Over the last few months, millions of people’s working lives have changed significantly. The emergence of COVID-19 has brought enormous social and economic changes to almost every part of society. For many of us, changes in work locations, guidelines, and professional expectations have created new challenges. This short guide will share some tips to help employers and employees adjust and thrive through these uncertain times.
Tips for Employees
IT and Technology Tips
For many employees forced to work remotely due to national lockdown, IT and tech are a lifeline. That said, for older and less tech-savvy professionals, adjusting to online working practices can be challenging.
If you are finding it difficult to adapt to online work, the following tips may help:
- If you’re struggling, ask for help from IT staff or tech-savvy colleagues. Additionally, try to use the IT equipment provided by your employer. It’s a lot easier if all staff use the same hardware and software to streamline communications and work-related activities.
- Utilise online training to educate yourself with new skills. Websites such as Udemy, Stackskills, and Coursera provide thousands of courses across hundreds of topics. Youtube also has some great educational content available for free.
- Use video conference calls whenever possible; this personable approach is great for team morale and communications when working remotely. Keeping up communications can avoid the sense of isolation and confusion for remote workers. If videoconferencing is not possible, Whatsapp groups and video calls are an alternative option for checking in with colleagues and management.
- Designate specific channels and groups for work and try not to mix them with personal communication channels. Keeping the balance between work and social will help you to manage your time and know when it’s time to ‘switch off’, ultimately helping to avoid burnout.
Setting a Remote Working Routine
Just like bad habits, good habits are easy to pick up. A well-structured remote working routine can help you to boost productivity and avoid procrastination.
That’s why you should consider:
- Allocating a room or an area of your home as a ‘workplace’. Make sure it’s quiet and distraction-free.
- Set a work-from-home routine with a regular starting time, breaks, and finish time. This is important for accountability and to avoid working non-stop.
- As tempting as it can be to work in your pyjamas, try and get dressed for work. If you dress appropriately, you’re more likely to be motivated and retain good working habits.
- Set clear tasks every day; software such as Asana can help you to check off tasks and schedule reminders for important milestones or deadlines. If you’re struggling with concentration, try the Pomodoro timer to designate blocks of working time and breaks.
- Try and spend at least 30 minutes a day outdoors if you can. Fresh air and exercise are great for both your mental and physical wellbeing. Air out your house every day, or consider using a portable conditioner.
- Consider using a work diary or Google Calendar to keep track of appointments and clearly define times that you will be available for work-related activities.
- Additionally, you may wish to use Evernote to note down any struggles on a daily basis. You can address these points with management when you have your weekly catch up call.
- At the end of a working day, pack away all your working equipment, and leave your designated working area. This is a fantastic way to help separate work from home both physically and mentally.
Tips for Employers and Business Leaders
- Share official advice from reputable sources such as:
- Schedule regular check-ins with managerial staff to make sure they have all the information they need to support their teams.
- Acknowledge any uncertainty and offer all employees a channel to voice their concerns. Regular communication can help staff who are struggling to adapt. Try to manage all policies with consistency, transparency, and authenticity.
- If any of your staff are struggling with their mental health, provide support or access to support via counselling or other appropriate alternatives.
- As the lockdown period progresses, previously undisclosed mental health issues may become apparent for some members of your team. These should be treated with compassion and respect, adjusting schedules, and providing support wherever necessary.
- Make sure that all employees know where to go and who to talk to if they are struggling. For any mental health champions or first raiders, make share they have access to the latest training and education in line with the current circumstances.
- Promote best-practice use of professional communicative software and technology. Make sure that staff are differentiating between persona and professional communications channels. Also, consider investing in online team-building exercise and personal development. Don’t forget to introduce all new staff across all virtual channels, send out virtual ‘happy birthdays’ and morale-boosting messages when required.
- Encourage self-care and personal planning for staff that are self-isolating. You may consider implementing a virtual book club, or a creative challenge to keep your team busy and motivated.
We hope that you’ve found the tips in this mini-guide to mental health and remote working informative and wish you all the best in your future endeavours.
Photo credits: Coworking London