by Jonathan Munnery
As the coronavirus lockdown calls for a temporary pause on physical intermingling with individuals outside of your household – routine contact with family, friends, and colleagues is becoming scarce, heightening the sense of isolation between households, friendship groups and businesses. As workplaces close across the country, it is inevitable to experience overwhelming feelings of isolation.
As remote workers transition from working in fully staffed offices to the confines of their own home, team members are made to physically isolate from one another to mitigate the spread of the virus, increasing the likelihood of an emotional mirror effect. By cutting out daily commutes, socialising over coffee breaks and routine interactions, the shift from office life to working from home is likely to impact your mood and day to day structure.
Interacting with individuals outside of your home can help you feel connected with the outside world and breathe fresh air into your social life. Taking the step to socialise outside of your comfort zone can help develop your communication skills and increase confidence. We take you through some of the ways you can overcome feelings of isolation in the professional world and while working from home:
Integrate a routine – By structuring your working day, you can work towards achieving a set target, establish expectations and carve out time for a dedicated break from working life, as you would when working in an office or a remote working environment. By integrating a routine, you can ensure that you are taking a break from your working spot, home office or desk. It is essential to take in different sceneries during working hours to help you stay focused on the task at hand. By establishing a routine as you would in an office setting, you can take comfort in a sense of familiarity.
Use fast-fire communication platforms – To mimic daily exchanges and allow for the same level of accessibility as in the office, instant messaging software can help break the ice in an otherwise typically corporate environment and allow for more immediacy when conversing.
Putting it into perspective, the coronavirus pandemic led to the number of Slack users to skyrocket as businesses recognised the importance of replicating meaningful conversations at a similar speed as in person. By joining your workplace and communicating through several channels to discuss a variety of projects, you can remain in close contact with your team and ensure that physical distancing doesn’t disrupt your workflow.
The likes of voice, video, chat, and web conferencing software can be used innovatively during the coronavirus pandemic to maintain communications between colleagues, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. By increasing your accessibility, you are likely to feel less isolated and more connected to your workplace and other employees.
Share your experience with colleagues – As working from home is now a running norm across the country, other individuals in your workplace may be in a similar position. By sharing your feelings and relating to others, you can help reduce anxiety and allow for the outpour of emotion. This could lead to picking up on helpful coping mechanisms and sharing tips on how to stay motivated to keep anxiety at bay. By recognising that other individuals may be in the same boat as you, comfort can be drawn from sharing experiences and building a stronger bond than in the traditional workplace.
Arrive at the root of your anxiety – If your anxiety is stemming from your exclusion from certain tasks and events which you would typically partake in outside of Covid-19 restrictions, identify this and arrive at a compromise. Many workplaces are hosting virtual drink meet-ups and founding online social clubs to allow for the continuity of events and to preserve existing relationships already forged between colleagues. By creating a virtual version of the likes of reading clubs and coffee gatherings, you can continue spending time on your hobbies and take comfort in each other’s company.
Interacting with others in your position is instrumental in finding relief from anxiety as compassionate empathy can help you look beyond feelings of isolation. Renowned psychologists, Daniel Goleman and Paul Ekman refer to compassionate empathy as ‘with this kind of empathy we not only understand a person’s predicament and feel with them, but are spontaneously moved to help, if needed.’ By actively helping others overcome feelings of isolation, you may be able to help yourself recover from feeling anxious and beat the blues.
Partaking in social behaviour by offering compassionate empathy can help you relate to others and fulfil your basic psychological needs. By boosting your mood and empowering yourself, you can lower feelings of depression and anxiety. If the root of your work-life anxiety is deriving from personal pressures, explore the source, such as company debt problems, personal finance issues, loneliness, health vulnerabilities, etc. there are national platforms, such as Anxiety UK, which can provide advice and recommendations to help you feel better supported.
About the author
Jonathan Munnery is a partner at UK Liquidators, part of Begbies Traynor Group plc.
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