The outbreak of COVID-19 has meant a lot of change for businesses and employees in a very short period of time. Working from home has gone from an occasional perk to a government-enforced necessity. Although lockdown is slowly starting to ease, it’s likely that many businesses will be working remotely for the coming months.
As we all continue to find our feet, it’s important for small businesses and accountants to look after the wellbeing of their employees and themselves. Here are some tips for supporting your team – and yourself – when working from home.
One of the biggest components missing as we continue to work remotely is the interaction with colleagues. Having a cup of tea together on a Monday morning and catching up on weekends doesn’t have to be a thing of the past. Staying connected is going to be key to keeping teams close and cohesive.
Encourage teams to pick up the phone or set up video check-ins over a cup of tea in the morning. You can also set up a specific communications channel on Slack (or whatever technology you use) for your team. This is a great way to encourage people to share tips and experiences on working from home, as well as encouraging conversation.
It’s so easy to blur the lines without having to leave the house to go work, especially if you don’t have a separate work space at home. Some ways to help create some separation are: going for a walk before and after work, identifying clear start and finish times, not signing on the minute you wake up and protecting your personal time.
It’s really important to lead by example so encourage your teams to switch off and maintain a healthy balance whilst working from home.
Look after yourself and your people
Looking after your wellbeing is key for staying productive and resilient. Taking breaks often along with regular exercise can help both your mind and body. As a result, this can help maintain good sleep habits – something we know is a challenge for most right now. Maintaining your wellbeing is an important part of coping with stress and can be easy to forget, especially when running a business. It can be easy to focus on supporting others, but remember that your wellbeing matters too.
And it’s just as important to monitor and support the wellbeing of your team. Try to keep activities going as if you were working in an office environment. At Xero, we’ve been running activities like our ‘Friday Chillout Lounge’ in the UK. This is where teams can watch some of our talented musicians and DJs perform over lunch. Virtual breakfasts, quizzes and video calls scheduled to catch-up rather than focus on work also work well. Ask the team what they’d like to do and encourage feedback regularly.
The gift of time
Normal work routines have been disrupted. Pre-outbreak the average journey time for a commuter in the UK was 65 minutes each day. Now, the average commute is the time it takes to go from the bedroom to the living room.
For some this might be the perfect opportunity to get some extra sleep and establish good sleeping habits. For others it might mean an hour back to focus on taking care of their health. It could be a yoga or online exercise class, meditation, taking the dog for a walk – anything that’s going to help people feel healthier inside and outside. So remind yourself and those you work with to keep that time for yourself.
Be kind to yourself
It’s important that we all stay tuned to what is going on around us to make sure that we are adhering to government guidelines. However, too much negative news can become harmful to our wellbeing. Being aware of when we are consuming too much media can help us protect ourselves.
It’s also acceptable for you and your team to not always feel positive and upbeat. It’s normal for negative emotions to rise to the surface every now and then. Like life in the office, working from home everyday is going to have its ups and downs. Being open and honest will help you support each other.
Check in regularly, create a healthy routine, listen to yourself and others and be flexible. None of us have been through this before, but we will get through it together.
Visit our dedicated site for more inspirational stories, webinars and resources to help you navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.