Sheri Hughes, UK director of D&I at Michael Page, shares how workers can be supported and manage their mental health while working from home during this pandemic.
Many people are increasingly worried about how to protect their work-life balance to ensure their mental health does not suffer during this time of crisis and with no official timelines for returning to the previous ways of working. To help those searching for a sustainable way of adapting to this new working arrangement and best manage their mental health, I have put together the following tips to improve mental health while working from home:
1. Have a designated area home-working area
If you have the luxury of multiple rooms in your home, then we’d suggest designating one space as a working area. However, if you live in a one-bedroom studio flat, this is not an option. In this instance, we recommend creating a temporary working space which you tidy away at the end of the ‘working day’. Ultimately, it’s important for you, and those around you, that your living area returns to your home at the end of the working day – even if this takes time to assemble and put away.
2. Create and stick to a routine
One of the simplest ways to ensure you have boundaries is to implement a clear schedule of times when you are working, and times you are not. Aim to log in and log off at similar times each day, so your colleagues and clients recognise the barriers in your life. But also remember to create a work schedule that works for you and those around you. For example, if you need to adjust your working hours to home-school your children, that should also be acceptable.
3. Take regular breaks and keep active
Remember to take regular breaks. In a usual working day, you will rarely spend eight hours glued to the desk. Often you will be working with colleagues in meeting rooms, spending time at the coffee station and having a lunch break. It’s important to remember this during your day while at home. Walk around your home once an hour to keep the blood flowing or go for your one piece of exercise at lunchtime. Also remember that Vitamin D is extremely important to keep your immune system functioning, so if possible, use these breaks to get some natural light and ventilation – perhaps near the backdoor, by a window or in a garden if you have one.
4. Prioritize healthy communication
Human interaction is a key component of everyday life, not just when working. Having conversations, rather than emails and texts, with colleagues and friends helps boost morale, productivity levels and general wellbeing. Therefore, consider switching your communication approach by using video conference call software or picking up the phone for a non-work-related chat. Interacting with others in these ways will help avoid the feeling of loneliness that isolation may create.
5. Don’t be afraid to talk
Outbreak or no outbreak, you should always feel like you can talk to your employer about how you’re feeling and share what’s on your mind. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed or experiencing levels of anxiety, mental health should continue to be the number one priority in any business and empathy is key. Just as you would find time to sit down physically with your manager, don’t be hesitant to sit down and put in a call to chat through your troubles and work out your concerns together.