How we’re working from home during lockdown
How we're working from home during lockdown
As the UK enters its second strict COVID-19 lockdown, many members of NCH&C staff are settling in for another period of working from home.
From 5 November 2020, the Government advises all employees to work from home if it is possible for them to do so.
Of course, working from home isn’t an option for everyone: our clinical staff need to come into our community hospitals and visit people’s homes to care for them. Likewise, some of our support staff need to work onsite to provide the best service for our staff and patients. However, those that can will be working from home more regularly to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
While many people have been working from home for several months, it can still be an unusual experience that takes some getting used to.
We spoke to a few of our remote-working colleagues to gather their thoughts on how they achieve a work-life balance while working from home.
If anyone is struggling with the transition, please do remember: you’re not just working from home. You’re working from home in the middle of a pandemic.
Tarandeep Dhillon-Smith, Programme Manager, Projects and Investment Team
“Months on, as we continue to work from home, I have realised that the traditional work-life balance I had in my life has started to morph into work-life integration. Work life integration is defined as “an approach that creates more synergies between all areas that define ‘life’: work, home/family, community, personal well-being, and health.”
“Removing strict boundaries between work and personal life have given me the flexibility to adapt my work and my personal life around each other. Being able to pick up my son from nursery during the day and make up time by working at evenings has given me the flexibility to spend the right time doing the right thing for my family. It also helps me manage the pressures that can come from being a mum who works full time.
“This might not be possible for all job roles, might not work on all days, or might not be preferred by all. Being a fan of boundaries, I was surprised how much of a benefit I have achieved from looking on a weekly view instead of a daily view – focussing on a work week of 37.5 hours during a full week instead of completing the same number of hours each day. It has enabled to be the best I can be in all my work and life roles.”
Nina Parkinson, Occupational Therapist
“Working from home [during the first lockdown] was a completely new way of working for me” said Nina, an OT. “My husband was also working from home and we have two children of school age, so those early weeks of lockdown were challenging.”
“Team working is really important in my role, so we have been using MS Teams a lot to communicate and update each other. Especially in those early days, it helped us feel less isolated and more connected. We’d have team discussions about how we were going to adapt to the changes and ensure everyone was safe whilst still being able to do our job. So whilst not perfect, actually seeing people on Teams was really good. It wouldn’t have been the same over email or the phone.
“Balancing home-schooling, childcare in general, and both my husband and I working in jobs that are so reliant on face-to -face interaction has been tough. But everyone has had to adapt… Being able to get out in the fresh air in my garden or go for a walk to the woods to clear my head and let the kids run free has been brilliant.”
Ian Bell, Head of Learning Disabilities
Ian doesn’t have an official base as he works as part of the integrated team and manages teams across Norfolk. Here’s how he’s found working from home during lockdown:
“It’s been great to adapt my working space to how I work best. I like to have music on, whereas I know other people need silence.”
Ian feels it is important to separate work and home life when your work is suddenly so visibly in your home: “Blurring the lines between work and home means you may not ever feel like you aren’t working, especially during lockdown when opportunities to go out to other places have been so limited. “I found getting up and getting ready in the morning as if I am actually going in to work helps me focus. I even put my shoes on. Just the routine of getting ready for work helps me differentiate between home/leisure time and home/work time.”
“I was talking about exercise with one of my managers in supervision, we both missed some kind of commute to wind down after a day at work. I told them about how I create my own ‘commute’ at the end of each/most days with a walk or a bike ride where you mentally leave the ‘home as office’ and return to ‘home as home’. It might sound a bit odd, but it creates separation and helps me feel to feel like I have left work and arrived home. It doesn’t have to be much, just a 20-minute walk round the block definitely helps.”