Mental Wellbeing in a Time of Corona
What’s going on?
I still can’t quite believe what’s going on in the world around us right now.
The news and social media are full of shocking stories, although they do need to be talked about to emphasise how seriously Coronavirus needs to be taken, it certainly isn't helping anyone’s anxiety.
How do we look after our mental health during such a distressing time?
Although plenty of people have already written about this topic, I’m still jumping on the bandwagon to offer some ideas on how you can look after your own wellbeing whilst being cooped up at home, potentially with family members, now appreciating those 8 hours a day you spent away at work.
Our findings so far
It’s not all doom and gloom, a huge amount of good has come from us all remote working at Codeweavers. We’ve had to refine processes further and improve the consistency in our communication as it’s far easier to misunderstand details when you’re not there in person. For similar reasons we’ve streamlined our documentation to better explain our processes, especially helping those newer to the company. We’ve all had to really come together at a particularly trying time to make this work for everyone, which has made the transition to remote working so much easier.
There’s also some things which we’ve realised we’d taken for granted while working in the office. Remote communication always seems to come with an objective, for example, needing an answer to a particular question or asking for help with a project. The ‘watercooler conversations’ have been lost. You don’t bump into someone you rarely speak to in the kitchen anymore, unless you’re incredibly antisocial, breaking quarantine or getting burgled. We’ve felt the loss of these chats, and realised how beneficial they were to our mental health. Many have found it easier to be productive while at home without frequent distractions from others, however over time we may realise there were also some hidden benefits of these conversations. Were they all casual chats or have we missed some innovative ideas which would’ve come from them?
How we’re managing
Looking after everyone's wellbeing has always been of great importance to us at Codeweavers, remote working hasn't changed that. To help us along we’ve tried implementing a few things to keep as much of the social atmosphere of the office going as possible.
We have coffee mornings over Slack a couple of times a week to discuss how everyone is getting on and sharing in some of the techniques that are helping us stay sane. Sometimes we just talk about Indy’s toilet roll situation. We’ve also started using Slack more for social events, giving people with shared interests a place to talk about them and arrange games over lunch or after work.
We’re also keeping a constant feedback cycle going, we’re all learning as we go, and working away from an office is still very new to all of us, thankfully so far it’s going pretty well! Therefore, now more than ever, we have to listen to each other to understand each other's difficulties. It's far easier to hide or bury your problems when you’re not around other people. We’re encouraging constant feedback both ways to implement changes which make working from home easy and comfortable for everyone.
Respecting everyone’s other commitments is still vitally important too, whether it’s for childcare or looking after another loved one. Having to juggle work, childcare and being a teacher is impossible without some flexibility. We’ve tried to provide this by relaxing hours where needs be to allow other commitments to take priority and work to fit in around it.
Work life balance
The dangers of allowing work and home life to overlap is something which has been talked about in plenty of different blog posts already, from the discussions in our coffee mornings we’ve found a few things to work well.
Creating a new routine can help make everything seem a little more ‘normal,’ particularly if you’re able to separate your work and home life with an activity. Even before current events, I found I’d take work home with me, which is now even easier to do when work is at home. The commute would often be enough to separate my work life and my home life but sometimes I’d need a bit of extra time to unwind. We’ve found going out for a responsible walk, having a shower or simply listening to some music or a podcast can be good replacements for this wind down time. By doing so, this artificial commute can retain the barrier between work and home life.
Although it is far easier said than done, physically separating your space helps with the boundaries, where possible creating a work area away from where you’d usually go to relax (which unfortunately is pretty much everywhere). Sitting in exactly the same place whether you’re working or not can impact your perceptions of that space and make it harder to relax there anymore.
Set reasonable boundaries and expectations for yourself and others. With most of the communication we now do being on Slack, we’ve taken advantage of the statuses, publicly marking our availability. We need to respect the availability of others by not making requests when they aren’t working or not expecting work to be done during these times, but also not feel a duty to pick things up or continue working for too long.
It’s very easy to forget to take holidays, or you may not want to. However, just as you would while working in the office, you need a break from time to time. Although the list of things to do now is far shorter, there’s never been a better time for some binge watching - I’m just about to start Tiger King.
How are you coping?
As I said earlier, we need feedback so we can try new things. We’ve had to adapt massively over the past month, it’s probably the thing we do best, we’ve never stopped searching for the best ways of working, and going remote hasn’t changed that. So, if you’re reading this, whether you work here or not, and you have an idea which you think would make this unprecedented time just that little bit more bearable, drop over an email to HR@codeweavers.net. I’d love to hear from you. During this time with so much focus on your physical health, don’t forget your mental health needs nurturing too. Thank you, stay safe.