Working in a new normal

In support of Mental Health Awareness Week, we've invited Carmen Roberts, Counsellor (FdA MBACP) to share her thoughts and offer advice on 'working in a new normal'.

We can better tolerate change when we believe it to be temporary, but the most challenging aspects of change are the prospect and the onset, as we then learn to adapt.

These unchartered waters mean that changes that would have taken months to ‘sign off’ happened overnight - and we are working alongside the intense emotion of loss; loss of loved ones, of social contact, of plans, of financial security and a general loss of freedom.

Adjusting to all this can feel like chasing a moving target, but the best way to cope with uncertainty is to be present and realise that we might be surprised, upon reflection, at how well we have adjusted, given the reduced urgency of daily life.

We are aware that regular breaks, exercise and a routine are good for us in this transition, but if you struggle with discipline, missing office interaction or working in a family environment, Carmen Roberts offers some tips for maintaining an optimal home office ethic:

1) Create Boundaries

  • Designated working hours around new routines or family; produce a timetable to manage others’ expectations if that helps;
  • Work-space tailored to you, including things you wished you had in the office, like a window view or a desk separate to others.

2) Take Advantage of Home Comforts

  • Work with music on if it helps you to zone out and focus;
  • Take the dog for a walk or go for a run during lunch;
  • No more fast-food on the go and eating at proper times.

3) Focus on Positives

  • No commute time or rush hour stresses;
  • Time away from frustrating colleagues and the ability to plan and prioritise without interruptions or unnecessary demands;
  • Not having to wear a suit or heels or make-up (unless this helps to motivate);
  • Sharing in partner/family meal times or investing in other quality time.

Many find comfort in conforming to office norms, but managing expectations at home plays a large part; an employee learns they do not need to be vastly more productive and an employer learns to trust that staff are working and resist calling at 5.31pm.

The silver lining is that the point at which this situation is no longer a temporary measure, we may have shifted into a new normal; with the realisation that the ‘work-life balance’ is a forced reality - but a welcome one.

Carmen Roberts Counselling offers private 1:1 counselling for individuals and in-house company well-being schemes.