At Pro-Group, we are doing everything in our power to ensure that our employees are looked after from all angles including financially, mentally, emotionally, and physically. But it has to come from within. You have to want to live a more stress-free and calmer life and have a safe place in which to do so.
When I need a moment to de-stress I walk into my garden, I look at the flowers, the grass, the toys, the things the dog has chewed and think to myself... "there is so much I need to do to this" - haha! I jest but it's so true, our daily life, running a house, running a job, running a family...it can be very demanding and it's not all calm walks through cottage gardens for most of us!
With a focus on wellbeing at the forefront of all of our minds in the past 12 months, we have decided to partner with Luminate to host a series of internal webinars to better equip our teams with practical tips, advice, and support on maintaining good mental health wellbeing. With April being National Stress Awareness Month, this month we explore ways of managing stress.
Research shows that employees who work from home may experience more of a blur when it comes to work and personal life boundaries, and many struggle more with the concept of unplugging and ending their workday compared to those who work in an office setting.
41% of employees who more often worked from home vs. on-site considered themselves highly stressed, compared to 25% of those who worked only on-site. 42% of those who work from home report frequent night waking, while only 29% of office workers reported the same.
Of course, there are plenty of perks of working from home (goodbye commute!) but stress, anxiety, loneliness, and uncertainty have played their part. Here are some of our tips to ensure you take care of your stresses and mental health whilst working from home.
1. Set a routine you can stick to
Whether you set your own schedule or have specific hours that you need to be working, creating a routine can help you focus better on the tasks at hand, making your day feel more manageable and productive.
- Set your day up in blocks. This makes your day more manageable and task-driven, allowing you to accomplish what is needed at specific times.
- Eat that frog. Tackle you’re most complicated tasks in the morning, which will set you up for the rest of the day.
- Set regularity to your normal routine, wake up at the same time, set aside a lunch break and regular breaks in between.
2. Create a dedicated workspace
Even though it may be tempting to curl up on the sofa with your laptop, try to create a dedicated workspace where you can solely focus on your job. Creating specific work and personal life boundaries, even if you're just using a small corner of your home, can help you mentally shift from home life to work. It may also help you leave your work "at the office" once you're done with your day.
3. Take regular breaks
Now that you’ve broken your tasks into smaller and more manageable steps, you need to ensure that you’re rewarding yourself for completing them. This might involve a few moments to stretch and move away from your desk, giving yourself some time to check in with family and friends, or taking the much-deserved lunch break outdoors (weather permitting!) for some fresh air away from your ‘office’.
4. Reduce Distractions and set boundaries
When working from home, you may experience challenges setting boundaries with people who forget that working from home is still working. Family members, friends, and neighbors may ask you for help or to engage with them during your working hours. You may even experience some frustration on their end if you note that you are unavailable, but setting those clear boundaries. As a first-time parent, I am so thankful for the nursery that my daughter goes to. The 8am dropoff and 5pm pick up clearly set my daily boundaries and are the hours that I can work guilt-free. Quite often I have unfinished work at 5pm, so I do look at emails and make the odd call at 7pm whilst we prepare dinner, but I always give myself between 5-7pm the time with my daughter and everyone I work with is very aware of these boundaries and that they will either catch me before 5pm or after 7pm if it is important.
5. Stay connected
It’s easy to feel isolated working from home and it is so important to make an effort to connect with supportive individuals around you, be it family, friends or colleagues. Because everyone may have different schedules, set up a regular time to video chat or call each other, and add it to your calendar as a reminder as something to look forward to. You can also create a group chat to stay in touch with each other throughout the week. At Pro-Group, we have a Whatsapp group, regular microsoft teams calls, and evening social events. As lockdown eases, we are putting outdoor events together as an opportunity to connect with colleagues again.
6. Know when to switch off
Working from home doesn’t mean working 24/7. Overworking causes burnout. Burnout affects productivity as well as health and in the long run, is a recipe for disaster, mistakes increase, health issues emerge and recovery from burnout is tricky. Having a schedule, a list of things to achieve in your day, week, and month, will allow you to manage your accomplishments. Remember to work smarter, not harder. At Pro-Group, we work with core hours in place, but offer the flexibility for our teams to work around their personal commitments. This is key for work/life separation - setting the tone that if you respect your team member's need to have that balance and delineation, that they will similarly respect the need for their work time to be fully devoted to work, where possible.
7. Keep your house running
With the freedom and flexibility to work from home, it’s nice to be able to do the things that would ordinarily get on top of you. When you take a break to get yourself a cuppa why not put a wash on whilst you wait for the kettle to boil, empty the dishwasher, do the small things around the house that get on top of you and mean that you have to rush around in your spare time. One thing that I have personally started doing in my fresh food shopping on Monday at 8am, I drop my daughter off at nursery and head to the supermarket. It's extremely quiet, I'm not rushing around with a toddler, and I know that my family is set for the week. I may log on a little later on a Monday morning but no one misses me and my work still gets done. As long as you aren't missing a meeting, do the things that free your mind and take a weight off your shoulders. I'm certainly not suggesting a spring clean for half a day but it's the little things that will help your week progress.
8. Practice self-care and be kind to yourself
It’s easy to beat yourself up when things don’t go right. When you work from home, it's important to prioritise self-care. Doing so may help you stay connected to yourself and better understand what you need in terms of work-life balance. Take your time figuring out how you can best take care of yourself and meet your needs. Practicing self-care may include:
- Regular exercise
- Listening to music
- Spending valuable time away from your desk
We hope that with this series of webinars, our colleagues at Pro-Group can start to see the signs of stress, learn how to cope with triggers, and even come up with some techniques to manage stress. Life is better when it's stress-free, but it is also impossible to think our busy lives will be stress-free, so let's learn to live with it and take active ways of managing, coping, and living with stress so that it doesn't have a detrimental effect on our health (physical or mental).