Since we are all being encouraged to work from home where possible in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, we thought it would be useful to provide some tips for staying mentally healthy and productive whilst working at home.
It may be the first time that some people are working from home, so it can take time to find a place to work and there can be teething problems with setting up computers, internet, server access and so on. This can cause some stress and anxiety, but once this is sorted, you should be able to settle into your new workspace.
You should try to find a space in your home where you are able to focus on your work, away from distractions, to maximise your productivity and reduce stress. If you set up your workspace in your bedroom, it can make it difficult to separate home and work life and you may be tempted to just stay in bed in the mornings, so try to create your own ‘office’ if you can, even if this is just the dining room table!
Keeping your work area clean and tidy can also help to clear your mind and minimise distractions.
Once you have your workspace set up, another key aspect of working from home is that you need to be able to stay in regular contact with your colleagues. This is not just important for the purposes of completing work and assigning tasks for others, but also for mental health. As we move into this period of social distancing and isolation, many people will feel lonely, especially if they live alone, so a quick phone or video call can help to reduce this.
At Dolia, we’ve been using Microsoft Teams to keep in touch, having virtual meetings on video calls, screen-sharing, sharing files and messaging throughout the day. We also have phones set up at home so we can still take calls from clients, as well as getting in contact via email as we would normally.
There are plenty of other online tools out there that are good for remote working, such as Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp and Slack. Find the tool that works for you, and make sure that your whole team has it downloaded, to avoid anyone being out of the loop!
It can be easy to lose track of time when you’re working and forget to take regular breaks. Why not set a reminder on your phone to pause what you’re doing for ten minutes, grab a cup of tea or drink of water, and sit outside in the garden to get some fresh air? You could even go out for a walk (avoiding popular areas and keeping socially distant, of course) to get your daily exercise and gather your thoughts.
If the weather isn’t great, or you are unable to go outside, you could go to a separate part of the house to your workspace, open a window and stay there for the duration of your break. There are plenty of ways to exercise inside too, with more and more home workout videos appearing on YouTube. This may be a fun way to take your mind off work and stay mentally and physically healthy.
On your lunch break, you should try to eat healthily to improve your productivity. A healthy home-cooked meal prepared the night before is ideal. If you snack on junk food and takeaways, it can leave you feeling sluggish when you come back to work. The odd treat is fine, but it can affect your mood and productivity levels in too high quantities.
It’s a good idea to drink plenty of water too, to stay hydrated. If you are working with screens for most of the day, drinking water can help reduce headaches.
Creating a to-do-list or planning out the tasks you need to do at the start of each day can really help productivity. You may already do this at work, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do this at home. By prioritising tasks and planning what to do each day, it can stop you feeling overwhelmed, anxious and disorganised.
Why not plan out your evening too, so you have something to look forward to at the end of the day? It could be trying a new recipe for dinner, watching your favourite TV series, or playing a board game with family. We may not be able to go out as much at the moment, but we can still make time to relax at home.
I know it’s tempting to stay in your pyjamas, or only dress smartly on the top half, but you should dress as if you were going into the office! It will help you to get in the right mind-frame to work and allow you to take video calls at a moment’s notice.
Waking up about 45 minutes to an hour before you need to start work will give you time to get ready, have breakfast, do any little errands and focus your mind for work. It’s good to get into a routine, starting and finishing work at the same time you would normally, and going to bed early when you can.
Whilst we are being encouraged to help the people most vulnerable to the Coronavirus, such as older generations and those with existing health conditions, we must also remember those who struggle with their mental health. It’s vital to check up on colleagues, friends and family who have mental health issues, as well as your colleagues generally. You never know what could be running through their minds… Whether it’s worries about medication, feelings of loneliness, suicidal thoughts or panic and fear for the future, they will appreciate that you are willing to talk to them and support them if needed.
We recently launched our mental health campaign, #happyheads, and this focuses on nomalising mental health in the workplace. Now that the workplace has temporarily moved to our homes, we're having to be more creative and find new ways to support each other and improve our mental health. Find out more about campaign in our previous blog post.
If you are struggling with your mental health due to COVID-19, take a look at this information on Coronavirus and your wellbeing, written by mental health charity, Mind. It's also a useful resource to send to others you know who may need support.
Any Questions? Have a chat with us.