallel to the floor.
Make sure your workspace functions efficiently for you and your work style. Treat your home working area as you would an office cubicle. Make your workspace a place you enjoy going to each day, an area where you can focus and do your best work.
2. Make sure your network and work programmes are protected
Working from home introduces another set of potential cyber security risks. Make sure you either speak with your manager or an IT expert about cyber security and strategies you can use for mitigating the risk of a cyber-attack while you are working from your home. You can add cyber insurance to most high net worth and mid net worth home insurance policies today to help you should you suffer a cyber-attack and separate cyber insurance cover is available for both homes and businesses. Ask RS Risk Solutions Insurance Brokers for more details by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 01342 580106.
3. Dress like you’re going to work in the office
The way you dress has been proven to affect you psychologically. This means that, although it may sound like a great idea to work from home in your pyjamas, it isn’t in reality. While you do not need to dress up in business formal attire when working from home, it is worth taking the time to get ready for the day as you would have done had you been going into the workplace. Aim to dress in casual not sloppy attire.
4. Avoid distractions and stay on task
Another challenge homeworkers face is that without co-workers or managers nearby, it is easy to become distracted and fall behind on work. Stay focused on work throughout the day and avoid online distractions as well. For example, limit the time spent on email, social media and websites unrelated to work. Setting a timer on your phone or computer may help. Try not to monitor business e-mails all the time – it is important to switch off.
5. Evaluate yourself periodically
To maintain effective home working, you may find it useful to conduct self-assessments periodically, which could include asking yourself:
- Am I maintaining a positive work / non-work life balance?
- Am I meeting all of my key deadlines and objectives at work and out of work?
- Am I feeling connected with my co-workers, friends and family?
6. ‘Work Well’ at home
Maintaining your mental wellbeing whilst working at home for extended periods is really important because your mental wellbeing plays a huge role in your overall health – it should be prioritised.
The following suggestions may help you maintain your mental wellbeing during a quarantine or working from home for social distancing purposes but should not be considered as medical advice. If you have concerns about your mental wellbeing, please contact your mental health professional and/or use the NHS webpage for guidance.
To ‘work well’ whilst at home, consider the following:
- Keep a routine – One of the best things that you can do to preserve your mental wellbeing whilst working at home is to stick to a routine. For example, if you’re used to going to the gym before work, try to wake up early and get an ‘at home’ workout in before you go to work or start your workday from home. Maintaining as much normalcy as possible with your daily routine can help keep you in a positive mood and prevent boredom and distress from taking over.
- Remember to take breaks when you need to – Just like you are encouraged to take breaks while you’re in the office, remember to allow yourself time throughout the day for quick breaks. If you need a short break to gather your thoughts, try walking around the house or down the street, stretching, or making a snack or meal.
If you need to take a longer break or socialise, plan time in your schedule for this. A major advantage of working from home is having flexibility. Before you take an hour or two out of your day, however, make sure to remain compliant with your employer’s policies.
- Get a good night’s sleep – This suggestion goes hand-in-hand with sticking to a routine. While you’re at home, it can be easy to go to bed earlier or sleep in later than you typically would. Breaking your normal sleep routine can have negative effects on your overall mental wellbeing, so you should try to stick to your typical schedule as much as possible.
- Spend time outside – Unless health officials give you explicit instructions to stay in your home, try to get outside periodically throughout the day. Be careful to adhere to the latest social distancing guidance. Being outside also helps to promote higher vitamin D levels, a vitamin the body makes when skin is directly exposed to the sun. Many people are deficient in vitamin D, so exercising outside can be a great way to correct that.
- Leverage the power of technology – When in quarantine or self-isolation, it can be easy to feel lonely. Fortunately, advancements in technology have made it easy to connect with others without having to physically be in contact with them. Public health professionals recommend reaching out to friends or family using technology to reduce feelings of loneliness and anxiety, and to supplement your social life while you are quarantining or social distancing. If you are feeling down, use video calling technology or social media to get in touch with friends, family and colleagues.
If you are concerned about your own mental wellbeing or someone else’s close to you, there are various support organisations available to help.
For more information, go to: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/