Our Wellbeing Advice for Employees Working Remotely during COVID-19

Rick Kershaw, CPO
Our Wellbeing Advice for Employees Working Remotely during COVID-19

We’ve always supported remote working at Peakon. It gives our people the flexibility to work around other commitments, and helps us retain the best people. We even have a handful of employees who are 100% remote – but they are the exception, not the norm.

In these unprecedented times, however, remote working is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s one of the only ways we can protect the health of our people. But there’s a significant difference between working from home once a week, and being asked to stay home until told otherwise.

So, as part of our COVID-19 communications, we’ve had to take into consideration how working from home for extended periods of time might impact the wellbeing of our people.

The information below is our advice to Peakons on how they can look after their physical and mental wellbeing in the coming weeks. Our hope is that people teams in other organizations will find it useful as a template for their own communications with employees.

  1. Staying connected
  2. Practising proper self-care
  3. Establishing a routine
  4. Making time for creativity

1. Staying connected

Staying connected with colleagues

Think of ’‘social distancing” as “physical distancing”.

We are not psychologically and emotionally distancing ourselves from others during this time, instead, we are reimagining our way of working. Reach out to your colleagues to check on how they are doing and maintain a connection using some of the examples below:

  • Schedule regular meetings with your team 
  • Be descriptive when talking about what you’re working on 
  • Plan remote lunches and online activities, like quizzes, with other Peakons

Staying connected to your loved ones:

It’s at times like these that it’s important to remember our company values, especially Life First. Take care of yourself and those dear to you first. That should always be your priority.

Staying connected whilst living alone:

Colleagues can be a great source of support, but it’s equally important to reach out to friends and family – even if you’re not able to physically spend time with them.

  • Make an extra effort to participate in group chats with friends and family, and if you don’t have any set up, now is the time to take the initiative. Some of the most popular options include FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Houseparty and WhatsApp
  • Schedule reoccurring appointments in your calendar to catch up with certain colleagues, even if it’s only to discuss things that aren’t related to work
  • Organize a Netflix Party with friends, family, or colleagues in the evenings

If you need more support – please speak to the People Team

2. Practising self-care

Stay healthy and active: 

  • Where possible, and adhering to the rules stipulated by the government, get some time outdoors:  
    • Have walking meetings on the phone if you don’t need to use a screen 
    • Plan time in your diary to step outside/go for a walk 
    • Have a walk round the garden if you have one
  • Stand up and stretch for 2 minutes every hour: schedule a timer if it helps (remember, we won’t be getting our 10 000 steps as often!)
  • Practice yoga or something similar at home. If you need inspiration or want a virtual teacher, there are plenty of great options available on YouTube, like Yoga with Adriene
  • Drink plenty of water: have a bottle or glass near you as you work
  • Pay attention to your diet. Take a moment to remember that our diets are not limited to what we eat. They include what we read, watch, listen to; everything we consume…

Look after your mental health:

  • Consume news and content mindfully – we all want to stay informed but honour your emotional boundaries with what/how much you consume. Remember to take breaks from all online media (news, social etc)
  • All Peakons have access to an EAP (employee assistance program) so check out the online content or schedule a session with a professional if/when needed

Start your day with some mindfulness:

  • In the absence of a busy morning commute, spend 5-10 minutes on a morning meditation or mindfulness. Regular meditation and breath practices are a quick way to hack the nervous system out of the stress response – which strengthens our immunity. We encourage you to download Calm or Headspace
  • You could also use that time to read a good book or listen to a Podcast

3. Establishing a routine

Have a schedule: 

  • Be mindful to schedule time away from your laptop 
  • It’s easy to carry on working, so remember to switch off. Step away from the computer at the end of the day, and remember your work-life balance
  • Plan for the day ahead to ensure you stay focused on what you need to deliver. Block out time where needed.

It’s all about your environment:

  • Where possible, have a set place where you work from which is separate from where you relax. This helps to create a separation between work and play. 
  • Make sure you’re comfortable where you’re working and set an intention for the day. It’s easy to roll out of bed at 8:55 and start at 9, so try and set your day up on a positive note. Get ready, wear something comfortable, make yourself a cup of coffee.

4. Making time for creativity

Explore your creative side:

Make some time to engage in practices that soothe the nervous system and boost your immunity. These could include any activities which help you to feel relaxed, such as: writing, cooking, baking, dancing, time in nature, painting, reading, etc.

Some other ideas include:

  • Starting a weekly online book club with a group of friends or coworkers
  • Ordering some colouring books for when you need a 5-minute escape
  • Signing up for an online course, many of which have been made available for free

Helping your people transition to remote work

Those of us who have the option to work remotely have a lot to be grateful for during these difficult times, but that doesn’t mean everyone finds it easy.

Some people might be working from home with young children, or have to share a house with other people who are working remotely at the same time. 

The more you can do to provide guidelines and ensure your people are looking after their wellbeing during these unpredictable times, the better.

Additional resources:

Remote Working Tips From A Remote Employee

How can organisations stay close, while workers keep their distance?