According to a new survey by Nuffield Health, 80% of Brits feel that working from home has negatively impacted their mental health. Over a third (36%) said that not being in the same physical location as their colleagues has left them feeling unable to take set breaks as they feel a need to always be available or at their workstation.
In June 2020 the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that 7.4 million of us have reported feelings of loneliness negatively impacting their wellbeing since lockdown began. 30% of people working from home also highlighted the issue of work/life balance, stating difficulties in separating their work and home lives.
27% reported difficulty in switching off at the end of the day and 34% believe working from home has put a strain on their immediate relationships.
Create a routine
The easiest change to make in order to feel motivated is to get into a routine. Throughout the work week, try to get up at the same time everyday and go to bed at the same time every day. This has a positive impact on getting a good night's sleep and how you'll feel in the morning.
If you're working from home and you have no scheduled video calls, then it can be tempting to stay in your pyjamas. However, if you get up, take a shower and get dressed, you'll feel a lot more motivated and less groggy.
Simple but effective. If you used to walk to work in the mornings, replicate it with a walk around the block. Or set 15mins of your lunch hour aside for a relaxing stroll. Taking in gentle exercise and fresh air means that the oxygen levels in your blood go up, circulating to your brain, helping you feel energised and it also lowers blood pressure.
Use music effectively to motivate you. If you had music playing in the office and it impacted your energy levels, then replicate it at home. If you are effected by things like tempo and volume, match your music to your task for maximum effect! If you live with others, you can always use headphones so they won't be disturbed and you can shut out unwanted noise.
10 minute rule
We often feel demotivated when we have to a task we don't want to. It's that thing you've simultaneously been putting off but also can stop thinking about having to do. If you're facing this scenario, implement the 10 minute rule. Tell yourself that you only have to work on the dreaded task for 10 minutes. Then, after the 10 minutes you can take a break and come back to it later or just continue on if you're in the flow.
In order to be productive you need a good workspace. Create a dedicated work area, if possible away from the area where you sleep, as having the two collide can cause negative associations. Set up somewhere bright and airy and make sure the set up is comfortable with a suitable chair and desk height. Make your workspace inspiring, with artwork or items that make you happy or promote feelings of drive and success.
You can't be productive with chaos around you. Many people are facing childcare issues at home and have partners or friends who are also working from home. To limit distractions and interruptions, you need to communicate with the people you live with about how you work. Discuss your schedule, each morning or once a week, so others understand your expectations or needs and also discuss how you can manage shared tasks.
Everyone works differently so create a schedule that works for you. If you know you are more productive in the morning, then schedule your harder/more demanding tasks then. Where possible, work in small blocks of time and take regular, set breaks so you don't feel overwhelmed.
Facetime and accountability
Remember you're not in this alone. Make sure you keep in touch with colleagues and your manager regularly. This allows you to feel more supported and part of a team, whilst also ensuring that you're focusing on business priorities. Where possible use video chat! Also agree any strategies for your workload with your line manager, including regular check ins and deadlines, so you can remain focused and accountable.
Where possible, include time in your work day (not on top of it) for professional development and training. Learning new skills or conversing with peers in your industry can inspire new ideas and boost productivity. Discuss online courses and webinars you feel are relevant with your manager and once completed, share your findings or new skills with your team.
3. Mental Health
2020 was a difficult year and even if you think you haven't faced as much upheaval as others around you, it's ok to not be ok. It's ok to acknowledge that you're struggling and that you may need help or support.
Be kind to yourself
Look for ways to be kind to yourself and promote positive feelings. Exercise, hydration, meditation, and even creating a gratitude list are simple but effective ways of promoting well-being and positivity. Recognise when you need some downtime and book some time off work to relax and regroup.
If you feel that you need more help, please speak with your manager (or a colleague you feel comfortable with) about how your employer can support you, or what professional help is available.
What's within your control?
The past year has had an impact of mental well-being in part because it's been just so unpredictable! With many things feeling beyond your control, it's common to have feelings of anxiety. Focus on what you CAN control instead. Think about positive changes you can make to how you work, to your living space or activities you can enjoy with immediate loved ones.
Learning to say no
If you feel tied to your computer or you're struggling with your workload, discuss it with your manager and sketch out new structures, support techniques and coping mechanisms. Just because you now work from home, doesn't mean your home is now a 24/7 office. Don't be afraid to say no, finish work on time or push back on projects that you feel would be overwhelming. Learning how to, and when to, say no is not a bad thing. Setting healthy boundaries is a good step towards overall well-being and self care.
Whether it's work colleagues, friends or family, try your best to maintain your connections as they can be a huge support. It's important not to become isolated, so even if you don't feel like having an in-depth conversation, it's good to regularly check in with the people in your life who can enhance your mood. They may also need your support!
Helping others is a great way to feel better in yourself. If you have some spare time, look for ways you can volunteer. This could be helping deliver items, providing friendly support for people who are alone or even offer your skills and experience to those who are struggling with something you're an authority on. Mentoring is also a great way to pass on experience and build confidence in others. You could also make, or do, something thoughtful for friends, family, first responders or essential workers.
If you are a manager or responsible for other colleagues, remember to check in and just ask people how they are and if/how you can help. There are lots of resources online and Mind offer a 'Wellness Plan' to help promote positive mental health and wellbeing. It includes advice and activities to identify areas where you may be struggling and actions you can take to combat issues.
Promote access to help
Resources should be readily available so that people can independently seek help as well. Create a dedicated area within your employee platform with resources such as links to support services, remote therapy options, tips and articles etc.
Here's a few links you may find useful: