Working from Home - By Charlotte Santiago
Working from home has quickly become the norm overnight in NZ since Covid19 hit our shores on 28 February 2020. How are you dealing with this new normal? See our tips below!
Our new normal..?
Remote work or working from home has become the norm overnight for much of New Zealand's workforce since NZ activated the COVID-19 Alert Level 4. Working in this way for more than three days a week can lead to an increase in mental health problems - and your workers may need support.
Social isolation, loneliness, anxiety and fear are major psychological risks when working from home. Remote work also risks harming our behaviour and impacting our physical and psychological health as a consequence. Hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who are now attempting to work remotely are surrounded by family members, isolated from their colleagues, or isolated completely. While we may believe that this is a temporary state it could in fact trigger an evolution of the workplace with organisations seizing the opportunity after the crisis. How organisations and their workers recognise the challenges and the benefits of managing their workload, while being at a distance, will be a key factor in maintaining the motivation, objectives and health and safety of the organisation in this uncertain and unprecedented time.
Tips for mental health:
1. Define your workspace at home
The spaces we occupy shape who we are and how we behave. This has serious consequences for our psychological well-being and creative performance.organise and optimise that space in the most beneficial ways possible.
2. Maintain a personal routine similar to your usual day at the office
Be disciplined. It is important to cultivate strict routines or working hours, but also be kind to yourself. Wake up at your usual time and go through your usual routine.
Dress properly. Do not wear pyjamas. The way you dress can influence your mood and attitude, so dress in proper work attire.
Set work hours. Working from home allows for flexibility, but the start and end of your workday should be as routine as possible. Enforce a hard stop at the end of the day, and plan for personal errands after that. Setting a target end time will dictate expectations and increase productivity.
Keep in touch with people Working from home can be lonely, so do plan virtual coffee breaks with co-workers. Keep talking to people so you do not feel isolated.
Share your work with colleagues This can be done remotely (whether standing or sitting). Just maintain the essence of keeping it short, and keeping team members accountable to one another in their respective tasks.
Have breaks during the day and exercise
Any activity during a period of confinement requires a well-deserved break. Go out and breathe! Moving and stretching your body energises the brain. Endorphins are produced when exercising, which increases happiness and interest levels.
Adopt a positive attitude Avoid watching or reading the news during work hours.
In a pandemic situation, reading dozens of articles on the Coronavirus is not necessarily a good remedy for anxiety. Instead, during your breaks practice guided meditation for positivity.
Tip for parents
Keep children in your plans. Due to school closure, children may also be around at home. Plan and schedule some activities to occupy them while you work.
lunchtime strategy to spend time with children; for instance, one partner can have a lunch break from 11 am-12 pm, and the other breaks from 12 pm-1 pm, so 2 hours are spent with children.
This can be positive!
Working from home is great for work-life balance. It increases ownership and performance. It trains people to be focused and disciplined.
Everyone’s situation is different in terms of home environment, personality and habits. My advice is to ignore any tips that clash with your personal beliefs. Tailor the most effective way of working for you and keep practising until it becomes part of a lifestyle or culture.
Maybe once your new way of working has been established it might be hard to go back to the old ways!