This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, we wanted to share a bit about how we’ve been looking to protect the Mental Health of our staff during lockdown. Read more about awareness week here
Our team, like many digital teams, are all working from home at the moment and although this has many positives for both COVID-19 and home/family life it also comes with its negatives and our Mental Health is an obvious and very important one.
Having read a few articles and posts around Zoom fatigue and what affect video calling has on people from a scientific perspective we decided to make some changes to our work routines. Below you’ll find some of the things we’ve put in place to help protect our team’s Mental Health during this time.
At the start of working from home, we needed ‘contact’ and interaction with each other; we’re a small team and Hannah (our Studio Manager) had only been with us for a week! Our call schedule, to begin with, was a Morning, Lunchtime and Afternoon call; this was brilliant for us but as we all found our rhythm and routine of working from home, it quickly became clear we needed to make a change. We’ve now dropped the Lunchtime call to give more space in the day and adjusted our Afternoon call to make it a quick audio-only catchup (more on that later).
Seeing yourself is exhausting and unnatural in ‘normal life’ conversations and Zoom has a great feature called Hide Self meaning that you can enjoy a video call without worrying about what you look like when you’re talking. It’s also totally acceptable to have your camera off, there are some days where we might just need a break from video calls; just let someone know so people aren’t waiting to see you.
Sometimes it’s nice to have a more traditional conference call (voice only), so for that, just minimise the Zoom window so you can’t see anyone. If we do screen sharing etc. we’ll make it obvious but sometimes it’s nice to switch the video off and just chat.
Before the lockdown, we’d normally call each other if we weren’t together, it’s a more natural communication tool than video so where you can, just give the person a ring on their phone or use an audio-only zoom call rather than a video call.
Our Afternoon calls are now audio-only calls allowing us to walk around while talking as well as removing the worry about what’s going on in the background, especially while working from home!
Try to use a different space (where possible) for your family and friends zoom catchups to your work ones; it gives you a helpful mental separation between the two types of calls. Even just facing a different direction makes a difference.
Do take coffee breaks, sofa breaks, walk breaks, playing with the kids breaks etc. it’s important to get the balance right. Using Slack’s built-in status feature we’ve added a couple of custom statuses; it’s a great way of a ‘no questions asked’ break. The two main ones we use are simply ‘Taking a break’ and ‘Having Lunch’.
The one condition with that is that if you’re working on a project with someone else, just give them a heads up before you go so they can ask any questions before you step away from the laptop.
Protect your Mental Health while working from home. Take breaks, go for walks, have lunch, turn off your video from time to time, hide yourself on video calls, pick up the phone but most importantly, ask for help.
If you’re struggling, speak to someone; that can be another member of the team, a family member or a friend. Life can be tricky at the best of times and being in lockdown can certainly make it harder.