Working from home during lockdown

We’re living through the toughest of times and it’s hard on all of us.

Human beings are sociable animals and while many of us may work from home from time to time, being forced to do so for an extended period will be challenging, alongside the other restrictions we are now living under for a few weeks.

We can’t change or control what is happening at the moment and that can be frightening, particularly if we are physically isolated from our families, friends and work colleagues.

Here’s a few tips to help you through the next few weeks.

Limit news exposure

It’s great to live in an age where we are all kept up to date in the moment. But it can also have a huge effect on our mental health – constantly seeing headlines about illness and death, reading the opinions of a myriad of people – these can contribute to negative thoughts and anxiety.

My advice is to limit how often you look at news sites. I found that for me, limiting it to a couple of times a day and only to a couple of trusted news sites and the official government websites (NHS, Public Health England, Gov.org) has helped stop me catastrophising about the situation.

Routine

It’s important to try and keep in a routine while you are working from home, starting at your usual start time and finishing at your normal finish time. Whilst it can be tempting to continue working into the evening because there is nothing else to do, unless it’s required to meet client needs or you have urgent work to finish, try and log off and turn off your laptop. If you are not the only person in your home who will be working, discuss how you will physically set up your workspace and how you will manage issues like confidentiality and privacy in line with your company guidelines.

Take a break

It’s important to build some breaks into your day. Walk away from your laptop. Go outside if you can and feel the sunshine on your face. FaceTime a family member, friend or colleague for 10 minutes. Eat your lunch away from your laptop.

Have a social conversation with colleagues

Technology is brilliant and allows us to have meetings with colleagues and clients alike with ease. But what you might be missing are the conversations you have with colleagues in the office kitchen while making a cup of tea, or when you pop out to get a sandwich. Try and make sure you connect with a colleague socially once a day. Arrange a FaceTime call for 10 minutes or so where you can catch up on how you both are, how your families are, what you’ve been watching on Netflix.

Get outside

If you are able, ensure you can get outside once a day, in line with government guidelines, and get a bit of exercise. A run or cycle or even just a walk – don’t meet friends but download a podcast or put on some of your favourite music. The exercise and the Vitamin D will work wonders for you. If you have a garden or a balcony sit outside with a book or while you are calling family or friends.

Drink plenty of water

Keep healthy by ensuring you drink plenty of water throughout the day. It’s important to keep hydrated.

Exercise

As well as an outside session once a day, there are loads of online exercise classes and apps that you can do indoors. From gentle yoga to HIIT workouts, there will be something that you can do. I particularly like Joe Wicks – and he’s doing daily PE for kids at the moment too!

Breathing

When it all feels overwhelming, try this breathing technique. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Breathe in slowly to the count of 4, hold it for a count of 4 and exhale slowly for a count of 8. Do this five times.

When you’ve finished work for the day

If you have a separate workspace, close the door. If you don’t have a separate space, close down your laptop and put it away along with your papers. Make contact with family or friends if you can to check in with how you all are. There’s lots of things you can do with your downtime. Try not to spend too much time on social media. There are loads of films and box sets on TV. Read that book you’ve been meaning to get to. Sort out that drawer that you can never quite close.

If you’re struggling

Talk to your manager. Whether you are struggling with managing work along with family needs at this difficult time, or just worried about whether you can meet targets or deadlines, you need to ensure your manager knows.

It’s going to be a tough few weeks but we can get through it. Take care and stay safe.

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij
24 March 2020

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