“Try and create a workspace for yourself.”
“Wear office clothes even when you work from home to stay motivated.”
“Stick to a schedule.”
“Ensure you have non-work-related conversations with your colleagues.”
It’s been over a year since the pandemic became the focal point of our lives, and we’ve heard these tips several times over. So,why should we keep having this conversation on well-being at our workplaces?
Many of us spend at least 7-9 hours at work every day. Our jobs take up most of our waking hours, and it is essential to cultivate a healthy workplace culture to help employees feel supported. The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about increased levels of personal stress for many. These range from logistical difficulties of procuring medical assistance for those infected to finding sustainable ways to remain safe from the virus.
Our work lives have stopped existing in isolation since we began working from home—personal and professional lives bleed into each other. Studies have found working from home significantly impacts a person’s physical and mental health and overall quality of life. What was restricted as “home life” and “work-life” thanks to our daily commute and movement around another physical space has now become a trip from the bedroom to the work table. While this has given us more time, the new experience of having to share the same roof for work and home life has impacted our personal well-being, specifically our diet, sleep, and exercise.
A workplace is also a vital community for everyone who’s a part of it. It’s often the only community for many. Our social interactions with colleagues during lunch breaks, coffee breaks, or evening walks have entirely stopped. Remote work has also changed the equation we share with colleagues for non-work-related conversations. A conscious effort towards creating a culture that fosters allyship is often one of the most powerful support systems provided for many.
I found the safe space created by my colleagues very helpful in navigating my growing anxiety about the world around me. The privilege of this was also evident when numerous friends reached out about being unable to focus on work and not having anyone who could tell them, “Yes, I completely understand that feeling.”
We may have heard “tips to manage work from home” several times over, but the ever-changing social landscape and growing uncertainty around the pandemic continues to throw new challenges. The relationship between work and health is complex, but continued conversations around well-being are timely reminders to ourselves and our colleagues to focus on our overall wellness.