Self-Isolation & Social Distancing:
Working from home

Following Government Guidance, many employees are now working from home where possible. While this does come with some perks, for example, not having to get up so early and less time commuting, it is a big change from the social environment of an office. Some tips to help you stay pro-active and feeling connected to your co-workers include:


For some people staying in their pyjamas all day is the most appealing aspect of working from home. However, having a shower and getting dressed is an important aspect of psychologically preparing you for work, and helps separate home from work life. It doesn’t necessarily need to be full business attire, but changing into different clothes from what you slept in helps you to feel refreshed and means you won’t be left embarrassed if your boss gives you an unscheduled video call!


Having a quick chat with the person next to you, or making a cup of tea are common occurrences in the office, and serve to give you a break from your screen and sitting. Without anyone to interact with at home, it can be easy to forget to take regular breaks. Stock up on a nice selection of herbal teas so you have a reason to regularly get up and go to the kitchen. Setting an alarm reminder on your calendar telling you to get up and walk around every 30 minutes is also a good idea. Try doing a short sharp burst of exercise (sometimes referred to as “exercise snacking”) during each of these breaks. For example, 20 jumping jacks or 10 push-ups whilst the kettle boils.


While some people find it easier to work in the quiet at home, for others there are plenty of distractions (especially if other members of your household are also home or the kids are off school!)  Set yourself up a dedicated working area, ideally in a quiet or spare room (not your bedroom), with a comfortable chair and by a window. If you can, try and find a spare computer monitor and keyboard, so that you don’t have to sit hunched over a small laptop, and keep your work area clean and tidy. Even little touches like having a plant on your desk can make a big difference. 


Stick to your normal working hours as much as possible. If this isn’t possible due to child-care, speak to your company about flexible working (for example starting slightly earlier or finishing slightly later in the day). As much as possible try and stick to the same routine each day, so that you still have dedicated social and work time, despite them being in the same place. 


Staying connected to what is going on with your company and work colleagues is important so that you continue to feel part of a team. Schedule regular phone or skype calls to catch up with what people are working on, how they are feeling, and if there is any way you can support each other more. Even just having a general non-work related chat should be encouraged to prevent people feeling isolated.


Even when social distancing, it is important that people try and get daily exercise and time outdoors for fresh air and to top up on vitamin D (an important nutrient for immune health). If you have a garden or balcony, it is best to stay at home as much as possible and spend time in these outdoors spaces. If you don’t have any outdoor space at home, head to a local park, woods or green space but try and go at times likely to be less busy, make sure you stay at least 2 meters away from others and wash your hands well when you get home. Don’t be tempted to travel to the countryside or popular nature spots, as this risks large groups of people congregating and spreading infections to rural areas with more limited health care facilities.


Without the watchful eyes of managers, it can be tempting to look at your personal phone more when working from home. To prevent distractions leave it in another room and only check it during dedicated break times. You can also switch on the screen time function, which tells you just how much time you have spent looking at your screen each day, which can be a bit of a shock!


One danger with working from home is that your kitchen cupboards and fridge are just in the next room, so it can be tempting to snack throughout the day (especially as there isn’t much else to do on your breaks). Constant grazing coupled with reduced activity from lack of commute or less exercise is likely to lead to weight gain and also isn’t great for your digestion. Try and avoid snacking as much as possible, and instead stick to 3 meals a day, perhaps putting more effort into making a delicious lunch instead, seeing as you have cooking facilities available. Avoid stocking up on unhealthy snacks, and instead opt for healthy options such as fruit (fresh, frozen, tinned in juice), unsalted nuts, or oatcakes and hummus.