Keeping your mind and body healthy during the new lockdown

Eva Jakobsen is a working life consultant at IDA and helps companies ensure the wellbeing of their employees in these challenging times.

Arrange a weekly meeting with your colleagues to discuss other things than work. Or try the 20:8:2 method. These are our tips for getting through a long corona winter.

Unfortunately, 2021 did not turn out to be the return to a normal daily routine we hoped for. At least not yet.

Instead, we have to adapt to a new reality in which we will likely be working from home the rest of the winter.

At IDA we hear from more and more members who do not thrive at their home office where they are far away from their colleagues and perhaps a tad too close to their families.

That is why our working life consultant Eva Jacobsen has prepared some pieces of advice for how to organise your home workplace with all that is needed. For, as she says:

“There are rules for the physical set-up – but that is only a small part of what constitutes a workplace. Even though you have the best table, the best chair, and the right keyboard – it is, at the end of the day, the surrounding aspects that contribute to your wellbeing while you work. “

Talk to a career counsellor

Are you stressed or pressured from working from home and do you need to talk to someone about the difficulties of your working life?

Book a talk with one of IDA’s career counsellors who are experienced in helping IDA’s members resolve issues in their professional life.

Contact IDA

Look out for your mental health

The big monster here is loneliness. You can both be lonely when surrounded by a noisy family or when you are all alone – and anywhere in between.

The lockdown and the isolation from our colleagues and managers unfortunately provide a breeding ground for fantasies and worst-case scenarios to take shape in our minds.

We struggle to build and maintain trust in each other when we are distanced from one another. We go from teamwork to individualisation. And our sense of justice is constantly fed with questions like “Why can my co-worker go to work when I can’t?” and “Why did I not get to work on this exciting project?”

We need to turn those three things upside down the best we can. They are each key components in our wellbeing at work. That is why we should:

  • Separate work and spare time: It all tends to merge together when we work in the same place as we sleep. That is why it is a good idea to create small zones for each aspect of your life in your home, even if you live in a small space.
  • Explicit feedback culture: Practice an explicit feedback culture with your co-workers. While working physically apart, we no longer have nonverbal and informal communication such as little smiles and conversations at the office desk. Don’t forget to give praise by email or Teams.
  • Matching of expectations: Talk to your colleagues and team managers about what they can expect from you, especially if you have two children at home or an ill mother to take care of.
  • Talk about “soft” things: Make room for you and your colleagues to discuss other things than work. Try reaching people by phone rather than email every now and then. Or set up a meeting once every week to discuss the latest TV series you have watched.

Keep your body strong

If your body is not well, your work effort, mood and overall wellbeing are likely to be affected as well. Still, this is where many relax on looking after themselves. Here are some simple steps that really pay off:

  • Mental and active breaks: It is precisely when you seem to have the least time for it that you need a break or walk around the block the most. But force yourself to take mental physically active breaks. In the bigger picture you will likely get more done.
  • The 20:8:2 Method: This method is very simple: 20 minutes screen time (sitting), 8 minutes (standing) and 2 minutes actively away from the screen. And repeat. That reduces the risk of physical problems and injuries caused by too sedentary work.
  • Training exercises: Your body is not made for sitting down all day. 

Ergonomics and furnishing

The rules are crystal clear. If you work from home for more than one day on average, your employer must make sure that you have the right equipment, according to The Working Environment Act (arbejdsmiljøloven).

The difficult part is to put the rules into practice and furnish your home working place properly. You play the leading part in making that happen.

  • Begin with the chair. Consider buying a wedge-shaped bolster. If that is not enough, stack several pillows on your seat and find something for your feet. The most important thing is to create the right positioning in relation to your table, unless you are working at a height-adjustable desk.
  • Now to the desk. Make sure it is not placed in direct sunlight to protect your eyes. In addition to the natural light, it is a good idea to get a work lamp.
  • Separate keyboard, screen and mouse. If you are at a laptop, you tend to fold your body together and tighten up. Place your computer on a book and invest in, at the very least, a mouse and an separate keyboard, if you haven’t already.
  • Place a chair on your table and place your computer on it or put it in your bookcase so you can stand upright during meetings.
  • And remember: The right position is the next position (i.e. change your position regularly).