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Well-being considerations for home working and self-isolation

Many of us as businesses have had to enforce working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

In a time where home working has become a necessity, we need to make sure that we demonstrate the same HR ethics to our teams. In addition to this being in a period of self-isolation means that we need to be more conscious of our home workers, and their mental
health and well-being.

Our home workers are still classified as a lone worker; something often overlooked by employers. During these times of tumult, it is important to support our teams as best we can.

There is no doubt that as well as the anxiety provoked by a potentially deadly virus and no toilet roll or pasta in the supermarket, we are also facing the very likely fact that many workers will be being plunged into home working for the first time, to speak nothing of the potential requirements for isolation.

Some of those workers may already have experience of a day or so a week, but few of them will have worked full time from home and few of their managers will have managed large teams in such a situation either.

According to ACAS guidance, “only suitable people should be offered the choice of regular remote working” (with suitability not just about them as people but also about their home set up). And here we are about to put everyone, suitable or not, into that boat, in an environment which is already highly charged.

The research on how to be a good home worker is mostly focused around entrepreneurs who are accountable just to themselves. The research on how to be a good manager of remote teams is sparse.

It is good to stay in communication with your team on a regular basis, and to encourage your teams to do the same to help preserve their mental health and well-being. In the age of modern technology use video calling instead of just emails. This may just help give someone the lift they need for that day.

The BBC also advise: Stay connected with people

Increasing numbers will join those already in self-isolation so now might be a good time to make sure you have the right phone numbers and email addresses of the people you care about.
“Agree regular check-in times and feel connected to the people around you,” says Weatherley.
If you’re self-isolating, strike a balance between having a routine and making sure each day has some variety.

It might end up actually feeling like quite a productive two weeks. You could work through your to-do list or read a book you’d been meaning to get to.

Avoid burnout
With weeks and months of the Coronavirus pandemic ahead, it is important to have down time. Mind recommends continuing to access nature and sunlight wherever possible. Do exercise, eat well and stay hydrated.

AnxietyUK suggests practising the “Apple” technique to deal with anxiety and worries.

  • Acknowledge: Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
  • Pause: Don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Pause and breathe.
  • Pull back: Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary. It is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts are not statements or facts.
  • Let go: Let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
  • Explore: Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well. Notice your breathing and the sensations of your breathing. Notice the ground beneath you. Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell. Right now. Then shift your focus of attention to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else – mindfully with your full attention.
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