By Guy Osmond
Whilst plenty of research is readily available, you only have to compare lockdowns with friends or family to realise that many who found the first one comparatively easy have struggled with the second. Obviously, we now have colder, wetter weather and this makes it harder to find motivation to go outside and take exercise when you wake up and finish your working day in darkness. There is also the cumulative impact of months and months of dealing with the pandemic, worrying about family plans for Christmas, reduced work team interactions, Brexit and a host of other personal and employment issues.
The seasonal pressures on mental health have therefore increased since the first lockdown. We all know that natural light is essential to our health and many homeworkers have been subjected to sub-optimal levels even through the summer. Task lights on the desk can help address the lighting issue and many have a choice of light temperature and brightness to match the needs and circadian rhythm of the individual.
We also know that ‘bringing nature in’ can help. December is a great time to buy houseplants since the garden centres are full of Christmas present ideas. So buy yourself a present! Whatever your motivation (Something that’s bright - something that improves the air quality - something I can’t kill!), a visit to a garden centre will be good for you anyway. The RHS provides a lot more background on this topic, including a list of beneficial plants.
More simple tips for your mental health in and beyond Lockdown v2.0 can also be found here.
We all know that physical and mental health are interconnected and a significant rise in musculoskeletal problems is now becoming apparent amongst homeworkers. It is clear that many employers are still not getting to grips with the issue.
In the first lockdown, organisations did what they could at short notice with no understanding of what was to come, but many months have now passed and employers must recognise (and act on) their obligations for the health and wellbeing of their employees. At the very least, some form of active training should be provided. It is not enough to send out pdf guidance and assume staff are coping. Beyond that, it is time to carry out proper assessments and act on the findings. Many employers are stalling these processes for fear of opening a Pandora’s Box but future costs and impacts will be far more significant than addressing the issues and responding now. We may have a vaccine coming but it will be months before the current operational constraints are fully lifted and, even then, many will still – through choice or necessity - be homeworking for at least part of their typical week.
Our free Homeworking Tips webinars give excellent guidance and bespoke variants are also available at comparatively low cost for corporate delivery.We offer a full range of assessments, including virtual (through Zoom, Teams, WhatsApp, FaceTime and Google Meet), to suit client needs.