Having all been told to stay home, to go outside only for food, health reasons or essential work and to stay two meters away from other people, for many of us, regular leisure and social activities (the ones that enable us to maintain positive mental health), are no longer be available to us.
We are all having to adapt quickly to a new rhythm of life, a different way of keeping in touch with the people who matter to us and new ways of working, and because our brain interprets all change initially as a threat, for some of us, this will have an impact on our mental wellbeing, which will inevitably impact our ability to keep focused and remain effective.
This is especially true for those of us that need to continue to work, perhaps with higher pressure and increased expectation than before, but from home – particularly if we’ve never had to do that before.
Whilst for some, working from home might seem like a desirable option, the reality is that in many ways it can be more challenging than working from an office and that’s because working from home is a skill and like all skills, we need to learn how to do it.
There are many benefits to working from home:
If you’re a regular employee: you get to skip the daily commute and associated pitfalls and avoid the office distractions for the day.
If you are an entrepreneur: you have no travel as well as reduced overheads and perhaps a more congenial working environment, simply because you get the chance to create it yourself.
Working from home has it’s downsides too.
Firstly, it can be lonely
One of the biggest factors that drives us to work (aside from the income) is our need for social interaction.
It can be lonely without our colleagues to banter with and overwhelming not to be able to share the burden of problem solving and decision making.
We may not fully appreciate it, until we don’t have it, but a lot of casual collaboration can occur in a collective work environment and whether it’s overhearing a conversation or being involved in an impromptu brainstorming session that gets you unstuck on a problem or project, there’s a lot of value in being around others, especially those who have the same ultimate goal that you do.
It can also be more challenging to prioritise tasks and/or maintain focus without the sense of accountability that comes with working with others around us.
It is human nature to let ourselves off the hook sometimes and for many of us, being around others who are working hard is necessary to keep us inspired and motivated.
It’s also not always true that working from home means less distractions.
Whether its the sheer volume of cold calls, the postman, home deliveries, or just the pile of washing or ironing that is forever in sight, it can be challenging to maintain focus and for many, now there’s the challenge of having our partners and/or children at home 24/7 and we dare not mention ‘home schooling’ (shh!!)
In short, it takes a bit of thought, planning and work to create the right conditions to keep healthy and effective when working from home, which is why we’ve put together these six areas of consideration to help.
Our six areas of consideration
Preparing yourself psychologically is important
Create a space that is conducive to working, away from the main living space, but avoid the bedroom.
Make sure you have a supportive chair and
if you don’t have a desk specifically for working, adjust the height of your keyboard and monitors using books.
Think about natural or quality light, good airflow and get yourself a plant.
Movement stimulates blood flow and improves mental clarity
Make sure you move your body every
25 minutes or so.
Stand up & shake your body, sit back & stretch your limbs, do star jumps, or plank.
Go for a cycle, run or walk around the block, or garden, put some music on and have a dance, or even just walk up and down the stairs
Discipline is key to effectively working from home
Establish a routine.
Decide what it’ll be and mirror your normal work routine as much as you can:
If you usually arrive at your desk at 8:15,
do it at home and if you usually catch
up with a colleague first thing, do it by phone.
Get dressed as normal and check in with colleagues at the start of the day just like you would normally.
Our brain/body needs regular breaks to rejuvenate
Step away from your work station completely after 90 minutes of work.
Make a cuppa or a glass of water, check
in with a colleague or a loved one, step outside for some fresh air, go for a walk
and connect with nature, take some
Do something non-work related for
What we put in our body determines our
Avoid sugar and stimulants that are known to both destabilise blood sugars and stimulate stress hormones.
Feed your body with unrefined, unprocessed whole-foods and hydrate it with plenty of water.
Consider batch cooking, so that you have
healthy options to hand.
Humans are predisposed to living and working together
Recognise that positive interaction and connection is essential for the human species to survive.
Don’t underestimate the potential negative
impact of isolation.
Whilst you may need to be physically
isolated, psychological and emotional
connection is essential.
Use use technology to keep in frequent
touch with people.