Employee Self-Care Whilst Remote Working

Employee Self-Care Whilst Remote Working

Here's a guide to help remote working staff with self-care during the pandemic so they can stay healthy, happy and focused

By Tina Frost

The Institute of Employment Studies found staff working from home are generally taking less care of themselves during the coronavirus pandemic, with many consuming more alcohol and unhealthy food. During such a difficult time, it’s important for employers to encourage physical and mental resilience amongst their remote working teams. Here's a guide to help remote working staff with self-care during the pandemic so they can stay healthy, happy and performance orientated. 

1. Encourage exercise 

Working from home cuts out all the movement that a physical workplace requires, and staff commutes become non-existent, so it's essential for employees to be disciplined with scheduling their own exercise. 

Remind staff to take regular breaks from the usual sitting position, as this can help to reduce the negative effects of working at a desk. For every hour sitting at a desk, recommend staff to spend five of those minutes moving around, whether that’s stepping out into the garden, pacing around their living rooms or getting up to make a cup of tea. It doesn’t matter as long as they move regularly.

There are also a number of simple yet effective exercises that can also be done at a desk, such as leg extensions, which prevent muscle degeneration in roles that require extended periods of sitting. To do so, employees should maintain a 90-degree upright seated position, lifting the leg and then straightening. At the top of the movement, flex the feet, to ensure all leg muscles are engaged. 

2. Prevention through mindful stretching 

Stretching is the body’s way of relieving tension and can help to refocus concentration. The 'standing forward bend' is a good place for employees to start. From a standing position, bend forward, hinging at the hips and if possible, bring the palms or fingertips to the floor in front of the feet. If this isn't possible, try crossing your forearms and holding your elbows. 

People sitting at screens all day are also particularly prone to repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. An effective preventative exercise to share with the workforce is the palm press: placing the palms together in a prayer position, extend the elbows away from the body. Lower the hands downward and pause when they begin to separate. Hold this position for 30 seconds and rest. This must be repeated at least three times for maximum effect.  

3. Get outside 

When time outside is restricted, it's important to encourage staff to use it whenever possible. Even just a walk for a short amount of time during a lunch break can raise your heart rate and boost the body’s levels of vitamin D.

If this is not accessible to staff with limited outdoor space, jogging on the spot for 5 minutes within the home is another way to encourage better blood circulation. 60-second sets are beneficial, with a minute’s rest in between. 

4. Be nutritionally aware 

With commutes and in-person meetings no longer taking place, many workers will use working from home as an opportunity to increase their efficiency. However, it's vital that staff eat consistent meals, as a lack of food consumption during the day can cause dizziness, low energy levels and poor moods.

Food has been found to link to output in the workplace, so regular, balanced meals are a must and those in need of a snack should turn to a handful of nuts, a hard-boiled egg or berries. These are all superfoods, known to boost memory and productivity. 

Caffeine has been shown to improve mood and brain function. However, drinking too much coffee (over 4 cups a day) can have a negative impact on the body. This is an area to be mindful of. Perhaps, employees could be encouraged to try a decaffeinated redbush tea to ease cravings without diminishing their health and output. This tea contains antioxidants, which are important for a healthy heart and may also keep cholesterol levels sound.

5. Calming stress levels 

When employees are feeling stressed, it's vital they know there is a safe space within the workplace that they can turn to for reassurance. Running webinars with mental health experts may be another convenient method to teach those isolated how to stay calm and respond better to stress and uncertain situations. 

Controlled breath work helps slow down the heart rate and calms the body’s fight or flight response. A simple technique to teach employees who are new to this concept is to tell them to take deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth, with their eyes closed when feeling stressed. Employees should focus on counting up to 4 for each inhale and each exhale.

There are also plenty of apps available that can guide newcomers into a state of relaxation through mindfulness and meditation, which have been proven to reduce stress, improve sleep and increase focus.

About the Author

Tina Frost is a Sales Manager at Express Vending. She has worked at the company for nearly six years and is experienced in providing food and drink offerings to UK workplaces. Established in 1992, Express Vending is a premium vending machine installation organisation with its products and services tailored to meet the demands of organisations of all industries and sizes.