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COVID-19: It’s homeworking, but not as we know it… Employee wellbeing is key

Staying and working from home for prolonged periods of time for many can and will be difficult, frustrating and often lonely. So with that in mind, our employment team share some tips on how to make the most of it.

In these rapidly changing times, levels of anxiety will be heightened due to the general uncertainty or uneasiness surrounding the question of continued employment. To retain levels of happiness, engagement, productivity and quality it is therefore clear that high standards of professional communication are required from employers and those within, whether via telephone, email, video calls or social media platforms. Keeping in contact and generally encouraging social interaction is key going forward, in whatever form, particularly in the first few days and weeks of these new / enforced homeworking arrangements.

Similarly, employees should know that they can reach out to their line managers or other support staff as and when they need to. Taking steps to care for people’s minds and wellbeing is just as important, if not more, as ensuring employees take care of their physical wellbeing.

Therefore, the following tips can be shared with your employees (deliberately drafted to be lifted from this article) to help them settle into their new routine:

  • Stick to the usual routine wherever possible. While there may be an advantage of not having to commute, try to start work on time as if you normally would, and finish at the correct time also. Not having to commute may mean an occasional lie-in, so take advantage, but avoid working a deliberately longer day.
  • When preparing for work, ensure that you get washed / showered and dressed in the usual way; don’t plan to lull around in your pyjamas all day. If there is a dress-down day throughout the week use it. Alternatively, try a dress up’day for a bit of fun. The important thing here is to have an “I’m going to work” mindset and dressing appropriately is important for this.
  • Throughout the working day take regular breaks as you would at work. In doing so, pick up the phone (or use another method of communication) to catch up with a colleague. Over lunchtime, make sure you move away from the workstation, and have a proper break doing what you want to do.
  • Eat and stay hydrated throughout the day. It can be all too easy to miss a meal, or a simple cup of tea, particularly when the office environment has previously lent itself to someone doing a tea round!
  • Establish your workspace as being your work space and nothing else. Don’t seek to work in bed or on the sofa. You will be more productive when working at a designated workstation. Try to create an at the office environment wherever possible, which may include working at a desk or at the dining room table; being sat up, with good posture, without the television on in the background will greatly assist, and help you leave it all behind at the end of the working day.
  • Get some fresh air throughout the day. Take a walk at lunchtime or get into the garden where you can. Open your windows for a blast of fresh air – weather dependent of course. Similarly, make a conscious effort to get up from your workstation throughout the day; stand to make calls, or otherwise take on board the various stretching exercises that can be completed in a desk-based environment (easily found on the internet).
  • Stay in contact with your colleagues. Treat the day as if you were in the office, being social with your colleagues as appropriate. Check in with your colleagues particularly if you haven’t heard from them; check that they are adapting well to their new working arrangements and support them if they aren’t in any way. Everyone is in this together. Place regular catch-ups in the diary and stick to them, particularly if you are involved in team-orientated tasks or projects.
  • Remain focused on the task(s) ahead. Creating lists of things to that need to be done in discussion with your line manager and colleagues will help. Even create lists for what you should not do, like watching TV instead of working.
  • Avoid distractions or the need to multitask with household chores. While there is nothing wrong with getting ahead at the beginning of the day (due to the lack of a daily commute) what may be a small distraction to start with could escalate into something more, which in itself could extend the working day unnecessarily. Try to be as productive as you can by focusing on your workload during your working day and keeping your home life separate wherever possible.
  • At the end of the day, check in with your line manager and/or colleagues. Update them as to what you’ve done throughout the day, and plan for the following day. This will help you ensure that the end of the working day is the end of the working day, so that you are not tempted to return to work throughout the evening.

Looking into the future, with the right attitude towards homeworking (and other possible flexible working arrangements), particularly in relation to employee wellbeing, from both employers and employees, we will hopefully see maintained levels of productivity, engagement, motivation and commitment from all.

In the meantime, let’s hope for good broadband connection.

Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

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