How we work during lockdown
What can I do if I am feeling isolated when working remotely?
Steps you can take
Feeling isolated at times of change is not unusual, you are not alone and many people will be feeling this way too. Recognising this and thinking about your options is a really positive step that can help you to take action. Some of the activities and resources that people find helpful are outlined below.
Working remotely means we may miss those everyday encounters with colleagues that normally happen spontaneously. If you find that you’re not involved with regular meetings and conversations, take action and invite others for virtual chats or set up online meetings to bounce ideas around; it’s surprising how engaging online interaction can be.
Identify a ‘work mate’ or buddy who you can talk informally to. It can make a huge difference when we share our worries with others and connect with other people who are supportive. It doesn’t always need to be someone in your own department or job family.
Virtual staff groups
Consider joining one of the University’s nine staff groups, as they are keeping in touch with members throughout these uncertain times.
Staying connected with others can help reduce stress levels, ease loneliness and stay productive. Regular discussions with others about what you’re working on, what support you might need and how they can get involved may be beneficial all round. It also helps to speak regularly to your manager or PDR reviewer.
Say how you feel
Try to communicate your feelings of isolation with your line manager and other colleagues. We are all in together and starting a discussion with your manager can help to identify ways to address the situation. You could request more regular catch ups to help you feel more connected, or there could be some wellbeing related tasks in your School/Department you could get involved with.
Mental health first aiders
Consider getting in touch with your School or Professional Services Mental Health First Aider who can signpost you to some useful internal resources and support or direct you to external help. Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA) are not trained therapists or counsellors and are not there to give advice. They are there to provide initial support, signposting to appropriate professional help, or to just simply listen or have a chat. Please don’t feel you need to be in absolute crisis to contact our MHFAs.
If you would rather speak to an MHFA outside of your School or if you don’t know where to access Mental Health First Aiders, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your preferred contact details and an MHFA will aim to get in touch within 48 hours. Please note that this is a confidential inbox administered by the mental health first aiders within the Organisational Development team. This e-mail address will only be used to signpost to an MHFA and is not an information or advice service. To find out more about Mental Health First Aid, please visit our dedicated webpage.
The right to disconnect
It’s also important to remember that disconnecting is just as important as connecting. Zoom quizzes and social get togethers are fast becoming our new social events and keep us in touch with our friends and family. However, if you’ve spent all day long in hours of various video conferences and meetings already it can sometimes feel overwhelming. As we entered lockdown, the emphasis was all on connecting, but do remember that our minds need to rest throughout the day and every day.
Structuring your day
Occupational Health Manager, Sarah Van Zoelen provides the following tips:
- Think about what you’re going to wear- the prospect of staying in your pyjamas all day may feel like one of the best aspects of working from home but, washing and getting dressed will not only improve your state of mind, it will psychologically prepare you to start work.
- Establish some boundaries - where possible, stick to your normal hours of work. At the end of your working day, switch off the computer and tidy away desk clutter so that you can start the next day afresh.
- Get out and about (if you're not self-isolating) - Exercise is free and a key way to reduce anxieties and calm your body and mind.
- Take regular breaks - our bodies aren’t meant to sit in the same position in front of a laptop all day. Research has found that short breaks throughout the day are more beneficial than less frequent, longer breaks.
- Manage your exposure to the news and social media - The constant stream of information can be exhausting and lead to repetitive negativity and fear. Manage your time to allow only short bursts of exposure to keep you up to date with the changes.
- Develop a new family timetable - It will be impossible to maintain normal routines, especially for those who have children at home instead of at school. Create a new structure – factor in scheduled times for work, exercise and fun along with some downtime for everyone in the household.
Overcoming Feelings of Isolation - Available resources
Physical and mental health and wellbeing
A range of resources to support both mental and physical wellbeing can be found in the ‘You are not alone’ section of the staff wellbeing pages. Loughborough Sport have also launched a new Loughborough Sport Lockdown site offering a range of workouts, challenges and competitions to help you stay physically fit. Additionally, MHFA England have produced some helpful resources on self-care tips for working from home.
The University have just launched a mental wellbeing app for all students and staff members. LU Wellbeing has been developed in partnership with mental health and wellbeing experts at UniWellbeing. The platform enables members of the Loughborough Family to take control of their health and wellbeing in their own hands to ultimately lead a healthy and happier lifestyle. LU Wellbeing is free to download on any smart device and can be found on the App Store or Google Play.
‘My possible self’ is an NHS approved online wellbeing platform and for the duration of the pandemic is free of charge. It features learning modules, using clinically proven research from The Black Dog Institute, and will teach you coping mechanisms to handle situations life may throw your way.
Learning and development
As well as focusing on your physical and mental health and wellbeing, you may want to spend this period of time focusing on your learning and development. There is a large wealth of resources available for you to focus on a number of different areas for professional development in areas such as digital skills, project management and more. Further details can be found here.