Until fairly recently, the idea of home working was seen by many as a luxury.
It was something for freelancers, or for some staff to enjoy on an ad hoc basis.
We’re now living in a world where home working where possible is the norm.
Dining room tables have been converted to makeshift offices, many parents are juggling work commitments with home-schooling their children, and pets are lapping up the additional time with their owners at home.
But while there can be many luxuries to working from home, like working in your tracksuit if you want, or avoiding the morning commute, it can be a lonely experience for many employees.
It’s also perhaps harder to look out for our staff and their wellbeing when you switch from spending eight hours a day with them to only seeing a face on a computer screen.
So, how can you look out for your team's wellbeing as the lockdown continues? Here are some tips we’ve been using at Apricity that you may find helpful.
Communicate and open up
Routine is important. Setting up a daily morning or afternoon call with your team, if you haven't done already, will allow you to set a clear path for the day and catch up on what progress everyone has made.
It also provides that much-needed opportunity for communication and for catching up.
Yet it's worth checking in with your employees on a one-to-one basis as well.
The conversation might involve asking them how they're doing not just within the context of work but outside their work hours too. How are they keeping busy and getting on with day-to-day life? Is there anything they're struggling with?
Mindset and movement
While the suit and tie and usual office attire is unlikely to be leaving the wardrobe for a while, it’s important to encourage your team to at the very least change out of their pyjamas. Having a team catch-up first thing is a sure-fire way to encourage this!
Some people even recommend putting on shoes. It's all about helping you and those you work with get into the right mental space that you are at work and not lounging at home.
It's been said for years that sitting down all day isn't beneficial for employees.
It may be worth encouraging staff to set an alarm for each hour to get up and move around in order to avoid discomfort, whether it’s to pop the kettle on or just have a good stretch. Getting away from your desk can also help with clarity of thinking.
As well as keeping moving, it’s important for us to increase our activity, despite the limits on where we can go.
Sharing how you’re being active with your colleagues can be a great motivator, perhaps by introducing a challenge within your team such as who can do the most steps in a week.
Holding on to what you enjoy
Despite not being able to go out and socialise, you and your team may benefit from sharing recommendations for books, films and TV shows.
Organising less formal online team catch-ups around things like quizzes is another way to keep up interaction in a non-work setting and build in something to enjoy.
When it comes to lunch breaks, eating lunch at your desk isn’t a healthy option even when we're in the office.
When working from home it’s a good idea to move away from the working space, and to sit somewhere else and take some time out. If the weather is good, it's also a chance to get some fresh air and have a proper break away from work.
Generally, offices tend to be filled with conversations, ringing phones and other background noise.
Working in silence maybe some people's idea of heaven, but for others they may find it a struggle.
Having the radio on is a good option here, with either music and/or conversation to break up the silence or to allow for focused work.
Alternatively, there are a growing number of podcasts out there (including our own - That Mint Podcast if you'd like to check it out). This can be more comforting as it feels like people are in the room.
Define your workspace
It's worth working to maintain a boundary between your work life and your home life where you can, as this can increase concentration and help with motivation.
Encourage a clean space to work from with limited distractions, such as the TV being on. This should help your team to structure their day and keep them on track with day-to-day tasks.
As we're all probably finding right now, adapting to home working is a constant learning process. This is especially true seeing as we don't know how long we'll be doing this for.
Continuing to look after the wellbeing of your staff (and not forgetting your own) should help with and increase motivation, and may also serve to boost performance. It will also no doubt improve your working relationships in the longer term too.