The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way we live our lives. The initial preventative measures of handwashing and ‘social distancing’ have progressed to complete shut-down of certain businesses; no longer being able to travel around our country; and the suspension or cancellation of much-loved sporting events and celebrations.
Sadly, thousands of people have been stood down from their employment and casual workers have watched their shifts evaporate. Many, many businesses, where possible, have set up work-from-home arrangements for their staff.
While these workers are fortunate to remain gainfully employed, new ways of working aren’t without challenges.
Shifting the routine from a daily commute to the office, to moving from the kitchen to the dining table or home office is not necessarily seamless. People who are used to working in lively and vibrant teams can very quickly feel isolated and lonely when working solo.
Negative thoughts can start niggling away in the brain. It might be concern (even guilt) about colleagues (or family) who are no longer employed. Fear about the pandemic itself and the unknown end-point. Or frustration at trying to maintain productivity when there are distractions in the household.
This is normal. Here are five tips for working from home during COVID-19.
- Don’t work from bed or the couch. Neither of these locations are ergonomically designed workspaces – and they’re are also negative for your headspace. Get up and get dressed before facing your work-day.
- Create a dedicated workspace. Even if it is the dining table, section off the space in your home that gives you sensible and safe access to power, and that provides a comfortable and well-lit space to work.
- Reach out to colleagues during the day. It’s not natural to go through the day with only the goldfish for company. Loneliness is a productivity killer. Video conferencing or phone chats are worth doing – everyday.
- Take breaks and stretch your legs. Make sure you’re eating well – and take your lunch break away from your workspace.
- Avoid the news during the day. It can take your thoughts to places they do not need to be. The news will still be there at the end of the day – so leave it until then.
The CEO of Beyond Blue, Georgie Harman, says that fear can be harmful to your mental health. She advises to limit social media exposure and “curate what you look at”. She also says to remember the pandemic is a temporary situation and it will end.
If you need to talk to someone about feelings of anxiety or distress, Beyond Blue has a free counselling service available online or by phoning 1300 22 4636.
We’re social beings. So it’s important to stay connected – especially when working from home during COVID-19.