With many of us removed from our usual office environment, this has impacted greatly on our mental health. While on the surface, it may appear that we are all now what we would call ‘remote workers’, in fact that what we are starting to see is a trend of adaptable working.
From the job role itself, to the individual recruited and the structures surrounding the role - remote working is very much a choice in the hands of employers. The current pandemic has led companies and their employees, in some cases literally overnight, to rapidly react and embrace the implementation of remote working. So if you are finding this change a rather overwhelming one, the challenges you are facing are very normal.
I believe now is the time that we need to welcome change and embrace the switch. When thinking of the future of your workplace, and as the UK government gradually starts to loosen terms around lockdown, with the social distancing guidelines soon to apply to our offices and schools, many are finding that their existing spaces are simply not big enough to hold their previous capacity.
The question no longer appears to be “is remote work here to stay?” but rather, “now that remote working has become the new normal, what does this look like for me?”. After all, home working setups and the flexible working patterns that come with it is nothing new, it was just never on the grand scale that we see it today.
A taste for remote working
Buffer’s most recent report on the State of Remote Work engaged with over 3,500 current remote workers to uncover insights on the benefits and the struggles that come with remote working.
The survey has run for the past three years, and there is one statistic that remains unanimous every year: remote workers want to continue to work remotely (at least for some of the time) for the rest of their careers. What’s more, once people get the taste for home working remotely, 97% of those surveyed would recommend it to others.
To get an idea of how this trend is reflected in our world, I caught-up with a couple of Sesame colleagues to understand their experiences at work through the pandemic.
Here at Sesame, our Training & Competency managers have always been setup as remote workers. Hayden Gargiulo let us know that although there are several benefits to working from home, with no commute and productivity levels are high, the pandemic has caused even remote workers to embrace a new normal.
For Hayden, adapting communication style presented a possible challenge that he hadn’t previously needed to consider:
“I did initially worry that conducting meetings via video conference would be a challenge for all parties,” he commented. “But actually I have found these to be almost as effective as face to face meetings.”
But of course, home working does not come without its challenges, and these do vary from person to person. With a large majority of the Sesame team setup as office workers, like many, most of us are used to the commute, accustomed the 9-5, and are familiar with the physical separation of home and work life that comes with an office environment. With that in mind, the new way of working has come as a culture shock to some.
Stephanie Egan is one of our full time Group Operations Officers, and since lockdown has found herself juggling many a distraction at home with four children under the age of 15, who now look to her for entertainment and home schooling, all whilst still getting the job done.
Steph said: “To be honest for about a month or so I suffered in silence, as I thought ‘everyone else is in the same boat – just keep going Steph’. However, having four children sat at the dining room table for hours a day constantly asking for help with their work was becoming more and more of a challenge.”
Steph needed a strategy to cope. For this, she realised she needed to look to her team for support. . Since April, Steph has worked with her manager to implement a flexible working pattern that enables her to home school her children with no work distractions, and vice versa.
Focusing on what we can control
Remote working is not for everyone and having to embrace any sort of change often comes hand in hand with a wariness of adapting to something new.
However, in the state of a global emergency, the pace of change was quickened through necessity, and it’s vital for our mental wellbeing that rather than focussing on that which we can’t control, that we shift our mindset and focus on that which we can control.
I wanted to share a few tips I’ve been working with that could help keep your mental health in check and help you remain effective at work:
Focus on yourself
Use your previous commute time for something productive which focuses on yourself - from journaling, to reading, to meditation. Pick something that will motivate you and get you ready for the day, even if it is just 10 minutes
Separate work and home
Create a dedicated workspace and ensure this is set up for working. We are not all that lucky to have a home office and your posture can have a huge impact on your mood – from low self-esteem and reduced energy. Good posture can increase your confidence, alertness, awareness and so much more. Check out The Muscle Therapies top posture tips at home: https://www.instagram.com/p/B-Kx_zjBt-u/
Check in with your teammates, keep collaborative, keep communicating. We are all in this together and support with a simple ‘how are you?’, and appreciation for a job well done does wonders for yourself and others motivation
Breaks are essential in helping you to de-stress and re-charge, and can help improve your productivity, mental wellbeing, and overall work performance. If you find this difficult, I find myself setting ‘break alarms’ in my phone to ensure that adequate time is spent away from my desk. I treat these as if they are meetings for the day, in which I simply just cannot afford to miss!
I am lucky with this one, as a body building athlete this is already encompassed into every single day for me. Exercise naturally releases endorphins - a walk may be better for you than a nap for boosting your energy levels and fighting fatigue. Try to put aside at least 30 minutes a day to blow those cobwebs away.
And remember, above all, we are all individual and how we embrace and react to that which is happening around us differs from person to person.
To support you further, don’t forget as a Sesame member you now have access to free, impartial health and wellbeing support from the experts at Care First. Head to Sesame Online to find out more.
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