The number of people working exclusively from home has soared during the last year amid the restrictions put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19. While remote working has many benefits in normal situations, the stress of the pandemic coupled with shorter days and winter weather has made the third national lockdown in the UK more challenging.
This is why the management at Purecontent Media has started a fitness-based initiative to encourage employees to take breaks from screens and help them to manage a better work–life balance by partaking in regular exercise and getting outdoors where possible. The overall aims of the new fitness drive include:
- Protecting staff wellbeing and promoting healthier living
- Helping staff to remain engaged and maintain productivity
- Promoting fitness and fun during lockdown periods
The new staff team challenge has been rolled out using My Virtual Mission, an online hub that allows employees to plan and record their exercise activities, offering a visual representation of their progress, helping them to keep focused and motivated to achieve ‘smart’ goals.
Virtual journey from Cromer to St Davids
Four teams at Purecontent are now taking part in an exciting cross–country mission that will see them travel from Cromer, a town on the north coast of Norfolk, to the most easterly point in the county at Lowestoft, before heading across the middle of England to a final stop at St Davids in west Wales.
Employees across the company started the virtual trip through their own day-to-day exercise patterns back on 5th January, and are now still in friendly competition to be the first past the finishing line in Wales.
Outdoor pursuits are encouraged as part of the mission, but employees can contribute via many different forms of exercise, even if this is only a short yoga session before bed. All they have to do is use the activity conversion chart provided by My Virtual Mission to add a few extra miles to the clock.
Among the most worthwhile physical activities to complete at home is circuit training, as this converts to a single mile for every 10 minutes of exercise. While there are restrictions on many typical outdoor pursuits, an average 10-minute walk converts to around half a mile, which can really add up over a longer morning or evening stroll.
Addressing work-from-home challenges
Prolonged remote working can take some adjustment, especially for those who are more extroverted and get energy from connecting with other people.
- Set up a working routine – and stick to it
Ensuring that you keep a good work-life balance is crucial to your overall health and wellbeing. The key is to maintain your normal working hours, and to close the door when you finish working to help you switch off and get quality sleep time.
- Stay connected
Make time to check in with your team members and other colleagues, by phone or by using remote-working tools such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. You could even schedule in virtual ‘coffee breaks’ together.
- Set goals and to-do lists
End your working day by writing down any outstanding tasks to cleanse your mind. At the start of each new day, review your to-do list and add any new tasks that arise from checking your emails. Plan your day and set yourself realistic goals, but remember to include your usual lunch break.
- Balancing work and home responsibilities
Working from home can leave you open to more distractions from others in your household, such as children, bored pets or other family members. Try to be firm and build in time to spend with them during your lunch break.
Establishing routines to increase productivity
A healthier mind and body will better prepare you for remote work and make it easier for you to maintain your productivity throughout the day. You can also make simple changes to your routine and environment to boost your mood and get into the work zone.
You have probably carved out a temporary workspace by now, but it may be a good idea to look for something more permanent – in a study or second bedroom, for example – so that you can create a clear boundary between your work and personal life. If you have the equipment, you should try to create a dedicated workstation, with an ergonomic desk and chair where possible.
- Getting up and going to bed at the same time each day
- Maintaining regular working hours
- Scheduling ‘microbreaks’ away from screens
- Standing up and walking every hour or two to improve circulation
- Running through a set of basic exercises during lunch
- Getting fresh air and natural light at some point in the day
The key to productivity is also managing your peaks and troughs. It is impossible to be at peak productivity for eight hours, so know when you will be at your most attentive to complete core tasks. You can then reply to emails, for example, during slower periods.
Prioritising self-care and motivation
During the third lockdown, the concern and stress of real–life crises can make it difficult to stay positive at home, so it is vital to pay close attention to your mental health. This means prioritising self-care and establishing habits that put you in a happier place and keep you motivated. You should try to:
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day
- Get some fresh air at least once a day
- Spend time away from screens, especially after work
- Eat healthy meals and snacks to keep yourself energised
- Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated
- Practise yoga /mindfulness for relaxation
- Get at least seven hours of sleep
The activity sharing app Strava is another way to connect through exercise. It allows users to track and share cycling and running data, and chat with a like-minded community.
Making changes for the year ahead
Remote working is not going away. A new survey by Enterprise Technology Research (ETR) has forecast a two times increase in the number of people working permanently from home in 2021. With COVID-19-related restrictions likely to be in place for the foreseeable future, it is important that you take proactive measures to promote wellbeing and boost productivity levels so that you can complete work-based tasks and enjoy your day-to-day life.