flexible working employee wellness the wellness crew

This week marks workplace wellbeing day – but our workplace has changed so much in the last two months. At the outset of the lockdown restrictions, we may have been scrambling to set up a home-desk and some of us are still working at the kitchen table. This seemed okay when we thought it was short term. However, even if restrictions are changed, the foreseeable future of work will likely include a much higher degree of working from home.  

Your workstation

If you have not already, now could be the time to assess your workstation.  If possible, it should be a designated space, even if it cannot be in a separate room.  You need to feel that when you are at this station you can be in work-mode, but when you step away from it, you are back in your home.  

Consider the ergonomics of your space.  Chair height and desk height are important and your own home furniture may not be best suited.  You may need to discuss with your employer supports that might be available to improve your workspace and therefore your productivity. We know that working on a laptop long term increases risk for wrist, neck and back pain. If you can avail of a workstation including keyboard, mouse and full screen, you can improve your posture and reduce risk of injury. 

Juggling childcare and working hours

A major difficulty for many is that the childcare situation remains unknown.  It is possible that parents will be juggling home school and childcare with work commitments for some time.  Feeling committed to two separate roles at the same time can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety and failure. It’s hard to be good at both of these things at once.  

It can be helpful to set working hours versus family hours to avoid feeling constantly like you should be doing more of the other.  This may mean however that you decide to get up early to get some undisturbed hours in.  Or perhaps you prefer to work later in the evening.  You may need to discuss this with colleagues and your employer so that they know when to contact you or schedule meetings. We will all need to adapt to changing working hours and people’s commitments. 

Remote meetings and online communication

We hope you are not sick of Zoom just yet! Remote meetings are likely to be the primary method of communication over the next few months or years. It could be a long time before we gather in a meeting room again.  

We are starting to learn that our appearance at a remote meeting is important, and not just whether you are secretly wearing pyjama bottoms under the desk.  If you turned up to a meeting in person, slouched back in your chair and stared blankly into space, it might be perceived that you had zero interest in being there. The same can be said for a remote meeting. Try to make sure that you’re camera is positioned well – sometimes using your phone is better than your laptop camera.  Know how to mute when you’re not speaking.  But don’t be afraid to pipe up when needs be.  Just like a real meeting, attendance is not the same as participation.  If we moaned about useless meetings before, then useless remote meetings should be just as vilified. 

Keep in contact with your work pals

We need to keep up communication with our colleagues and work-pals. They are ordinarily a huge part of our lives and we will be missing the water cooler talk and catch ups over coffee.  For some of us the connection is so strong, that we have declared a ‘work-wife’ or ‘work-husband’.  To be clear, this has nothing to do with infidelity, but is the go-to person we sit beside, bounce ideas off, call on for the coffee break. It’s a strong work relationship which you are now separated from. 

From a work point of view, collaborations and sparking of new ideas and projects is going to be reduced.  From a social point of view, we will be missing that outlet, the human interaction that we need to diffuse work-related stress and frankly it makes the work day that much more enjoyable.  We recommend having a short social catch up every week, without a specific agenda or work-related discussion.  

More to come..

To mark Workplace Wellbeing Day this week, we will bring you part two of this blog tomorrow where we’ll discuss other health-related issues to consider when working from home. 

If you are interested in discussing supports for your staff working from home, email us at hello@thewellnesscrew.ie

About the author : Aine Ryan