Leadership

How to disconnect work from home life during lockdown

By June 12, 20202 Comments

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I didn’t expect this situation to rumble along for as long as it has. Whether you agree or not with the speed with which we went into lockdown in the first place is another matter and no doubt that will be a conversation that will go on for some time, but it is important to recognise the challenges that have gradually built up over this period.

We were all forced into something unexpected, yet the energy shown across the country to switch from office to home was amazing. For some though, this was perhaps a harder process than it was for others due to the technological adaptations that needed to be made; I did hear that implementing such change could take years, yet it was all done in the space of a few weeks. The Government’s website to accept the applications of business support is a case in point.

What has become clear though after speaking to several leaders, is the initial adrenalin of the first couple of months has started to wane and the link between work and home life has become a little clouded. And whilst the amount of people exercising has increased, the actual number of footsteps we are all taking has dropped considerably. The walk to the office, the walk to the train station, and the walk out of the office for lunch have all disappeared, but the most notable thing linking all of those is the fact that, without making a conscious effort, we no longer have that time to prepare ourselves for the day ahead, or indeed that time to put everything aside before we walk through the door to greet our families. As a Firstbeat Lifestyle Assessment provider, we always look out for opportunities to recover, both at night-time and during the day. Yet moving from your place of work (my bedroom or even the car in my case) to the heartbeat of the house where your loved ones are only a few steps away, is hardly a perfect environment to create that mental space from the load you have experienced with work. Without deciding to do something different, we end up with this cumulative effect of stress that builds up and we don’t give ourselves the ‘distance’ to separate work and home. This is definitely not conducive for a high level of performance.

 

So, what can be done personally how can you help others?

The first thing to say is that having an ability to disconnect requires discipline, in thought and in action. I know this is easy to say and perhaps a little harder to act upon, but if we don’t make an effort to separate our work life from our home life, it will naturally have an impact on our relationships with others. If you need 10 minutes space before you get hit by a toy or a teenage argument, ask yourself how that would be possible. Who or what do you need to consider when making this decision? And if this has an impact on someone else, is there anything you can do in return to help them? The main thing would be to create a plan for yourself and stick it in your diary.

The second thing is to create your boundaries with emails. I am sure it is very tempting to send someone in your team a quick question at 10pm when an idea has come into your head. However, think about the impact that this could have on the receiver. Do they feel obliged to reply immediately, or can it wait? I am sure you will all say you don’t expect a reply, but does your team genuinely know that?

Finally, if you find yourself moving only a few steps a day from your bedroom, to the kitchen, to your workspace, back to the kitchen and back to bed, ask yourself what you can do to create opportunities to recover and to get some well needed fresh air.

There is short guide here on my website that you can download. Think of it as your cheat sheet to performing under pressure, but there are definitely some things in there that are definitely applicable now. Just fill out the form on the home page and it will be with you soon.

Keep safe!

2 Comments

  • Kevin Murphy says:

    Good day Charlie,
    Could not agree more with your views.
    I am involved with mental health awareness in the workplace and it was realised very quickly that isolation was also a problem in lockdown. We looked at making sure your day was divided into designated slots. Work time, exercise, cooking and household duties. For us it was to reduce the stress of isolation but it seems it would also work in families. Dad/Mum are at work, exercise, etc. As a Grandad, I have alway found kids understand rules as long as you stick to them.

  • John says:

    Hi Charlie,

    Great piece and it really resonates with me right now!

    Our management team our having a focussed discussion around this on Monday and would welcome any supporting info/advice you could send me on how to approach this with our leaders.

    Cheers,
    John

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