Articles, information and support tools

    Supporting employees working from home

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    Pre-pandemic, most people only worked from home for a short time, maybe to accommodate a GP appointment, look after a sick child, or wait for a repair or delivery. So they made do with the environment they had, and may have even enjoyed the novelty of working from the sofa for a day.

    However, as restrictions remain in place, working from home has become the norm, and sitting on the sofa while using the coffee table can seriously pale (and ache) after days and weeks. As a result, people have had to adapt their home and work environment to accommodate this ‘new normal’.

    This resource offers practical hints and tips to support your physical and mental wellbeing while working at home, and a reminder of some of the support available through Unum.

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    Plan your working day

    Wake up at least 30 minutes before your working day starts so you can prepare both physically and mentally for the day ahead.

    Make the effort to get dressed and don’t work in your pyjamas. Again, this helps to keep clear boundaries between home and work.

    Introduce a “fake commute” into your routine. This may include going for a walk or meditating before and after work to distinguish when your working day starts and ends.

    Have a scheduled lunch break away from your work area – block this time out in your calendar.

    Take regular micro breaks (30 seconds to 2 minutes) away from your workstation throughout the day to help improve concentration as well as reducing the pressure on your joints. A micro break can include anything from making a cup of tea, going for a short walk, washing up a few dishes or even just daydreaming. Put reminders in your calendar so you don’t forget!

    But try not to do household chores randomly throughout the day as this can become distracting. Instead, schedule a specific time to do them. You can use the pomodoro technique to help minimise distractions.

    Be mindful of your working hours. Keep a note of the hours you work each day and if you are working significantly longer, talk to your line manager about why this may be. Here’s a useful resource on how to talk to your manager about your workload.

    Become digitally resilient – know when to switch off from work and technology. Have a listen to our podcast on stress and technology.

    Environment

    No two people work in exactly the same environment or way, so ‘working from home’ is different for everyone.

    It may be tempting, but avoid working from your sofa or bed. This blurs the lines of work and home, and you will lose joy from being in these places, as well as increasing the risk of musculoskeletal problems.

    Where you can, have an ergonomically-sound workstation in a dedicated area.

    And have a clean, comfortable and tidy workspace. Try to have some natural light and why not add a plant or set your desktop image to something calming?

    Here’s some useful information on how to set up your workstation and managing musculoskeletal issues.

    Sometimes working from home can be too quiet, so why not try some ambient noise in the background such as coffee shop chatter or the sound of sea? This can increase productivity and reduce feelings of isolation.

    Look after yourself

    Movement matters. Use the 40:20 rule. In every hour, try 40 minutes of sitting, 10 minutes of standing or moving, and 10 minutes of stretching to reduce the pressure on your joints.

    Take a look at our U-First ‘Movement matters’ resource to regularly review your physical wellbeing.

    And listen to our podcast on sedentary behaviour and dispelling myths.

    Embrace the privacy of working from home and enjoy some Deskercise!

    Dedicate 10 minutes each day to looking after your mental health and wellbeing by using mindfulness, relaxation or breathing techniques and practicing self-care.

    Be proactive in supporting your wellbeing. Research has found that there are 5 simple and easy actions we can take to help boost our mental health and wellbeing. Check out the 5 ways to wellbeing:

    • Connect

    Good relationships are important for your mental wellbeing. Try to connect with a colleague at least once a week and have a non-work related conversation. Arrange a coffee catch up for 10 minutes once a week, for example.

    • Give

    Doing good does you good! This could be a small act of kindness towards other people such as making someone a cup of tea, or larger ones like volunteering in your community or supporting a colleague with their work.

    • Keep learning

    Even if you feel you don’t have enough time, learning a new skill can boost our self-confidence and is great for our mental wellbeing. This can include cooking a new recipe or a new hobby that challenges you, such as writing a blog or learning to paint, or taking on a new responsibility at work.

    • Be active

    Being active is not only great for you physically, but is also associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety. You don’t need to spend hours exercising, but try to find activities you enjoy and make this part of your routine, such as walking.

    • Take notice

    This is when we stop going from task to task or one place to the next, and stop to reflect and actively bring our attention and interest to the world around us – or to ourselves – allowing us to be present in the moment. This can include mindfulness or paying attention to nature on a walk.

    Familiarise yourself with the resources and benefits available through your business. You never know when you might need them. Depending on the policy your employer has with us, Unum customers have access to:

    Lifeworks

    Unum customers have access to LifeWorks, our Employee Assistance Programme provided by Morneau Shepell. LifeWorks offers emotional and practical support to help tackle concerns affecting someone’s emotional wellbeing, including relationships, bereavement, stress and anxiety – at no additional cost. LifeWorks is confidential, easy to access and available 24/7, 365 days a year. It includes:

    • 24/7 helpline: Immediate and confidential access to qualified counsellors and experts, supporting your people on a broad range of topics whenever they need it
    • Financial assessments: Enabling people to feel in control of their finances with tailored recommendations to improve an individual’s overall financial wellbeing
    • Mental wellbeing support: Providing access to online modules, guidance and localised support to help employees receive professional care specific to their needs
    • Health and fitness plans including nutrition advice: Custom workout plans and nutritional advice to help you reach your health and fitness goals
    • Life event resources: Guidance on key life events such as moving home, becoming a parent, elder care or starting a new job
    • Legal advice on issues including consumer law, financial law, criminal law, neighbouring disputes and wills and probate. 

    And remember to look at all the great online resources available, such as articles, podcasts, infographics and toolkits on a range of topics covering family, health, life, money and work.

    Help@hand

    Help@hand from Unum offers access to a remote GP service, mental health and physiotherapy support and a second medical opinion service, for employees and their eligible family members, plus Unum’s LifeWorks EAP service – all through a single easy-to-use app.*

    Wellbeing Check

    If you’re struggling with your wellbeing, such as difficulty managing your workload, motivation, self-care, time management, the impact of COVID-19 or personal stressors, speak to your line manager to discuss a referral for a Wellbeing Check.*

    Mental Health Pathway

    If you have any mental health-related questions, or you’re unsure what services you need, please contact us at pathway@unum.co.uk to speak directly to one of our specialists.*

     

    *Available to Group Income Protection customers, at no extra cost

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