April is Stress Awareness Month and during these unprecedented times, the advice offered could not come at a better time. Many of the nation’s employees now find themselves in the unusual position of working from home while self-isolating or observing strict social distancing.
For the majority, the ‘home office’ will be a new and potentially stressful concept, especially for those who have children at home, and are taking on the role of ‘teacher’ alongside ‘professional’.
Those who thrive on the buzz of a busy office and those who usually seek reassurance from their colleagues may also find it hard to adjust to solitary working. Many will simply be missing their morning chat about what they watched on TV last night or the humdrum of making a round of teas for the team.
For all of us – including the Bond Williams teams (we’re all remote working too) – working from home will feel strange for a few weeks until we find our new rhythm. To help you keep on top of a fresh set of daily stresses, we’re bringing together the most useful advice and tips for our army of home workers.
The stress management basics apply more than ever during home working. Remember to:
Being isolated from colleagues can exacerbate feelings of loneliness. Thankfully video conferencing will keep you connected face-to-face – Microsoft Teams, Skype and Zoom all have free basic versions. Use the ‘gallery’ setting so you can see everyone dialed in at once and check for screen sharing functions to aid brainstorming sessions. Also set up a WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger group as they’re a great way of sharing lighter moments, memes and fun videos – essential for keeping morale high and banter flowing.
Follow an ‘office day’ structure
A lack of boundaries can hit productivity levels, leading to work stress. Try and replicate your office hours by starting at a set time every day, ensuring you have a coffee break and lunch, and clocking off as per usual. It’s worth communicating your plan to others under your roof so they are aware of boundaries and therefore minimise interruptions. Keep on track by asking for a daily job list from your line manager – with deadlines – so you can plan your day with structure.
Here are some other tips for staying as stress-free as possible:
Complete the most pressing and urgent tasks first
Save challenging tasks for when you’re most alert – perhaps first thing in the morning
Use an app to track how much time you’re spending on social media so this doesn’t drift upwards
Check in with colleagues and your boss by email with questions and when a task is complete
Keep kids occupied
With schools closed for all but key workers’ children, many homes will be filled with small people and professionals. Your colleagues and clients will probably be in the same situation – so you’ll be cut plenty of slack. Limiting disruption is key but there are some great strategies. Creating a snack box at the start of each day is a good idea as children can eat everything in the box without interrupting to ask permission.
Save screen and TV time for when you need to concentrate most or dial in to a video call – making it clear you’re only to be disturbed for emergencies. Small people, however, aren’t always respectful of boundaries – especially if you don’t have a dedicated home office – so warn people at the start of a call that there may be little visitors asking questions.
Keep rational and in control
Covid-19 has aroused feelings of stress and anxiety in even the most laid-back of people. Minimising risks and being rational, however, will go a long way to keeping focused on work and fears in check. The following should help:-
Follow official Government guidelines on isolation, social distancing and essential travel
Maintain high personal and domestic hygiene standards
Only read official Government-issued news on Covid-19, as fake news is usually alarmist
Keep the number of positive Covid-19 cases and deaths in perspective
Limit exposure to social media, as unverified speculation can cause panic
Don’t be frightened to seek help
Many mental health charities and support organisations continue to work during the Covid-19 crisis. These include:
Don’t forget, Bond Williams is fully operational and many businesses are finding there is an increased need for temporary workers. Please do get in touch if you’d like help with any staffing or recruitment matters. Stay well!