Mental health and working remotely
Working remotely, or working from home, can have lots of benefits. But it can also have a big impact on our mental health. On this page, you'll find tips for looking after your mental health if you're in a hybrid or remote role.
Redefine the work life balance
It's easy to work longer hours and take fewer breaks when working remotely. Why not put a reminder in your diary when you plan to finish working?
You can also make sure you take at least a 30-minute lunch break. If you can, try to get some fresh air and go for a short walk.
You could also:
- Set up a 'work' and 'personal' login for your laptop, so you can differentiate between the two – you could even use different screensavers and backgrounds to make the difference clear
- Eat your lunch in a different room to where you work
- Distinguish between proper meetings and informal chats with the people you work with – you could hold them in different rooms, or have informal chats on the sofa and formal ones at a desk
- Go for a walk as soon as you finish – this can act as a fake 'commute', and make it feel like you're coming home after the working day has finished
Check in with team members regularly
Working from home can be isolating. If you work in a team, make sure you and your team have regular check-ins. Find an online tool that works for your team, like Zoom, Skype, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams.
If you can, try to make sure these regular check-ins are scheduled in advance. You could have some regular scheduled chat time with each of them individually, and daily or weekly time as a team.
Establish your ways of working
When you work remotely, you might have to think harder about how you'll deliver work. What digital tools and platforms will you use? How will you communicate with other people you work with? If you have a team, how will you support each other through challenges?
Some of it might be trial and error, so make sure you take time to reflect on what's working and what isn't. And don't be too harsh on yourself if some things you try don't work.
Create a Wellness Action Plan
Wellness Action Plans are a personalised, practical tool we can all use – whether we have a mental health problem or not – to help us identify what keeps us well at work, what causes us to become unwell, and how to address a mental health problem at work if we have one.
Everyone can complete a Wellness Action Plan. You don't need to have a mental health problem in order to feel the benefits. You could fill one out and keep it for your own use, or share it with people you work with.
If you manage a team, why not encourage them to complete a Welllness Action Plan and ask them to share this with you? The plan can be looked at and kept up to date during 1-2-1s.
Get in the zone
When you're in an office, it might feel easier to get your head down and focus on a piece of work. But when it comes to working remotely, you might have more phone calls, video chats and Slack messages to deal with.
You could temporarily pause notifications, or turn your phone on silent, for the times you want to concentrate. You could set aside part of your day for focus time, and other parts of your day could be for emails, messages and calls.
Starting the day with a bit of exercise can also help focus your mind and give you a sense of routine. You could go for a walk, or do a 20-minute yoga video on YouTube.
Take pride in the small things
If you work remotely, you might have times when you're not interacting with many people. This can make it hard to motivate yourself, or feel like you've not achieved much.
Each day, try to find one small thing you can take pride in, or feel like you've accomplished. You might find it helpful to create a list at the start of each day, and tick off everything you've done at the end.
Useful resources for working remotely
ACAS has information on how to support a team when you're working remotely.
We have a guide on how to be mentally healthy at work, with tips on stress and managing relationships.
We have lots of tips on how to achieve a work life balance which works for you and keeps you mentally well.