What do you need to think about as a colleague, manager or leader to help manage stress, increase mood and motivation when you’re working from home?
Keeping morale high and getting in good routines are essential to keep feelings of anxiety and isolation at bay, while keeping teams together.
We have put together a starter for 10 below, but we want to hear from you, to create an online community which you can join by searching the hashtag #LawscotWellbeing on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. For a lot of us in the profession, we’re working from home regularly for the first time. Sharing top tips and insights is beneficial to others, while at the same time reminds ourselves we are part of the wider legal profession and have a support network there.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be asking you for your homeworking hacks on a different theme each week. Watch our website, social media channels and Lawscot News for more.
1. Bookend your days
It’s easy for the working day to bleed into time for homelife, which will mean you just don’t switch off. By having a clear start and end to the day, it’ll give you some time to readjust. Perhaps you could simulate a commute, by going out for exercise before logging on in the morning, or after you close your laptop at the end of the working day. Simple rituals like getting changed into specific work clothes, or making your usual morning coffee might also help. Encourage your team to do the same.
2. Make sure all staff know what work is business-critical and what’s not
With many businesses working truly remotely for the first time, coupled with a lot of people seeking advice at this confusing time, workloads are likely spiking in the legal profession. Work will be more manageable if the essentials are clearly communicated so they can be done first, but also people understanding what can fall by the wayside if necessary. Share this information with staff at all levels, so everyone knows what’s expected of them and make sure everyone’s working to a common goal.
3. Schedule regular formal and informal team meetings
It’s important everyone feels kept in the loop while physically isolated from a team. Run a standing daily business meeting to keep in touch with immediate colleagues. But also think about running a social ‘tea break’ call every day, whether as a whole team where people can choose to take part, or as a one to one with a colleague, maybe rotating round or ensuring people are buddied up.
4. Encourage employees to openly share issues with remote working
It’s important people know they’re not going to get into trouble or be criticised for coming up against challenges when this is a new way of working. Are people having difficulties keeping clients informed? Finding it hard to focus juggling homeworking with family life? Is there a struggle to complete work in the time available? Make sure everyone can talk about what they’re finding hard and get the team to come up with solutions together.
5. Improve your digital connectivity
Making sure you can keep in touch is essential. If your organisation doesn’t have a video-chatting/conferencing software in place, you can download loads of products for free such as Skype and Zoom. It’s much easier to speak to a group of people over a video platform and seeing people’s faces might make you feel more connected.
6. Remember your manager isn’t a superhuman
This is a busy time for everyone, but some people will have extra business responsibilities and additional stresses such as HR issues, IT, retaining business and ensuring staff are okay. As a manager, you need to kick off a wellbeing plan as your team needs to be leader-led, but can you share responsibilities with other members of the team to ensure good practice is followed? For employees, rather than leaning exclusively on your manager, could you be looking for peer-support, or leading on elements of work yourself? Be patient with your colleagues where you can and mindful of what else they may have on their plates.
7. Be proactive with putting out information to clients
If your inboxes are getting overwhelmed and your phones are ringing, one of the big things that can help is to be proactive in putting out information to your clients. Even if this means simply putting a statement on the homepage of your website to help reassure people that you are working on a solution, while alerting them that you’re dealing with a high number of enquiries and requesting that people be patient or get in touch with urgent matters only. Use social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn too, if you have them. Use your out of office messages to let people know you’ll get back to them as soon as you can, or redirect them with a link to more information on your website.
8. Make sure you keep moving
Social distancing doesn’t mean forgoing exercise or staying still, and it’s more important than normal to find ways to keep yourself healthy if you’re not leaving your home to go to work. Being outdoors helps maintain perspective and boost your mood. If you can, exercise outside or just go for a walk, but ensure you follow social distancing guidance. Even indoors you could walk while you’re on a call, or take time for a stretch in between bouts of emails - it can be easy to forget to take a break when you're out of your normal routine.
9. Buy yourself some time if your inbox is overflowing
If you keep getting replies back instantly to your emails and a growing inbox, try putting a delay on messages, even for an hour. Then, even if people do reply immediately to an email, it’s not straightaway in real-time. Unless your work is very time-critical, this is not likely to have a major impact on service provision but will give you some breathing space as you work through your emails and regain some control.
10. Trust your teammates
Some people have more experience than others working from home and it’ll take longer for some to adapt. The response to the Covid-19 outbreak has essentially given us all an enforced agile working trial. Assume trust until it’s broken. You’ll likely find that most people are finding a way to work as hard as they can.
Follow the hashtag #LawscotWellbeing to see the hints, tips and stories your legal colleagues share over the next few weeks.
There are also many articles, webinars, charities and more online; a simple search will get you lots of new ideas.