Matt Lewis, Director of Hays Public Services, shares his advice on how to look after your wellbeing during COVID-19 and when remote working
The COVID-19 crisis has left most of the nation under lockdown. Of course, many of us have been left feeling worried or anxious about our own health, as well as the health and wellbeing of our loved ones.
However, it’s also had a huge impact on our professional lives. Many organisations are feeling the pressure, and employees need to be even more responsive, productive and effective. Yet this can prove challenging when we don’t have the ability to have quick face-to-face conversations with colleagues, technology isn’t always reliable and, for many, there are also the responsibilities of family life to consider.
During this time, it’s even more important to look after your wellbeing and ensure you aren’t overworking as our professional and personal lives blur more than ever before.
Maintain regular hours and routine
Humans are creatures of habit, so a regular schedule is important – set one, and stick to it. If you have been home working for some weeks now, it’s easy to let routine slip so try to adhere to your normal office routine as much as possible.
Prioritise the tasks that matter for that day
Be clear in your mind on what the key areas of focus are that day. Focus on these only, and communicate any urgent priorities with your team, ensuring they are realistic. This will ensure you’re all collectively working towards the same aim and concentrating on the right things, whilst also not being overwhelmed by the work needed to be completed in the days and weeks ahead. By keeping your task list to one day’s activities only, it will also give you a greater sense of achievement at the end of the day, making it more likely that you will log off at a reasonable hour and enjoy your evening.
Be a home worker, not a lone worker
Communication really is the key to not feeling isolated or alone. Try not to have too many lines of communication open, as this can prove distracting, and keep in touch at regular intervals throughout the day. Whilst most communications should, of course, be about work, try to begin and end the day with more personal conversations.
Maintain your physical health
Eat well, sleep well and exercise well – these are the three cornerstones of good physical health, and they should not be ignored just because you are working at home. There are plenty of at-home exercise tutorials online which cover the full range of ability levels – from the fittest amongst us to the athletically challenged – and serve as a great way to break up the day. Furthermore, don’t skip lunch and don’t compromise your sleep.
Try not to dwell on the negatives
You may be overworking to avoid paying too much attention to the crisis that is going on around us. So instead, try to focus on the positives in your life and what you have to be grateful for. Consider what you can do around the house that you’ve been meaning to get to or catching up with friends and family remotely. In short, there are always things that you can do to distract yourself and use your time in healthy and productive ways during this outbreak, rather than overworking.
Don’t let burnout impact your wellbeing during this challenging time
It’s easy to feel guilty if you aren’t working more hours than usual during the coronavirus pandemic. However, a feeling that you ‘need’ to work more right now can also be a slippery slope that causes you to venture into bad habits, such as overworking and putting your wellbeing in danger when you most need to look after yourself. It’s therefore important to have a sense of perspective and let go of the unrealistic expectations you have for yourself.
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