Maintaining Good Relationships at Work and At Home

Monday, 23 March, 2020

Over the coming weeks, we will be issuing advice on how to work from home and maintain healthy relationships.

We all have times when we can’t cope. Stress, anxiety and depression will affect many of us at some point in our lives and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is no exception.

Dr Nicola Dann, a GP, director and founder of COHS (Commercial Occupational Health Services Ltd), said: “Both employers and employees are currently under high levels of stress and anxiety. Now, more than ever, we need to be sensitive to each other’s needs.

“Employers need to be talking to employees about their homeworking arrangements. Their needs may include children to look after and educate, caring for another family member or a disability to consider.

“With pressures mounting, employers should consider the overall health of their staff, including mental health and wellbeing, to prevent presenteeism in the workplace.

“By fully understanding needs, employers are in a better position to support employees while they adjust to remote working.

Dr Dann said work doesn’t just have a financial purpose, but it allows for social contact; something that is vitally important to our mental health and wellbeing.

“While working alone, employers and colleagues should pick up the phone and speak directly with their co-workers to provide moral support, rather than just sending emails.

“Both employers and employees need to remain practical and flexible to meet both work and personal needs during the current crisis,” she said.

“If they have not already done so, employers need to review their flexible working policies so that reasonable adjustments can be made. Once agreed, those arrangements should be written down, so everyone has realistic expectations of what is expected of them.”

Sam Wells, Wellbeing Co-ordinator for COHS, has put together a few healthy tips for people’s relationships when working from home.

She advised couples currently working from home, to find separate workspaces and to put boundaries in place.

“Work gives many people a focus and a role. Not only does it provide social interaction, but it gives many a welcome distraction from other pressures in life.

“Now is more important than ever that we support one another both physically and emotionally,” said Sam.

“Agree with your employer what hours you will work and stick to those hours as much as possible.

“To help you to keep to those boundaries, try to limit reading work emails to just your laptop.

“If more than one of you is working from home, it is important to respect each other’s jobs and space. Try having a code word for when it becomes too stressful, so your partner knows to give you some space or time alone. This could diffuse arguments before they happen.

“Take regular breaks together – whether that is as a couple or as a family. A walk before work will help you to prepare for the workday and a walk after work will help you to winddown. Remember to maintain appropriate social distance around other people.

“Take a lunch break away from your work area and computer, even if you wouldn’t normally.

“Find a routine and stick to it. Make sure you get up at a regular time and ensure children do the same to help them to differentiate between worktime and downtime.

“Breathe! Don’t put pressure on yourself. This is an unprecedented situation. No one expects perfection ever – especially not now.”

She suggested now was a good time to find a new hobby that can be enjoyed from home.

“It is important to stay mentally and physically active. Spend time in nature or find a new hobby that gives you time just for you. Try cooking, exercising or watching a good film together. Make a phone call to check on a loved one, friend or neighbour. Take a long bath, eat well, stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep,” said Sam.

World Health Organisation