The coronavirus outbreak has meant major life changes for many, including learning and adjusting to new ways of working. Whilst we have seen a shift of people returning to the workplace, many still have a hybrid approach to work and some are still completely remote. Whilst working from home has provided many advantages to an employee’s life, it is important to acknowledge the challenges that some face and how an employer can help with these.
Working from home means that you gain an extra 8 days every year (on average) by not commuting, which can now be spent in other ways such as reading a book, going on a walk and just taking time to yourself. However, many remote workers have commented on the lack of routine that comes with working from home. Without a clear schedule in place, the lines drawn between work time and personal time can become unclear. It is important that when working from home, you try and follow a routine that works for you. It is also important to remember that these routines will be different for the individual. It is easy to feel unmotivated when you do not have a work routine, but something as simple as getting out of your pyjamas first thing in the morning can help you set up your day. Many employers have shifted to flexible working, where employees still produce the same level and amount of work, but not in the rigid traditional working day schedule. It is hoped that such flexibility provides a balance where outputs are the same (or higher) for the employer and that the employee has the set up that best suits their individual needs.
In relation to the blurred lines of work and social time, it can also be harder to give yourself a break when working remotely, leading to stress. The majority of people log on earlier when working from home and can easily end up working through their lunch breaks. It is important to give yourself regular breaks, not only from your work, but also from screens. It is shown that taking a break every 50-90 minutes, even if it means just getting up from your desk, stretching your legs and getting a glass of water, can help boost productivity and improve creativity. If you work in an environment where frequent breaks are not possible, just making time for yourself during the working day is important to help manage the feelings of stress.
Boyes Turner recently announced they are encouraging all employees to take a weekly well-being hour to spend doing something of their choice to boost their mental well-being. Not only does this build and help sustain high employee morale, but it allows all employees to recharge and be in the right head space to do their jobs.
Whilst working from home has been praised, there have been more reports of people experiencing loneliness. During lockdown, our eyes were opened to how important small human interactions are, for example the small conversation at the kettle between meetings, passing a colleague on the stairs that you have not seen this week, discussing the upcoming work socials. It is easy to fall into the habit of not leaving the house when working from home, simply because you do not have to. However the impact of no human interaction can be significant. At Boyes Turner, one solution we have in our team is that we are encouraged to have ‘walking meetings’ where instead of sitting on a call with our team, we all go out for a walk to discuss our weekly agenda. Not only does this encourage getting outside during your working day, but it also allows all colleagues to stay connected.
These times create uncertainty for everyone, and it is important to recognise that things may still not yet feel normal, and that is okay. Finding what routine at home works for you and employers who support this is key. Remember to also be compassionate with those who are working from home (they probably are experiencing the same feelings as you), celebrate the little wins and always find time to yourself.