Working remotely during coronavirus
While some staff will be used to working from home, for many staff, and particularly those in schools, it may be a whole new experience.
There are lots of challenges to cope with and you may have faced some of those this week. Your routine will be completely broken, and you may be missing the interaction with pupils that you have invested so much time with. You may be anxious about your health or that of loved ones and you may be anxious about the financial consequences for you and your family. You may miss the daily interaction with your colleagues.
I have seen lots of great guidance around this week and many HR teams have been really proactive in supporting managers and staff. Here is a summary of some practical steps you can take to make your working time at home more productive and protect your well-being through this challenging time.
If you are managing people and teams
Those of you that manage staff have particular responsibilities during this period for the health, safety and welfare of your people. It is important to show you care at what could be a very stressful time for your team.
Create clear and realistic expectations for your team. Ensure they understand what their work priorities are and allow for them to communicate any difficulties they may have in meeting these.
Trust your team and be flexible
Trust and allow your team the flexibility to complete their work on a schedule that works for them as well as you. This is especially important when thinking about team members working from home with children who are being home schooled at this time. Of course, there is an expectation that work will be completed, but speak with team members about how this is best going to be achievable for them in their individual circumstances.
Regular catch ups
Make contact with your staff at least once per week to check in on their well-being and how they are managing with work. Ensure staff know this is a supportive process and is not about checking up on them. Do not create unnecessary work for staff by asking for detailed update reports.
Ensure virtual meetings are productive
Have a clear purpose, structure and a note of actions with who is responsible for what. Keep meetings focused so as not to take precious time, at the same time do give time for team chat which can support a sense of social time and teamwork.
Looking after your health and well being
In school or at the office, you are more likely to move away from your desk. When working at home you may find yourself staying in the same position for lengthy periods of time. It is important to take regular breaks, change your positions and stay hydrated.
If possible, try to have a designated personal workspace. Try to keep this area organised and distraction free (if possible!) and think about your posture. Make sure you have good lighting and air circulation.
Try to establish a routine and stick to it. Make sure you get dressed in the morning as usual as this can help you feel some normality for routine and is professional for any online delivery or meetings. Talk to your manager about your work and what is possible. If you have young children at home or are caring for sick relatives, you may struggle separating work so do raise any concerns and agree a way forward.
If you can, try and get outside at least once a day during daylight hours. Obviously, it is important to comply with social distancing. There is no doubt though that fresh air and being outside will be good for your well-being.
We all know that exercise is good for us, yet it can sometimes be hard to find the time or motivation.
However, if you can manage your work time well then use your free time to do some exercise. You could do yoga, follow an exercise class on YouTube, have a walk or go for a run – again, though, making sure you comply with social distancing. There are loads of online resources you can access too such as the daily Body Coach workout. If the kids are at home with you, this can be great time to share together and have some fun.
Social media is great for keeping us informed but can also be a huge distraction and inflate any anxieties you may have. Trying to limit social media at this time is vital. Follow the official channels for news, mute notifications and try to limit your social media time during the day and particularly in the evenings as it will affect your sleep.
Resilient people go through the same emotions we all experience but they are able to keep a sense of realistic optimism and are flexible to adjust. Maintaining your resilience during this challenging time will be important.
There is advice and support on this via RobertsonCoopers and you can also complete and download their free i-resilience report which will help you understand your own coping strategies and what you might need to work on. Check out www.robertsoncooper.com
There are support mechanisms in place for you to access if you are struggling such as the Education Support network at www.educationsupport.org.uk. Remember that resilient people ask for help.