How to adjust to working from home: COVID-19 Guidelines

Corporate Wellness Week is a national awareness campaign that seeks to highlight the importance of developing a healthy work environment (Corporate Wellness Week 2018, 2018).

Written By Ms. Mmehela Giveness Kumbi

Author writes in her capacity as a member of the PsySSA Student Division, a division of the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA).

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a steep increase of infections in different parts of the world. Notably, countries with high infection rates had to implement lockdown conditions to limit the spread and number of infections (Frissa & Dessalegn, 2020). As such, the reality of the lockdown meant that most of the normal activities as we know them were put on hold. The lockdown saw workers having to work from home. Consequently, individuals needed to quickly adapt to the “new normal”, this means we had to learn new ways to cope and carry on with our lives as much as possible (Ho, Chee & Ho, 2020; Plomecka et al, 2020). Psychologically this enforced change negatively impacted people’s psychological wellbeing. As such, employees find themselves struggling to deal with the shift from working from the office to a home setting.

Based on this backdrop, it is evident that employees suffered due to the unanticipated change in their work arrangements (Madhi et al., 2020).  This article provides guidelines to assist employees to cope with working from home.

The importance of the Guidelines.

The guidelines will provide support to employees in understanding that whatever they are going through they are not in this alone. Most employees may feel alone and isolated with the lockdown and working from home. The guidelines provide clarity to individuals in that one needs to continue with an already established daily work routine to limit disengagement and low productivity. The reality is we need to adjust, carry on, and remain productive through performing our tasks effectively.

Below are Guidelines to enhancing coping strategies while working from home.

  1. Communication: Keeping in touch with close family and friends

Effective communication and sharing thoughts with those around you, colleagues, family, and friends can boost your self-esteem and boost levels of resilience.  You can also launch a social support network group where you share different experiences and tips for encouragement.

  1. Set clear boundaries for daily activities

To avoid unnecessary disruptions, you may need to limit your activities with family or around your home.

  1. Mindfulness: Keep in track with your thoughts

Practicing mindfulness and keeping good thoughts will enhance your productivity and lower your levels of anxiety. Mindfulness includes breathing exercises; or watching a few funny videos on YouTube, etc.; making time to do something you are passionate about or would like to learn to do.

  1. Keep a daily routine and avoid procrastinating.

As you would normally prepare for work daily, keep the same energy. Wake up as if you are going to work. Keep a list of the tasks you need to do for the day. Draft a realistic timeframe and prioritise certain activities and avoid delaying those tasks.

  1. Avoid exposure to negative news (Pandemic related)

One needs to limit their exposure in watching or reading news that can disrupt your peace. Additionally, do not entertain information that is not validated as misinformation can create panic.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group further encourages organisations to advise their employees to seek help from their employee wellness programs (Hamdulay, 2020). Some employees might experience burnout and increased stress levels, so these programmes should be of assistance.

References

Frissa, S., & Dessalegn, B. W. S. (2020). The mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: Implications for sub-Saharan Africa.

Hamdulay, D., 2020. South African Depression And Anxiety Group. [online] Sadag.org. Available at: <http://www.sadag.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2279:manage-mental-illness-in-the-workplace&catid=61&Itemid=143>

Ho, C. S., Chee, C. Y., & Ho, R. C. (2020). Mental health strategies to combat the psychological impact of COVID-19 beyond paranoia and panic. Ann Acad Med Singapore49(1), 1-3.

Madhi, S. A., Gray, G. E., Ismail, N., Izu, A., Mendelson, M., Cassim, N., … & Venter, F. (2020). COVID-19 lockdowns in low-and middle-income countries: Success against COVID-19 at the price of greater costs. South African Medical Journal.

Plomecka, M. B., Gobbi, S., Neckels, R., Radziński, P., Skórko, B., Lazerri, S., … & Ashraf, Z. (2020). Mental Health Impact of COVID-19: A global study of risk and resilience factors. medRxiv.

Safmh.org.za. 2018. Corporate Wellness Week 2018. [online] Available at: <https://www.safmh.org.za/index.php/news/item/178-corporate-wellness-week-2018>

Sohrabi, C., Alsafi, Z., O’Neill, N., Khan, M., Kerwan, A., Al-Jabir, A., … & Agha, R. (2020). World Health Organization declares global emergency: A review of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). International Journal of Surgery.

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