Supporting our essential services from home

The government’s confirmation of a continued lockdown policy, means that many of our staff will continue to work from home.

CUH staff should only travel to work to carry out tasks which are both essential and absolutely cannot be undertaken from home. This is vital to minimise footfall across the hospital sites and so prevent transmission of the virus to the wider workforce and our patients. Our two key goals as we manage this outbreak are to keep our staff safe and work together to save lives.

We would like to extend our gratitude to all those staff members who are working from home – and in many cases who are undertaking a variety of unfamiliar tasks to support the work of the hospital at this time. As with those working within the hospital, we know you are going the extra mile to ensure we continue to offer the best possible care to our patients. And many thanks to the IT team who have undertaken a phenomenal task to increase BOYD access by five times the usual capacity to enable increased home working.

Staff members who are working from home are playing a vital part in supporting the work of our hospitals. Please don’t think that because you are out of sight you are out of our minds.

7 simple tips to tackle working from home

It’s fair to say that life has become more difficult for everyone. Coronavirus (Covid-19) has changed everything, and we have all had to adjust to new ways of living and working.

There are some perks to working from home that some of us can enjoy (bye-bye commute!), but feeling stress, boredom, anxiety and uncertainty is also completely normal. Alongside this, many of us are worried about future job prospects and trying to look after kids as well.

These simple tips can help you while working at home, to feel more productive and take care of your mental health in these difficult times.

Please also refer to the Trust’s Homeworking Policy.

  1. Set and stick to a routine

Without steady schedules, the lines between work and personal time can get blurred and be stressful to get right. Follow your normal sleep and work patterns if you can, and stay consistent.

Get up at the same time, eat breakfast, and get out of your pyjamas!

Try scheduling in your “commute time” and spend it exercising, reading or listening to music before logging in.

Most importantly, when your workday stops, stop working. Shut down, stop checking emails and focus on your home life. And at the end of the day, try to get to bed at your usual time.

  1. Make a dedicated workspace

If you can, find a quiet space away from people and distractions like the TV (or the kitchen, when you feel snacky).

Get everything you need in one place, before you start work – chargers, pens, paper and anything else – and shut the door if you can. Even in a small or shared space, try to designate an area as your work space.

Lastly, get comfortable. While it might be tempting to sit on the sofa, it’s much better to sit at a desk or table. Use the Trust’s DSE Policy to help you set up your workplace correctly.

Further guidance at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/how-to-sit-correctly/

  1. Give yourself a break

Working at home can make us feel like we have to be available all the time. But just being “present” is no use to anyone if your mental health is suffering.

Making time for breaks is important to help manage feelings of stress – try to take lunch and regular screen breaks. Give yourself time to concentrate on something else so you feel more focused when you return. Even just 5 to 10 minutes of short breaks each hour can really help your productivity too.

If possible, set a time to go for a walk, run or bike ride for some fresh air, or a coffee – just make sure you follow social distancing guidance when outside your home.

Working from home means you might be spending a lot more time without moving your body. If you’re feeling stiff or tense, try doing some light stretching or exercise with our 10-minute home workouts.

Try some 10-minute workouts.

  1. Stay connected

While working from home has its benefits, you may also feel more isolated. But there are lots of ways to stay in touch with those who matter – boosting their mental wellbeing as well as our own.

In and out of work, human interaction matters so schedule video calls and pick up the phone instead of emailing. If you’re struggling with working at home, speak to your colleagues or manager about your concerns.

And remember, your colleagues probably feel the same as you! Ask how they’re doing and whether there are ways you can support each other.

Make time to socialise virtually – schedule in a digital coffee break or Friday online get-together. Or meet in person for a coffee or lunch if you can do so, following the latest social distancing guidelines.

  1. Set boundaries

Setting boundaries with other members of your household is key to mental wellbeing while working at home.

You can be more flexible when working from home, so enjoy it. But it can also be difficult if there are other distractions to deal with, like children at home, who may think you are on holiday and want to spend time with you.

Have a discussion about your needs, especially with family. Remind them that you still have work to do and need quiet time to do it, and share your schedule.

Similarly, set boundaries with work. It’s easier to stay logged on when your home is your office, but try to switch off when the work day is over, and enjoy time with family at home.

  1. Think longer term

You may be continuing to work from home for a while, so think about ways you could improve how you work while at home. If you have a garden, could you work there if the weather’s warm?

  1. Be kind to yourself

Remember, this is an unusual situation and things will not feel normal!

Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you might not be as productive as you usually would be. Be realistic about what you can achieve given the circumstances, and relax when your work is done.

Further support and advice

If you feel low or are struggling with feelings of isolation, there is support and advice available. Find out more in 10 tips if you are worried about coronavirus.

For more advice on how to look after your own mental health and supporting colleagues while working from home, visit Mental Health at Work.

You can also read some inspiring stories of how clinical and non clinical staff are successfully adapting how they work off-site and remotely with colleagues in order to deliver services – and in many instances, finding ways of enhancing the quality of that service provision

Guidance for managing teams remotely

Managing teams remotely will be a significant change and a learning curve for many of us – it may well be taking us out of our comfort zones as leaders. You might be missing the assurance of a face to face conversation and experiencing changes to working patterns and ways of communicating. In these circumstances it can feel hard to provide leadership, direction and to gain the assurances you might be looking for.

Here are some tips to help:

  • Ensure that you’ve established clarity with your staff about expected tasks and flexibility of working hours, to accommodate new ways of working and perhaps caring responsibilities.
  • Appreciate how this new way of working will be experienced differently by individual staff members, and ensure that all your staff are aware of the staff support provided by the Trust at this time.
  • Establish ways of communicating regularly through phone calls and virtual meetings, and remember to give regular Trust updates.
  • Trust the output! – avoid micromanaging, which can lead to staff overworking in order to prove themselves, and remember to give feedback and encouragement.
  • Look after yourself as much as you will be looking out for your staff at this time, and expect all the above from your own manager!

For further information and guidance, see the Employee Support and Assistance pages.

For further external resources that can support personal wellbeing when working at home, see: