This has been a time of great hardship and change around the world during the COVID 19 global pandemic. Communities across our nation have had to abide by strict regulations and policies put in place to protect the lives and well being of those most vulnerable. It has been a time of rapid change and adaptation to a “new normal”. Along with the personal sacrifices and adjustments people have had to cope with, there also came professional and economic changes. Many people have lost their jobs altogether, while others are able to maintain their employment and work from home. It is important to acknowledge that either scenario has its challenges, and imperative that we find ways to cope. While working from home provides some “normalcy” and relief from financial strain it can be exceedingly difficult to manage and keep up morale. Here are some things to consider:
Personal/Work Life Integration
Here is the truth, there is no such thing as balancing work and life during this pandemic. It is more about integrating work into your personal life. It can be very difficult and perhaps seemingly impossible to bring your work life home and keep the two completely separate. Providing flexible policies in terms of changes that encompass personal life integration would be beneficial. This could include things such as flexible hours to accommodate for issues such as child-care as employees may not realistically be available for straight consecutive hours throughout the day. What is upmost important is that communication between management and colleagues takes place. Setting clear non-negotiables and boundaries will aid in helping to fulfill your duties as an employee as well as manage your personal life responsibilities.
There is no denying that the vast majority of jobs have changed. Whether this means the physical location has changed or the position itself, organizations have had to adjust and therefore so have the jobs. Flexibility has been a key component over these last few months, for employers and employees alike. Job descriptions have perhaps changed or have taken on multiple roles that are completely different. Viewing these changes as being part of positive change and growth for your business or organization can be helpful. Although change can be very difficult on multiple levels, ones mindset can make a difference in handling these occupational challenges.
With measures in place with regards to social distancing and working from home it could be quite challenging to stay connected. We often forget about how much time we spend at our workplaces and how much of our lives we share with our colleagues. For some finding the balance of staying connected may be difficult. It is important to acknowledge that although video chats/conferencing is helpful, it can also be extremely exhausting. Research shows that this format of communication requires a lot more focus than face to face conversations. It requires more focus and energy as we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, tone of voice and body language. The important thing to remember is that not all work interactions need to take place online or through video format. What we may forget is that staying connected also includes the informal interactions that once took place within the “normal” office setting. Therefore, reaching out to your colleagues for things that you would normally do could be a helpful way to stay connected. This could be through a simple gesture such as, a personal text message, sending a birthday card in the mail, or surprise some one with a snack or lunch delivery.
Self care is something that we all hear about and is highly recommended by psychologists and health professionals. This may include mental stimulation, communication with loved ones, spending time outdoors and physical activities. However, rest is one of the most important aspects of self care and can be the one thing that is most often overlooked or sacrificed. Rest is a critical part of both our physical and mental well being. The stress of daily life can be exacerbated by our every changing day to day struggles brought on by the pandemic. Constant worrying may decrease your immune system and cause prolonged mental health issues and anxiety. Therefore, it is essential to get the rest that we need. It is important to note that everyone has their own way to experience rest. What one activity feels restful to one person may not be to another. Regardless, it is important to schedule in this time. Depending upon your current work expectations there could be many options. For example, sticking to a specific 5-day work week, use a sick day, or schedule some vacation time if that is available to you. Allowing yourself to disconnect from work to rest and take proper care of yourself will be beneficial to your personal well being, and in turn create a positive impact in your productivity as an employee.
While everyone is trying to cope in a state of our constantly changing physical climate, professionals are now raising the red flag when it comes to the impact on our mental health. What we know is that often times it is our natural support systems that will pick up on cues that we miss when we are not doing well. These support systems consist of those around us that we interact with on a daily basis, and this includes our workplace colleagues. Although we may not be in the same physical location it is still important to check in with each other. Reach out to others if you feel you are in need of support and reach out to others who you see may be exhibiting signs of stress. Simply asking how someone is doing, providing acknowledgment and a sympathetic ear to listen or vent to can be extremely helpful. What is important is to never hesitate to talk about mental health. If you or someone you know is struggling reach out!