While remote working has been widely accepted and workable by most during Covid-19, there is another side to the story.
In a recent article, RTE stated that while workers are set-up for home working on a practical level, cracks are starting to appear on a physical, mental, and emotional level. Many are working from home with high levels of anxiety, personal challenges, conflicting priorities, economic strains, and various other challenges. Research by Laya Healthcare found a staggering 91% of Irish workers are struggling with anxiety during Covid-19, yet a mere 10% are seeking assistance from a mental health professional.
Grow Mental Health is probably the biggest charity you’ve never heard of. Grow started in Ireland in 1968 in the small parish of Athea in Co. Limerick. Today, Grow has over 130 community groups across Ireland. Their mental health services are based on community support groups and the 12 step recovery model, usually known to treat addiction. That model also works extremely well with all recovery-based issues including mental health. Grow support over 1,000 people per week through consultation, group workshops, and calls/texts to members. During Covid-19, Grow moved their meetings online and have had a massive response due to increased coverage and reach of their services online. However, the downside is that requests for their services have almost quadrupled since the start of the pandemic.
Radius is supporting Grow throughout the month of December by fundraising so they can finance more vital mental health services. We are kicking off the fundraising with a virtual 5k event on #GivingTuesday on the 1st of December. #GivingTuesday is a global fundraising initiative that is starting in Ireland for the first time in 2020. Due to the pandemic, fundraising has been difficult for all charities, so helping this year is more important than ever.
Working from home is harder than you think. It requires some shifts in mindset. You’re going to miss out on a lot of emotional and practical support from your normal working environment. But if you adopt a proactive approach to improving your setup and behaviours, you’ll find a new rhythm soon enough.
1) Develop & Refine a Routine
The primary benefit of a routine isn’t so much the measurable outputs of how much you get done, it’s having something to turn to when things go wrong. When you run out of motivation or when you are paralysed by uncertainty, a good routine will tell you what to do next. Two key elements of any useful routine are (a) doing something at a specific time and (b) when I stop X, then I start Y. Routines can be enhanced and refined over time but you have to start with something. Don’t try to wing it.
2) Mood Maintenance
Congratulations! You’ve now been promoted to the role of Chief Mood Officer in your home working environment. At the best of times, this is important but with the deluge of sadness and fear that’s coming at us, it’s vital that you work on maintaining a healthy mood. Your role is to outnumber the mood-lowering experiences with mood-boosting ones. Fit this around your working day and play the music that delights, dance like nobody’s watching (outside of video calls ideally), shoot the breeze with a buddy. It doesn’t exactly matter what you do, as long as it’s counter-balancing the negative stuff.
3) Be More Human, not Less
As this pandemic develops, we will suffer an increasingly heavy emotional toll on our mental health especially with remote working. Rather than pretending it isn’t happening or attempting to deal with it by being ‘tough’, we need to step up our emotional connections with others. My suggestion is to always begin a conversation with “How are you?”. This is a time to strengthen our relationships with our colleagues. By asking for help, or sharing what we’re finding difficult, we’re encouraging others to be and to feel, more useful. Chances are that your colleagues are experiencing similar challenges to you and may already have figured out solutions.
4) Assume Positive Intent
When most of our communications are electronic, we’re missing a lot of the information we receive from face to face interactions. When this is coupled with prolonged isolation, we’re more open to tendencies that feed our sense of exclusion and even paranoia. This can lead to over-reactions to innocuous messages, or reading too much into a response, or often lack of response. The antidote here is to assume positive intent at all times. Invariably, the ‘others’ aren’t out to get you.
5) Think longer term
You won’t be much use to your team/clients if you are depressed or burnt out. By over-working today, you are stealing from tomorrow’s energy. In a time of panic, in an unusual, this is a real possibility. It’s important you stay fresh enough to be able to do valuable work tomorrow, and next week. Today’s drama will be forgotten soon enough. Your responsibility is to stay in contention over the long term.