Guidance for Employees Working from Home
Looking after your own wellbeing is about the mind and the body; staying healthy includes putting in place both physical and mental measures. As we navigate the journey through COVID-19 and the uncertainty that this brings, it has never been more important to be mentally and physically healthy.
It takes time and energy to look after yourself and others, but it is time well spent – just a few minor changes can make the world of difference to how you and your colleagues are feeling.
Use this guide as a handy reminder of the things that keep us mentally and physically prepared for the daily challenges that we face when working from home.
|1. Create a Routine||6. Have a Balanced Diet & Healthy Lifestyle|
|2. Design your Workspace||7. Accept Distractions Will Happen|
|3. Manage your Own Expectations||8. Manage your Hours|
|4. Communication||9. Take Time to Relax & Keep Active|
|5. Take Regular Breaks||10. Example Daily Plan|
Create a routine
For some of us ‘working from home’ is totally new and let’s be honest, it can be hard. Create a routine early on – it’s the only way. Keep your work life organised and a healthy divide between work life and home life.
Your routine could be as simple as ensuring that you set your alarm, or that you that follow your normal morning routine as if you are working in the office; not forgetting the importance of having breakfast.
It can be beneficial to go further and make your lunch in the morning and prepare your snacks. An easy way of avoiding skipping meals and reaching for the biscuits.
Design your workspace
In an Ideal world this will be a separate place in the house, but we have to be realistic and work with the space that we have available. Ensure that your space is organised, and you have all the equipment and stationary items that you need to hand. Avoid clutter and set up your equipment to avoid physical strain (refer to our document on setting up your workstation).
Check your workstation regularly to avoid bad habits creeping in, using the guidance provided on how to set up your workstation; and don’t forget to complete your DSE risk assessment.
Manage your own expectations
In theory, this should be great – working from home. The reality can be somewhat different, and the transition can take some getting used to. For some of us we are also juggling having the children at home too, and the prospect of supervising their online school work.
If things are unsettled for a while, give yourself a break – the new normal with come, it just takes time. The time will vary from one person to another so, try not to compare yourself to others who appear to have everything under control – the reality is not always as it seems.
This is probably the biggest challenge that teams face when remote working and the area that is the most essential for our wellbeing, and that of others. Be prepared to check in with your colleagues as frequently as possible.
Think about getting 2/3 of your colleagues on a conference call at tea break time or virtual tea breaks on a video conferencing tool. We have never been better prepared as a nation to keep in touch – now let’s use the tools effectively.
Celebrate success, however small, with the team – it’s not bragging, it’s encouraging others to do the same. Positivity breeds positivity and every talking point should be exploited to its full potential. Take the time to appreciate every single win.
If you haven’t heard from someone in a while, check in with them – see if they are OK. A good sign that someone is struggling is reduced communication. Take the time to look after each other and help others beat the isolation. If you are struggling, ask for help.
Take regular breaks
Never before have taking breaks been so important. Working life has changed dramatically and very quickly. So, don’t forget or feel guilty about taking a break
You don’t have to have to leave the house, you can break the day up with household chores just as long as you are taking time away from your screen – giving your body a chance to readjust to a more natural position.
No matter what you choose to do, try to take regular screen breaks and Stretch throughout the day. Take a clearly defined lunch break and move away from your workspace.
Also aim to have a break of 5 minutes an hour away from your screen.
Have a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle
Try to eat regularly and healthily, ensuring that you drink 2 litres of water a day. As an alternative to your usual tea or coffee, why not try a herbal tea or hot water with a slice of lemon.
Don’t forget to get a good night’s sleep. Not getting enough sleep can leave us unproductive the following day and for prolonged periods, a poor sleep pattern will affect resilience and mental health.
Accept that distractions will happen
Don’t beat yourself up if pets or children distract you for a while – it will happen. Deal with the distraction, reset the calm and then continue.
Manage your hours
Let’s talk hours, for the first time we are being encouraged to fit our work around our lives. Many people are now going to have children and home and additional schooling responsibilities as well. But, a warning, it can be too easy to work consistently and that is not good for your well-being. Work should supplement your life, not consume it.
Take time to relax and keep active
And, most importantly, take time to relax and engage in activities that you like to do. Maybe spending time with your immediate family (not friends at the moment!), put some music on or practice some mindfulness – there are lots of apps available for you to try.
Or just go for a walk – it’s a beautiful world – be curious, indulge your senses and observe what is beautiful or unusual in the world. Being aware of your thoughts and feelings as they arise, without getting lost in them, can improve your well-being.
If you prefer to stay inside (or there are further restrictions placed on movement), you can include some movement from home, put on a workout DVD, get sweaty with the housework or put on some music and have a dance. Exercise will help you to feel more awake and alert, and your concentration and sleep will improve.
Make your own schedule
Use the template below to make your own schedule
|Wake Up Time – 7.00AM||Set an alarm, have breakfast and get dressed. Keeping your usual routine helps you click into ‘work mode.’ Not forgetting that first cup of coffee or whatever drink helps get you started.|
|TOP TIP – Getting Prepared||A little addition to your normal routine. Set up your work area. Make sure that your equipment is all switched on and your pens and stationery are available. Start the day organised.It is a good idea to prepare your snacks and lunch too. Not only will this enable you to keep focused without the additional distraction but, can make sure that you eat healthily and don’t just reach for the biscuits.|
|Start Work||Ensure you have all the equipment you require and are sitting in a comfortable position. Refer to our guide on how to set up your workstation.Set yourself 2/3 daily goals – things that you are going to achieve. It can be very easy to work on many different tasks and not complete any of them. Work SMART.|
|To Do List||Write yourself a to-do list and work on things when you are most productive. Have a schedule and stick to your list. Use timers or reminders to limit screen time or manage your productivity.|
|Tea Break (e.g. 10.30AM)||It’s time for a break and a well-earned cuppa (maybe try a herbal tea) and to check in on what others in your house are up to; or make a call to a colleague for a quick ‘hi, how are you.’ Just a quick 10-15 minutes to give your eyes and brain a recharge.|
|TOP TIP – Maintaining Contact||It’s vital to maintain outside contact and social interaction and we have never been better prepared for this. Use apps, video conferencing, telephone etc to vary the medium of communication.|
|Lunch Break||Many of us skip lunch when in the office, but now more than ever this break is important. Get away from your screen, refresh yourself or use the time to complete household chores.
Make sure you eat enough throughout the day not forgetting those important 2 litres of water.
|Tea Break (approx. 3.00PM)||This is the perfect time for some outside time. Spend some time in the garden, take a walk round the block, or throwing a ball for your dog (if you have one – a dog that is, not a ball).|
|Finish Work||Before you leave your working day to switch back into you time, look back at what you achieved during the day and spend 5 minutes thinking about tomorrow’s agenda. It is time to switch off.|
Incorporate the following into your schedule:
- Break up long spells of work with rest breaks (at least 5 minutes every hour) or changes in activity
- Change position regularly to avoid awkward or static postures
- Get up, move about, do stretching exercises
- Avoid eye strain by regularly changing focus and blinking