26 Mar 2020

With the COVID-19 ‘lockdown’ upon us, many of you – like the KAT team – will be working from home. While, to apply a much-used phrase, these are unprecedented times, for anyone not used to their work tasks mixing with their home life, making a move from an office environment to your living room is a big adjustment. And this is before you factor in the addition of the current necessary restrictions to our movement and social interaction.

In this digital world, many of us will be able to work from home with minimal disruption to many of our normal tasks, however, as well as considering the effect this move may have on your productivity it is also important to consider your wellbeing – physical, mental, emotional. We’ve put together some of our top tips for maintaining a positive level of ‘work from home wellness’ that have helped us make a smooth transition from desk to doorstep – and might help you too!

Maintain a routine

Undoubtedly your schedule will be quite different to normal, both in good and maybe less-than-helpful ways; you no longer have to factor in your commute, you may be sharing your now-workspace with family members, you’re using different equipment. This takes some adjustment. The deviation from the norm might prompt you to loosen the reins a little in terms of your routine – this is no bad thing, but working out a new schedule that fits around your change in circumstances can be a useful touchstone, even if you end up deviating from it.

To ease the initial stress, where possible keeping your timings – your morning alarm, mealtimes, break times – the same to begin with can help maintain a sense of comforting normality until you’re ready to find the ‘new standard’. Creating lists and written schedules can also help you feel calm and organised, but don’t worry if it all takes a few days to bed in – change can be stressful and adjusting might take some time, but you’ll reach comparable levels of productivity again before long!

Set some boundaries

Our personal living space is usually a place for relaxation and fun – so if you’re not accustomed to working from home, trying to summon the focus and motivation to meet your deadlines while surrounded by your creature comforts can initially be tricky. If you need to work in a space normally allocated for anything-but, it’s easy for the lines to become blurred – which can impact your productivity as well as your mental state and capacity to unwind.

If possible, try to allocate somewhere within your home to designate as your new work area. If you have a desk or study, this might be ideal; if not, perhaps your dining table – but even if you need to set up on the sofa, while you’re on the clock, try and treat it solely as a designated workspace. Keeping this zone free of clutter and non-work distractions will help you to focus and stay productive. When it’s time for a break, try to head outside or to a different room and return to your ‘office’ only when you’re ready to get your head back down.

Understandably, it is even harder not to ‘bring your work home’ when it’s physically in your space! You may be able to be more flexible with your working hours and habits, but be disciplined; when you’re finished for the day, tidy up your work area ready for tomorrow like you would in the office – and if necessary, pack your laptop and work documents away completely out of sight if you’re based within your living area. This should help you mentally able to switch out of ‘work mode’ to rest and relax for the evening.

Stay in touch

Working from home when you’re used to being surrounded by your teammates can be isolating; even if you do not live alone, the change in daily dynamics might take some getting used to. The KAT Marketing team are combating this in a few ways, but regular contact is key – not only for essential briefing, workload allocation and discussion, but also to check in and make sure no one is struggling.

In addition to our usual ‘KAT Chat’ WhatsApp group, we’re utilising Microsoft Teams for our internal meetings, so we can still get together ‘face-to-face’; work-wise we’ve found this to be far more efficient than a group email, but also seeing those smiling faces provides us all with a boost to mood and emotional wellbeing!

Reaching out to friends and loved ones – as well as your valued colleagues – is also going to be important while we’re all briefed by the government to stay apart. As with work, technology will partially come to our rescue here; reaching out to others with a phone call, video chat or setting up a new group chat on WhatsApp may make a big difference to their, and your, sense of inclusion – and help to keep any social isolation blues at bay.

Time outside

At the time of writing, government instruction is to stay at home except for essential errands and one form of exercise a day.

If you’re working at home, this will mean long spells spent at the laptop; at times like these, fresh air, sunshine and exercise will be more important than ever, so it’ll pay to implement this into your new home routine for a proven boost to mental and physical wellbeing. If you have access to a garden and the sun is shining, why not get out there on a break for some exercise, deep breathing or extra warmth on your skin – or even work outside if you can.

No garden? No worries! If like some of our team you’re based in a flat instead of a house, even something as simple as opening the window and spending some time looking out and breathing deeply can keep you topped up until you can get back out there.

Keep informed – but not overwhelmed

We’re in a time of unparalleled uncertainty; no one can be sure of what is going to happen in the near future, or what message or instructions may come from one day to the next. As a result, keeping an eye on the news and tuning in for our regular updates is really going to feel like a priority – but too much information can be overwhelming and cause undue anxiety. Every one of us will have encountered articles or social media posts that have caused extra stress – even if the message turns out to be inaccurate; the internet and media as a whole is full of worrying information at the moment, so for our own wellbeing it is important to reasonably ration it.

Of course, take this situation seriously, and stay informed about essential advice and information – but choose your news sources well, seek out positive stories wherever possible (here is one of our favourites!) and consider limiting your scrolling and hashtag-following activity if you start feeling too anxious.

Whether you’re on furlough or busy working from home, the KAT team are always here for you, whether you could use some business advice or simply if you’re feeling anxious of overwhelmed and could use a chat at this time.

If your business could use some help at this tricky time – from guidance on your business comms, to digital activity on your website, social media, SEO and more, to content creation or documents requiring proof-reading – we are here to help.

Simply call the team on 01206 765544 – or drop us an email on [email protected]

Take care, stay well and we look forward to seeing you all ‘on the other side’ and back outside ?