Feeling bad at home? Tips to help people
If you’re working from home, you’ve probably sorted out in your mind the pros and cons by now. But the news that you have to work from home (if you can) again, and another lockdown, is still bound to cause spirits to dip a little – or crash, in some cases.
Just when we started to feel able to get out and about more, we seem to be heading back indoors. Not everyone lives in happy homes. Some people struggle with distractions, tricky housemates, internet connections and all kinds of other challenges.
One thing we regularly discuss is the importance of helping stop people feel isolated – including from you and their colleagues. We’re all used to video meetings by now, but they tend to be pretty formal and work-focused.
If you don’t make an effort, people who are working at home by themselves will start to think of their manager and work colleagues as “imaginary friends”. They receive messages in writing and get on with their work, but they’re working in a bubble alone. That’s not healthy for anyone.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Don’t fall into a routine of only communicating in writing (email, Slack etc) and only letting people – who might be feeling anxious and especially now – only see other faces when you have formal meetings.
- Check in with people. In the same way you’d talk to people at work, call them from time to time and see each other’s faces. You might be the only friendly face they see that day. It’s good for you too.
- Even on work video meetings: spend a little time chatting, as human beings, at the start and end.
- Anything you do to help when someone’s having a bad time counts in the long run. All the words about “being a great place to work” will sound meaningless if you aren’t there for them in some way when they hit a low point.
- If you think they’re finding it difficult, ask. Then see if you can come up with any ideas to help. Even saying “you can talk to me” will help. If it’s something serious, get help with this.
- On video calls, we tend to have blank faces and we move less than in real life. Partly because we’re worrying about the internet connection! Spending a long meeting looking at serious faces and talking about work isn’t the greatest experience for someone who’s feeling anxious or blue – so smile when you talk, at least from time to time, and have a quick occasional break from “work work work” talk.
- Any alternatives to working from home? Currently lockdown rules allow for Covid-secure co-working places like Platf9rm to stay open. It’s tricky to advise if you can leave your home to work somewhere else, because it’s going to come down to a couple of factors – but this option is there.
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