For those working at home, how can we continue to look after ourselves and others in these fast moving and uncertain times?
The number of people working from home is increasing in response to COVID-19, bringing additional considerations for keeping mentally and physically well. Many of our staff and associates work from home a lot and have shared some useful thoughts that we thought might be useful to share for those of you who may be working at home (many thanks to Rebecca Godar in particular for sharing these ideas).
Get up in the morning and do something for yourself with the time you would have been commuting - stretch, go outside, play with the dog or cat (other pet choices are available!). Revel in the luxury of not having to rush out the door; get showered and dressed, make the bed, eat breakfast. The day can seem really long, so take your time starting it.
Staying connected to others is very important when working from home – it can feel isolating. It can be helpful to log on/off at the beginning and end of the day with your supervisor and/or supervisees, including updates about what you’re planning for the day and/or you’ve been up to. By maintaining a regular routine and keeping up-to-date with your colleague’s activities and schedule, you continue supporting rapport and build a network around you.
Many teams are also using technology to aid this by connecting with one another via video calls, online group messengers and over the phone conference calls. Make sure to use technology and various communication methods as often as possible to stay in touch and feel connected with colleagues. People working in other areas and at home will want to talk to you. Make use of that, book calls for the times of day when talking to people gives you a needed boost – it might be first thing in the morning or after lunch. It can also be helpful to stay in touch with friends and family during this time.
Take breaks, just as you would in the workplace. You have a duty of care to yourself even if you are at home. Give yourself excuses to get up just like you would in the office and do not count eating at your desk towards your breaks.
It can be useful to make a list of chores and activities that get you away from your workspace and break them down into things that take 15-20 mins. Do one item on the list every two hours, or when you feel your attention start to wane. When you do, have drink of water and look out the window and/or go outside.
Going outside for a quick walk or run can also bring lots of benefits to you mentally and physically. If you can't go for a walk, open the curtains and look out the window for a few minutes, count the birds, note what has changed since yesterday, find a funny shaped cloud, anything that makes you engage with the world outside your house.
If you have a partner or family members at home with you, decide together which of those breaks are ‘me’ time and which are ‘us’ time. Decide on drinking and lunch making responsibilities - are you taking it in turns, or is it a group activity? Also remind your family members that you are actually in work.
Finishing the workday
Finish your work day on time as much as you can. Look back on your day and take note of what you have achieved and don't judge yourself for what you didn't. Have a ritual or routine that marks the end of the work day and stick to it. For example, if you don't have a specific work space, do pack all your work materials away at the end of the day.
We recognise that not all of these points will be transferable if you are grappling with childcare or other caring support. However, most importantly, ensure you are looking after yourself and those around you. With love from us at Research in Practice.