Given the rapid change to working practices due to the Coronavirus, many members of the Jamat will have found themselves working from home (WFH). This can be a jarring experience and difficult to sustain over the medium to longer term.
AKEPB has prepared this comprehensive best practice guide to help make the transition to remote working, or WFH, as seamless as possible. This is one of a series of best practice guides for WFH and includes:
- Working From Home Guide - Remote Working Tools & Software
- Working From Home Guide - Remote Working Practices
- Working From Home Guide - Ergonomics
- Working From Home Guide - Mental Health
Taking care of your mind as well as your body is important while working from home. You may feel bored, frustrated or lonely. You may also be worried or anxious. It is important to remember that it is OK to feel this way and that everyone reacts differently. It is also important that we recognise how it may affect our mental health and ensure we are taking care of ourselves and our colleagues.
Here is some practical advice to help ensure you are able to take care of your mental health and those around you.
Click on the section headings below to jump to the section that you want to read about first.
Follow a Structured Daily Routine | Balance Out Your Work and Personal Spaces | Communicate Regularly, Openly and Honestly | Slow Down and Be Mindful | Create a Team Wellness Action Plan | Further Reading
Follow a Structured Daily Routine
Start your day with a simple yet important task - get ready and dressed. The very act of putting on your day clothes will bring some normalcy to your day, putting you into a ‘work’ mindset and will kickstart your work routine.
It is vital to eat regular meals, get a good night's sleep and exercise as physical habits feed into our mental health. Make these basics a priority in order to reduce stress and keep us healthy.
Have a set routine of waking up at the same time, planning your working hours and making sure you are taking breaks away from the screen.
Add structure to your day by setting 3 main goals of what you want to achieve to help you keep focussed. Set healthy boundaries on what you can achieve in your day and learn to say no when you feel overstretched.
Ensure you eat a diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and water and that you eat your meals at an appropriate time and for a good 30 minutes, away from your work area.
Break up your day by doing some stretches at home or if able to, have a short walk in some fresh air outside to keep your mind stimulated.
Do make sure to finish your work and switch off at an appropriate time to avoid burn-out.
Balance Out Your Work and Personal Spaces
Create a designated work space that is tidy and away from distractions. Our working environment can greatly affect our mental health, especially when we are working from home.
An open and bright space with natural light that is away from comfort spaces such as the bedroom and lounge, will help retain a separate space for relaxation after working hours.
Background noise such as relaxing music instrumentals or podcasts, can have positive effects on mood and mental health. You can try Youtube, MyNoise.net, or Noisili.com for sounds of nature in the background, or imisstheoffice.eu to generate office sounds on loop.
Plan rewarding activities for after work to look forward to such as movie night with popcorn perhaps or a chat with a friend. This will keep you motivated during your day.
Communicate Regularly, Openly and Honestly
Working remotely from home can feel like an isolating experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Do schedule regular daily check in chats with colleagues via online virtual tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams or Zoom - whatever works for your team.
There are many wellbeing team activities that can be done virtually to bring a bit of joy and laughter to your working day and time for a news-free chat. Try an ‘afternoon tea call’ with colleagues where you enjoy a cup of tea or coffee together over an activity. This could be showing and describing a painting in your home or a funny childhood photo. You could even do a treasure hunt with your team, hunting for something purple or an object in your home you can balance on your head. You may well learn something new about your team-mates in the process.
Acknowledging how you are feeling, whether it’s work related or not. Share your stresses or concerns with a friend, manager, colleague or someone you trust. This can really make a difference to how we process our emotions.
Research shows that mindfulness can reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression and can have a significant impact whilst working remotely. Slow your tasks down by completing one at a time. The demands of work can make it challenging to stay attentive, making us feel overwhelmed or rushed. Try not to feel guilty if you do get distracted. Simply draw your attention back to your task.
Take 5 minutes to meditate, practice deep breathing with a slow exhale or pay attention to a task you may be doing. Notice how your hands feel around a warm drink or listen intently to the sounds of birds and nature outside. This helps to calm our mind, reduce distraction and quieten the thoughts that create noise in our minds.
Consider writing your thoughts or feelings on paper to help your mind to problem-solve and release difficult emotions. Keep a note of your working style and what challenged you in your day. This will provide insight into how you could improve your working pattern.
Create a Team Wellness Action Plan
MIND, the mental health charity, has created a valuable resource called a ‘Wellness Action Plan’ (WAP) for employees to use, especially whilst working remotely.
In their words, “WAPs are a personalised, practical tool we can all use – whether we have a mental health problem or not – to help us identify what keeps us well at work, what causes us to become unwell, and how to address a mental health problem at work should you be experiencing one. It also opens up a dialogue with your manager or supervisor, in order for them to better understand your needs and experiences and ultimately better support your mental health, which in turn leads to greater productivity, better performance and increased job satisfaction”.
You can find more information on creating a WAP through the MIND website.
- MIND Wellness Action Plan download
- MIND Coronavirus: supporting yourself and your team
- MIND & The Royal Foundation Working well from home under self-quarantine for coronavirus
- NHS Mental Wellbeing While Staying At Home | Every Mind Matters | One You
- Mental Health Foundation Looking after your mental health while working during the coronavirus outbreak
- Mental Health UK How to look after your mental health while working from home
- Leapers The Leapers Little Guide to... Working well from home under self-quarantine for Coronavirus
- GitLab Combating burnout, isolation, and anxiety in the remote workplace
- MindTools Mindfulness in the Workplace
- Real Business Mental health and COVID-19: How to stay safe and mentally balanced