Our current status: working from home
During a period where more of us than usual may be working from home, with many UK employees forced into self-isolation, it is important for both employers and employees to take steps to ensure that the wellbeing and mental health of their whole team is considered during this time.
The latest from the Office of National Statistics shows that over 4 million people, or 13.7 percent of the UK workforce, already work from home. This is expected to continue to rise as digital communications advance and employers recognise the additional benefits of working from home.
How does working from home affect our mental health?
Whilst the positives of working from home appear obvious (reduced commutes, higher retention rates, improved morale and wider talent pools) the link between working from home and positive mental health is often overlooked.
Working from home can mean that your day becomes much more fluid. From the time between getting out of bed and beginning work to taking on household jobs during your lunch. It’s important to create some structure around your working day – even if it doesn’t always feel necessary.
Follow our top tips for better mental health whilst working from home.
Keep to your usual morning routine.
Whether that’s getting up for a run before work, having a shower, getting dressed, eating breakfast, or even listening to the news. Keeping a routine can benefit our wellbeing by managing uncertainty and reducing our stress levels. Even something as simple as getting dressed can help distinguish time at work and time resting or relaxing. Find a routine that balances your work and personal life and stick to it.
Set up a working area.
If it’s at your own desk, a corner of a kitchen table or a shared space in the living area – make time to create your own working area. This allows you to still be able to ‘go to work’ somewhere separate from those comfier spots that should be kept for leisure time. Whilst working from the comfort of your bed or sofa sounds appealing, it can make it harder to disconnect at the end of the day and fully enjoy our downtime. Read tips for creating your own space here.
Take a lunch break.
More than 1 in 3 UK workers don’t leave their desk during their lunch break. Without your colleagues around you it can be even easier to watch time slip away and forget to take your lunch. Get up and away from your laptop/computer/phone. If you can get outside – brilliant! Even a 10 minute walk is known to boost mood, productivity and creativity. If you can’t get outside (for whatever reason) it’s still important to switch off – read a few pages of your book, find a 10 minute yoga tutorial on YouTube, call a friend or family member who might also be working from home.
Stay in touch.
Time to ourselves may be one of the perks of working from home but as humans we need social interaction. Loneliness feelings of isolation can exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety, both of which have a negative impact on our mental health. Make sure to include regular team meetings as part of a weekly structure and, if possible, include as many calls as you can that have virtual face-to-face interaction. Check in on the wellbeing of your team and your colleagues more directly as well as alongside all the informal conservations that take place in the office – why not have a virtual tea break or catch up on the weekend just gone?
Another perk of working from home is that everything suddenly becomes much more accessible. The kettle and the fridge may now all be within arm’s reach. However, we know that staying active during the working day has numerous benefits for our mental health. If that’s better sleep, happier moods and managing stress, anxiety or intrusive and racing thoughts. Whilst it can be more difficult to be physically active if you are feeling unwell, Mind has put together 5 ways to get moving and feel better (with some additional tips for those under the weather).
End your day.
Just because you don’t have your commuting time at the end of the day, doesn’t mean that you should work through it. Set yourself an end time and stick to it – there is always more work that you could be doing, so don’t let yourself get into the habit of just continuing on. Remove the temptation by turning off email notifications and shutting down your laptop. We need time between ending work and going to bed to relax and give ourselves and our brains time to recover.
Share these tips with your employees to promote better mental health whilst working from home. Whether that’s ad-hoc changes, weekly updates or longer more uncertain periods – it’s important to look after our wellbeing and look out for those around us too.
Mental health, sustainability and wellbeing
Our Jump programmes engage employees, residents and students in sustainability and wellbeing. Raising environmental awareness and improving mental health in the workplace are two of the most important issues that we are addressing today. Head to our website to find out more about what we can do for engaging your people.