The Distributed Teams Support Series Part II: Your Wellbeing
Let’s face it. There is no shortage of information in the digital sphere about wellbeing at work. But there aren’t tons of pre-written guides out there tailored to this unique situation. One day we all got up and went to work as normal and the next we stayed at home where we continue to stay. This is working remotely set to the shared backdrop of a global pandemic. We have seen it bring out a culture of community, but it’s also one shrouded in uncertainty and change, which challenges our wellbeing.
We carry around our wellbeing with us. It’s not something that’s fixed at work, but we are used to having our pillars that support it, built into our day. It might be the gym session for some, meditation for another, and walking the dog for someone else. For many, these have either been limited or are now out of bounds, so not only are some people trying to adapt to their new circumstances, many have to adjust their usual wellbeing supports. This takes a willingness, ingenuity, trial and error and of course time. But how can we do it, and what has it got to do with working as part of a distributed team?
Firstly, our wellbeing is paramount, and secondly, we can’t work if we are not well. It matters in both your professional and personal life as they are all part of your life. What can we do to look after it during this time? The short answer is plenty, but here are our top 11 ways to look after your wellbeing right now while working as part of a distributed team.
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings
It’s an incredibly strange time and with it, comes an array of feelings, often in waves. It’s essential you acknowledge them when they come up. Firstly, for your wellbeing but also for your productivity. Whatever you are holding on to can block you moving forward in both a personal and professional capacity. Express it.
If it’s work related, make sure you know who the go-to person is, and go to them. If it’s personal, take five with a trusted friend or partner. We are all in this together at the moment and it will bring up challenges for everyone but it’s crucial not to silently hold on to them. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to anyone about them, write down what’s bothering you. Releasing whatever it is, helps lighten the internal load.
2. Create Your Space
You need your environment to support your work as best you can. This will be different for everyone. Some of you might be sharing a kitchen table with a housemate or there might be children around too. Not everyone has the luxury of a home office without interruptions so this might call for you to be creative.
Do what you can to create a nice space for yourself that you like to be in. This can be as simple as sitting in your favourite chair, putting artwork on your desk, having good lighting or being in the room with the best internet speed. Make sure you have a plan when it comes to making and taking calls so they don’t become a stress. Any small effort you can make in this area for yourself to support your wellbeing will pay off.
3. Normalise What You Can
Do what you can to normalise your situation. You might like to dress for work in the morning, take your lunch at the regular time or chat with the friend you’d usually meet for coffee every Thursday. Whatever it is that you are in control of normalising and that you would like to, then do it. It’s another way to stay focused throughout your week in what is already a displaced working environment.
When it comes to you interacting with them, it mustn’t be limited to occasional project updates in the form of lean emails. You must check-in with your people and find out how they are doing. For example, schedule a weekly video call on top of the regular checks-ins.Strengthening the relationships you have with your distributed team is just as important as the efforts you would make in the office.
4. Have Realistic Expectations
To put it simply, don’t be too hard on yourself. All you can do is all you can do. Expecting the same level of output and response you have in work, immediately at home, isn’t rational. Have realistic expectations of yourself and others. It will take everyone a while to get into a groove, and even then, this will happen for everyone at a different rate.
This is worth keeping in mind when it comes to you and your team trying to stay on track and achieve your goals. If your expectations are not aligned for example, or you don’t have the supports you need to move your work forward, you’ll hit a roadblock. To avoid this, don’t expect things to automatically work the same way as the office. It’s much easier for things to get overlooked while working remotely as a team and during a transition. Flag something if it needs to be flagged.
5. Take Breaks
There is a lot more self-management required when you are working in a distributed team. Be sure to take breaks to catch your breath and re-energise. When and if you can, go outside. Research shows that less than 10 minutes in nature can lower your stress and anxiety. Depending on your situation and the weather, maybe you can even work outside
6. Connect With Your Community
You must connect with your teams and colleagues at the moment. Having a video call has a more human touch so ensure these are part of your week. It’s also vital to include occasions to link in with each other that aren’t just for work. Have a virtual lunch scheduled and bring your food with you. Working remotely can become isolated and lonely, so it’s imperative to retain the connectivity of the office to keep morale up and as a way to support one another.
7. Look After Your Physical Health
This doesn’t mean you have to do thirty minutes of cardio before you start your day. It can come in the form of eating nutritious meals to boost your immune system for example. Perhaps it could be going for walks or doing some gentle exercise or even something like sitting in a supportive desk-chair. These efforts help you protect your physical wellbeing by staying safe as well as the added bonus of clearing your mind and boosting your mood.
8. Find A Practice
It might be mindfulness, yoga, a hit-workout, journaling, dancing, gardening, cooking or baking. Find something – that isn’t work – that works for you. We all need supports in our newfound environment that keeps us grounded and helps us manage, express or relieve our stress consistently and healthily.
9. Minimise Your Media Consumption
It’s hard to avoid all the digital distractions. But if you can reduce your consumption of the news, or designate a time to check your social media accounts, it will give you space, and contribute to a sense of peace rather than the panic and sensory overload that comes with it all – not forgetting the productivity benefits too.
If you are finding this tricky, turn off your notifications, temporarily unsubscribe from news updates or have a separate browser for your work. Be mindful of the media you choose to consume. When it comes to your downtime, it might be an idea to favour something from the feel-good category rather than another crime documentary.
10. Finish On Time
One of the biggest challenges to working from home is switching off from work when your working day is done. Physically leaving work is one thing, but mentally leaving it is another. Give yourself a cut-off point and stick to it. Then mark it by either taking a short walk or setting an alarm at that time. Something that says to you, ‘I’m finished for the day and cannot come back to it until the morning’. Then walk away and enjoy your evening. If you don’t draw a line in the sand, you risk burning out.
11. Take It One Day At A Time
It’s difficult not to let our minds race as the situation is changing daily, and we try to find individual normality amidst global chaos. We can plan all we want but a good way to navigate this is to take it one day at a time. That’s all anyone can really expect of us right now, and all you can expect from yourself.
Your wellbeing is a priority, and only you can make it the top one. This is crucial for you as a person but also for those around you and your work. You are part of a team where you need everyone to do their best to manage themselves, look after their health and their stress levels. And they need it from you too. Take time to figure out what works for you and be open to that changing. If you do this, you’ll find you will be able to face whatever challenges come your way without your wellbeing feeling the impacts.
At times like this, we think it’s most important we come together as a community and look after our people.
If there’s anything we at Frankli can do to support you, whether you are an existing customer or not, please get in touch. We are here to help.