by Natalie Ferguson | 20 April 2021
I am writing this almost 12 months to the day since I packed up my laptop, my diary, a few bits of stationery and my office chair (which turned out to be a great decision) and drove home from our Manchester city centre office, after being told we were all moving to remote working ‘for a while’.
My first feelings were ones of positivity – I wouldn’t miss the commute for a start! I was looking forward to a better work/life balance and felt safer working from home in those early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fast forward 12 months and I still don’t miss the commute but I do miss my colleagues and the buzz of the office. Of course, home working is nothing new. Working in the legal recruitment sector I often speak with legal locums who advocate the benefits of working from home. However, many childcare locums haven’t been able to take advantage of working from home before because of the need to attend court hearings.
Working as part of the legal public sector team at Sellick Partnership, we have witnessed increased demands on the childcare teams within local government as caseloads increase as a direct result of the pandemic; putting extra pressure on resource that is already stretched to the limit. Remote hearings have become the new normal and it appears for many this will continue into the future to varying degrees.
The challenges of working from home
For many, home working has made it more challenging to switch off in the evening or over the weekend. As a result, many people have found themselves inadvertently working longer hours.
Some people also miss the social interaction of working in the office – not having that wider support network of the children’s team around them can be really difficult. There is no longer the opportunity to offload to a colleague after a court hearing or have an impromptu one-to-one with a manager to ask for their advice on a particular care case. You may even be missing being able to process the day’s events and switch off on the commute home.
As home working to some degree is here to stay it is important to find ways to manage stress levels and learn to look after our own wellbeing; especially if you find yourself managing a very busy caseload of care proceedings and court hearings.
Top tips on how to look after mental, emotional and physical wellbeing
Maria Mander – Health and Wellbeing Specialist at The Growth Company
During a challenging period, your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing will fluctuate, so it is important to invest in yourself on a daily basis. To do this, check-in with yourself everyday to see how you are doing. What do you need right now? Do you have the right strategies to support yourself? Do you require support from others?
Make time for yourself
You are your greatest asset and you can’t run on empty. There are 24 hours in a day, so set aside 30 minutes into your day for you to switch off and relax, whether it is to watch your favourite TV programme, read a book, play a game, do some gardening, listen to music, cook a new recipe, or have a soak in the bath. Switching off and having time to yourself will relieve stress and help you to be more productive at work.
Set daily limits
If you are constantly worrying and feeling overwhelmed, set “worry time” to go through your concerns each day. Allow yourself to watch the news once a day to keep informed – that is enough. Tune out of social media and any negative conversations as this won’t serve you.
Connection is vital to support your mental wellbeing. Ensure you connect daily with your family, friends, teams and colleagues via video calls (e.g. WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype), phone or email. Schedule chats into your day to make sure they happen.
Regular physical activity is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety, plus it will make you feel good. Take a daily walk/run/bike ride during daylight. If staying indoors, there are plenty of online workouts. Keep moving around during the day and take regular breaks from sitting down at your desk/laptop.
Be mindful of your thoughts and observe if they are negative. You are the controller of your mind and master of your thoughts. Focus on what you can control and let go of what you can't. Look for all the good and positive things around you. At the end of each day write down 3 things you are grateful for to cultivate a positive mindset.
Use lockdown as an opportunity to learn a new skill. Re-discover an old interest. Do an online course. Read a book. Listen to a podcast. Be curious and seek out new opportunities to stimulate the brain. Learning something new also boosts confidence and self-esteem.
Say thanks, be kind, look out for your neighbours and anyone who is vulnerable in your community. Acts of kindness increases life satisfaction and happiness.
A huge thank you to Maria for all the tips above.
If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It may be as simple as sitting down with your manager and asking for support, making time in your day to call a colleague, friend or family member and catching up or seeking out professional help. You must remember you are not alone and there is support out there for you if you need it.
As recruiters our job isn’t simply to help people secure new roles and to remind you to submit a timesheet, it is to also support our legal locums through the whole process and be there when needed if things start getting tough. We are an extension of your professional network and we love to talk! So please don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, we are here to help.
Maria ManderMaria Mander is a Health & Wellbeing Specialist at The Growth Company. She is a renowned expert in employee wellbeing and provides specialist advice on the Skills For Growth Programme supporting SME’s across Greater Manchester to develop a healthy, thriving and productive workforce for business success.
For the last 3 years, Maria operated her own company providing Wellbeing Consultancy providing strategic direction to SME’s and corporate companies (both private and public sectors) across the UK and globally. She was an award winner on the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator Programme.
Maria brings a fresh holistic approach to wellbeing in the workplace applying techniques gained from being a Life Coach, an accredited Mindfulness & Meditation Tutor and Reiki Master Practitioner. She is passionate about inspiring others to make positive changes in their lives, both personally and professionally.