Advice column: having to work from home, I’m missing interaction with colleagues and getting outside
Dear Ash

I have been told to work from home in response to the coronavirus pandemic; and although it has been challenging trying to juggle children and housework with work deadlines, I have tried to cope as best as I can. However, I am finding working from home is impacting on my mental wellbeing.

I normally interact with colleagues throughout the day in the office and look to catch up with friends at lunchtimes or at least pop to the shops to get some fresh air and lunch. However, at home I often do not get dressed up; I also don’t tend to break for lunch and am finding the lack of social interaction quite depressing. I’m not sure how to make myself more motivated and to find more structure in my routine.

Ash replies:

Current events are unprecedented and we are all trying to find our way around a new set of circumstances. The lack of social interaction is of course key to the management of the outbreak; however, social interaction using digital technology is a good way of at least ensuring some form of socialising. Some people have been quite inventive in setting up regular group chats via Skype or Zoom. This not only provides good social interaction but also motivates most to make more effort with their appearance, something you claim you are struggling with. Therefore try to set up regular online catchup not only with colleagues but also separately with your friends – perhaps during lunchtime or straight after your working day.

There is nothing wrong with you wearing more comfortable clothing whilst working from home; indeed it is more practical, especially as you may have to deal with children or essential chores in between work tasks. However, it is also important to feel good about yourself, therefore try to give yourself a boost by establishing a routine to get ready for work as you normally would when getting ready for the office; however, just look to wear more casual clothing.

Breaks are important too. Just because you are not in the office doesn’t mean you are not entitled to that coffee or tea break, or indeed lunch break that you would normally take in the office. You need to ensure that taking such breaks becomes an essential part of your routine, as it is important for your mental health. Setting particular times for these breaks should also help to motivate you by ensuring that key tasks are achieved prior to breaks. Also consider taking a walk in your garden if you have one, or doing some indoor exercise to help increase your levels of endorphins. In short, find ways to help yourself adjust to your new surroundings; and be assured that you are not alone in feeling the way you do. Keep positive and keep safe.

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and other legal professionals, which can be put to her via the editor: peter@connectcommunications.co.uk. Confidence will
be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team. For one-to-one advice contact Katie Wood, head of admissions on 0131 476 8162, or by email: KatieWood@lawscot.org.uk

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