The winter months are drawing closer, bringing with it the cold and the dark morning and nights.
This sentence alone is enough to put a frown on your face. Imagine what it will feel like when you are stuck in your small spare bedroom, looking out the little window onto your street with not much else to keep you company, other than next doors cat sitting on your car.
Add to this the growing concern of local lockdown restrictions, redundancies, relatives falling ill, schools being off and Christmas just around the corner. It's all adding up to a great amount fo stress.
And what happens when we feel a lot of stress? We ignore looking after ourselves because we're so focussed on surviving and any habits we had towards a healthier lifestyle go out the window.
It's at this exact moment in time, though, that we need to be focussing on looking after ourselves more than ever.
And it's at this moment in time that your staff need some guidance and reassurance.
So what simple things can you do to support your staff whilst they're working from home?
1. Check in on them - a lot.
Some people need to be communicated with everyday, others every week. If you haven't got the time to be deciding who needs contacting and when. Then always lean towards over communicating than under.
Things are changing everyday. Our moods are changing everyday. Sometimes all it takes is a quick phone call to one of your colleagues to say "Jane, listen. I was just thinking about you and wanted to give you a quick call to see how you're getting on? What do you need from me today?"
That will take a couple of minutes of your time and could mean the world to the person on the other end. This small effort can also help you to spot warning signs before they become a bigger problem.
** Another handy tip - It doesn't need to be a Zoom call either. Preferably a phone call rather than a text. But anything is better than nothing.
2. Help people to develop a morning routine.
When we are at the office, there's an engrained routine that normally takes place. You know what time you have to get up. You know what time you have to shower and get ready. You know what time you have to walk to the train station or get in your car etc etc.
At home - it can end up being a free for all.
"I have to be on a call for 8:30?" - No problem, I'll roll out of bed at 8:15, throw on a suitable top, sort my hair and jump on the call. Working from home is great!
Although it's not, because it will breed terrible lifestyle habits if we aren't careful. When we have no routine, or nothing to get up for, we will fall into a cycle of randomness.
Help you staff to develop a routine in the morning that gets them out of bed at the same time each day and gets them moving and psychologically ready to focus on work.
It's important - it's not just a fad that you see from Linkedin influencers.
We work better when there's a routine.
3. Have a specific start & end time to your day.
The clear lines of when work started and finished have been replaced by a messy smudge.
It's now more common for us to start a little earlier, work through our lunchtimes, and do a bit more work after hours because of all the other demands placed on us during the day.
This is a nice slow rollercoaster towards burnout.
The clear boundary of work finishing used to be when we walked out the door, arrived home and got out of our work clothes.
Now it's leaving the spare bedroom and walking downstairs. That's not a clear boundary.
Previously if you had a bad day at the office, you would be able to forget about all of that when you walked through your front door.
We can't create that sort of boundary when working from home. But we can be strict with when we turn on our laptop and when we close it at the end of the day.
We can also get changed into "work clothes" at the start of the day and out of them at the end. Signalling to the brain that it's time to relax. Encourage your staff to create these boundaries for themselves.
4. Mix up your meetings between video and phone calls
I don't know about you, but I hate Zoom/ Teams/ Skype meetings. I'm done with them. Give me someones face with a mask on from 2 metres behind a glass screen any day of the week.
But, this is the world we live in right now. It's not always possible to have that.
But ask yourself, does EVERY meeting we have need to be done on video?
Can you not mix them up with some phone calls instead?
Here's the beauty of dong a few phone meetings - you can do them whilst you get out for a walk and exercise. Considering you don't need a load of resources with you, of course.
5. Break up the day
When we first entered lockdown in March and we were granted an hour of exercise a day, we all cherished it. It helped keep the nation sane and stopped our mental health from declining.
Now though many people have started falling back into old habits of working through their lunch breaks, or staying inside the house and not getting out.