As someone whose career is built upon advising companies on flexible working strategies, the past couple of weeks have proved somewhat of a busman’s holiday.
With government guidelines triggering a sudden implementation of forced working from home, working life across the UK has changed dramatically forever and its happened virtually overnight.
“There are six key elements to optimal wellbeing”
Implementing remote working brings with it a whole host of considerations sprinkled with challenges and while the desk-based workforce settles into this somewhat alien new pattern for the foreseeable future, it’s important to place wellbeing at the heart of everything we do.
There are six key elements to optimal wellbeing and I recommend including these in your every day to help promote healthy practices in the longer term.
True connections are key to successful home working and often email is the enemy of healthy habits, think creatively about how you connect with colleagues, send a voice-note or a short video message, hold video calls rather than phone calls and try to avoid distancing through writing.
Hearing and seeing other people is vital to not getting too stuck in your own head.
Remember to be active, it could be a walk to the park, an early morning run or a home workout class. There are lots of great free classes available online, whether high impact is your thing, or you’d prefer yoga and pilates, just search and you will find.
It’s a great opportunity to share recommendations with colleagues too, build virtual communities and make sure you keep moving.
“Build virtual communities and make sure you keep moving”
Be kind to yourself, be kind to your colleagues. Make time for mental fitness as well as physical; reflect on what works for you and be sure to include more of that in your day.
Loneliness is an ever growing issue and the sudden feeling of isolation and uncertainty brought about more recently can be somewhat unsettling.
There are many great apps you can sign up to, YouTube meditation, and also lots of fabulous experts are hosting free short bitesize sessions from home right now.
Think creatively about hobbies and things you can do to break up your day and night, make your favourite recipes (if you can get the ingredients), check-in with old friends, look through photographs or take up a new hobby – the key is a mental switch off from your day job and some time for you.
“Be kind to yourself, be kind to your colleagues”
Being at home it’s really easy to fall into the habit of popping into the kitchen every hour to pick at a snack; think about planning your meals in advance, making sure you to take regular breaks as you would at work and add in variety too!
Always have a drink to hand, water is recommended but juices and hot drinks are good to keep you hydrated throughout the day.
Create a workspace within your home and consider this your office space, it might be a home study, the kitchen table, or a quiet space in your home. It’s helpful to have a place to go to for work and establish a routine.
Few people will have ergonomic desk set-ups in their home so it’s more important than ever to get up, to stretch and to move around every hour.
“Making sure you to take regular breaks as you would at work”
Technology is a saint and a sinner in equal measure, it’s essential to keep us connected but the most important thing is not to be always on.
It’s easy to get up, get online and then work, work, work without a break, or feel that you need to remind people you’re online to be trusted. Be kind to yourself and remember switching off is just as important as switching on right now; the world media is in overdrive and we need to create our own boundaries.
Choose what you read, when you read it and when you don’t and be sure to activate that flight-mode when required. Commit to when you’re going to log off and stick to it, you have cut out your commute time and once your day is planned you should have that time back to yourself.
“Be kind to yourself and remember switching off is just as important as switching on right now; the world media is in overdrive and we need to create our own boundaries”
“Commit to when you’re going to log off and stick to it”
The final and possibly most important thing for optimal wellbeing is a routine with some flexibility, many people create routines around going to and from work, dropping children off, caring for elderly relatives, going to the gym and those things might feel all at sea right now.
Try to set your alarm for the same time each morning, be sure to have breakfast and get yourself dressed in the same way you usually would and check in with colleagues for a virtual coffee.
My hope is that the coming weeks encourage organisations to think creatively about how, where and when their people work - implementing flexibility wherever possible and empowering people to choose the right place, for the right task at the right time.
We saw a sudden shift in London for the 2012 Olympic Games to allow people to work anywhere at anytime, just imagine where we would be now if that hadn’t just been for a few months!
“Implementing flexibility wherever possible and empowering people to choose the right place”