By now, many of us have well and truly been operating in a work-from-home mode for the longest period of our careers.
It’s been a big learning curve, but I have observed many individuals and organisations who have handled the changes successfully.
Whilst I have been able to work from the office much of the time, for me the two most important learnings about working from home have been operating to a daily routine and looking after my wellbeing.
Here’s how I have been managing both.
- I have set up an organised and tidy permanent work space – with privacy, light, a good chair and desk and some indoor plants. I am able to raise my laptop/iPhone to head height for Zoom/Skype calls – in other words, the space is as professional and comfortable as I can reasonably make it.
- I work to a daily routine – get dressed in work clothes, plan the day’s log-in and log-off times in advance, schedule daily substantial exercise (before breakfast is best for me), take small breaks (walk around the block, pop out and buy a takeaway coffee, chat to the neighbours, collect mail, etc.), plan meals and meal times in advance and eat healthily. Schedule a lunch break and plan an evening activity at the end of the work day – outside is my preference – a short walk, some gardening, wash the car.
- Things I avoid when working from home include watching television, recreational reading, taking the laptop to the lounge or surfing online. I preserve all these activities for outside of work hours, which helps me distinguish work and home life.
Everyone will have a different approach and different domestic responsibilities and obligations to coordinate with work. We also have different needs and preferences for interacting, socialising, creating and physical movement. The key to working well from home is to find the routine that works for you, build a wellbeing plan into that routine and stick to it.
I’d like to stress the wellbeing plan because, at QLS, we believe that a solicitor’s health and wellbeing is fundamental to the sustainability of their practice, and a core element of their professional competence.
Following on from this, actively protecting and improving your health and wellbeing is not optional or a ‘nice to have’ (or maybe something to do when you eventually find the time). It is crucial to ensure that you remain mentally, emotionally and physically able to serve your clients to the best of your abilities.
Unfortunately, looking after our most valuable resource – our physical and psychological health and wellbeing – tends to be the first thing to fall by the wayside when things get stressful, challenging or difficult, as they currently are. This can negatively impact on our resilience, making us less able to deal with problems in a constructive and proactive way, less productive and less able to be there for others who need us at home or at work.
QLS regularly publishes short wellbeing articles to provide you with new ideas, practical suggestions and useful strategies to boost your wellbeing, grow your resilience and enjoy life.
You can find them in your weekly QLS Update email newsletter, on the front page of the QLS website, and promoted via our social media channels. Make sure you follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram to get all updates and other resources, including bi-weekly short recorded wellbeing talks to help you deal with current challenges.
This month in Proctor, our extensive COVID-19 feature section explains the actual protocols that should be in place for any staff or firms operating under work-from-home arrangements. We also look at some of the ramifications for both employers and employees as restrictions ease and many return to the workplace.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind all members of the fully confidential services that LawCare provides for them, their staff and immediate families. These services are provided by the independent organisation, Converge International, through qualified and highly experienced counsellors.
They include Money Assist, which offers access to financial experts who provide money management coaching to help with financial concerns; Career Assist, to help with career development planning, resume and job-seeking assistance, interview skills and vocational counselling; Employee Assist, for coaching, mentoring and counselling to achieve success; and Family Assist, to help proactively deal with a range of personal and work-related issues.
Other services cover coaching and advice to assist managers and supervisors dealing with a variety of difficult or complex people issues; strategies, tools and coaching for those dealing with difficult workplace and personal situations; and nutrition and lifestyle advice.
LawCare services are available by calling 1800 177 743, or see the LawCare page at qls.com.au (log-in required).
Finally, a reminder that more assistance is available through three new QLS services aimed specifically at issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. I spoke in detail about these last month – the Employment Law Advice Service (ELAS), the General Manager Support Service (GMSS) and the Government Funding Assistance Service (GFAS), which offers guidance and support for those navigating their way through COVID-19.
For more information or to ascertain your eligibility for these three services, please see the QLS Ethics and Practice Centre page (or call 07 3842 5843).
This story was originally published in Proctor June 2020.