Many of us have now been working from home for several weeks, possibly surrounded by other halves and various children, some of whom (like mine) may have had their public exams cancelled. These are strange times, with the potential for unforeseen consequences to arise from the increased use of technology and constant proximity of our loved ones. This may give rise to issues which wouldn’t ordinarily crop up when working in the familiarity of our offices.
In no particular order and with no apologies if some seem obvious:
Mental health – aside from the risk to our physical health from COVID-19, levels of anxiety have risen across the working population. Our home may be an unfamiliar working environment. Perhaps we’re learning to use new IT tools and we’re definitely spending less time interacting with other members of our teams. April is stress awareness month and we need to keep in regular touch with our team (whether working or furloughed), both for our own sakes and theirs. It’s good to talk, not just instant message.
Health and safety generally – we all need a safe space in which to work. Insofar as it’s possible to do so, we should set up our remote workstations properly in the most comfortable position away from other family members, setting our seat/screen for what is likely to be extended screen time compared to office working. Take regular breaks away from the screen and go for your one permitted outside exercise a day.
Security – the risks of data breaches and other breaches of confidentiality increase when working outside the office. Lock your screen when taking a break to avoid a child or pet unexpectedly pressing a button on your keyboard and deleting the spreadsheet you’ve just spent an hour creating. Don’t have personal data in shot when conducting video calls, perhaps even blur your background if you’ve worked out how to do that.
Work effectively – for those not used to working from home, it is easy to be distracted by … sorry where was I? It’s best to start work at your usual time (if not before as you don’t have to commute) and be dressed in daytime clothes, particularly for the video call. Put on your work head as it’s even more important to plan your day where the usual resources and answers may not be so easily to hand. Also don’t forget to switch off at the end of the working day.
Do the same things differently – we’ll still need to have team talks, but perhaps have a Zoom call wearing fancy dress or with your pets in shot; these are real examples of how spirits can be lifted. Send more messages of thanks to staff for both the usual run-of-the-mill work and when they work outside their comfort zones. We’re all learning how to do things differently.
Most importantly, remember that you’re not alone and things will return to normal, albeit certainly a new kind of normal where remote working is far more readily accepted by many employers where it has been shown to work.
Finally, does anyone know how to stop the cat jumping on the desk and sitting on your papers just when you start a conference call?
The contents of this article are intended as guidance for readers. It can be no substitute for specific advice. Consequently we cannot accept responsibility for this information, errors or matters affected by subsequent changes in the law, or the content of any website referred to in this article. © Mundays LLP.