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So you’re working from home: Team VWT shares their top tips

Illustration Brad Cuzen 

If we had to sum up the current situation in a word, ‘surreal’ seems pretty apt with ‘unprecedented’ coming in at a close second. As the community hunkers down to halt the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), we are all being tested, perhaps in ways we haven’t been before.

At the Victorian Women’s Trust, we want to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff and community, which is why we are adopting a working from home policy for the time being.

We recognise that working from home is not an option for everyone. As a gender equality advocate, we know that women are already disproportionately affected by economic instability and with COVID-19 in the mix, many women will now have a whole new layer of issues to contend with.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and join with others in calling on the government to do far more to support those most at risk.

For those who are able to work from home, Team VWT shares their top tips for getting the most out of your day:

  • Start a morning routine in lieu of your commute

Not having to commute is definitely not the worst thing about working from home but it can often help you get “psychologically” ready for work. This is key when your work is moved from a half hour train journey to a number of metres.

Casimira Melican (VWT Research & Advocacy Officer) says:
“I’ve been doing a bit of a morning routine that helps me get ready for work. It goes a bit like this. Get up, meditate for 10 mins, wash my face, prepare brekky and a pot of tea while listening to my usual morning podcast, get dressed, make my bed, set up my work station (more on that later) and sit down a few minutes before my “work day” starts to log on etc.”

Perfect for your morning routine:
→ Listen to feminist podcasts like Birds Eye View; Money Power Freedom, Mothers of Invention
→ Try a guided meditation or guided yoga session from Rosie.org.au

  • Have a dedicated work space

Working in your bed or on your couch might seem like a good idea (menstrual leave days excepted!) but it isn’t ideal psychologically or physically to make that your permanent work space.

Sophie Bliss (VWT Project Officer, Club Respect & Rosie Editor) says:
“Make your workspace a place you want to be! Pop a pot plant on your desk or cut some flowers from the garden; try to sit somewhere that you can see outside or at a picture on the wall; have plenty of water or tea within reach & have some chilled tunes playing (if that’s your vibe). Try ocean or rain sounds if you’re prone to getting distracted by a sing-along!”

→ Pro tip: try not to hunch over your laptop. If possible, connect your laptop to a monitor and a mouse.

  • Have breaks!

Sometimes we feel guilty about taking breaks when working from home, but if you think about your regular work life, there are a lot of little breaks: chatting to colleagues in the morning, the coffee run, walking to the printer, walking to grab a glass of water, walking meetings with colleagues etc. So don’t feel bad about getting up from your workstation and doing that.

Easy ways to schedule in a regular stretch break:
→  Try to make your coffee around the same time as your usual coffee run
→  Make sure to regularly stretch and stand up.
→ Talk to your elderly neighbour. Checking on neighbours in the next few weeks and months will be really important. You can even write notes and pop them in their letterboxes to keep connected and let them know that you’re here.
→  Go and check on the post box or take a walk in your garden/nearby park. Nature can be physically and mentally refreshing!
→  Take out the bins/recycling for a break.
→ Make sure to have some fruit or veg snack to stave off the 3PM energy slump.

 

  • Stay connected

Working from home doesn’t have to be isolating. Message services like Slack or video chat platforms like Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts are a great way to stay connected with your team.

Ally Oliver-Perham (VWT Communications Manager) says:
“If I’m totally honest, when you’re working from home it can feel a little lonely at times! I overcome this by making a point of touching base with a few team members each day. For some, email or a messenger service will tick all the boxes. I prefer phone calls or video chat, as so much of our interpersonal communication is wrapped up in our tone of voice and body language. Try out a few different mediums to find the best mode of communication for you.”

Esther Davies-Brown (VWT Project Officer) says:
“Anxieties are high at the moment, so make sure you check in with your colleagues, friends and family often by phone or message service to make sure they are feeling ok. Just listening and letting someone talk through their worries can help someone to feel less stressed about the current situation.”

→ Pro tip: call other friends who are also working from home at lunchtime for a cute lunch date!

  • Exercise

Sitting in one place all day and not leaving the house can be really draining. If possible, add some exercise into your routine to look after your physical and mental wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be huge — a few stretches or star jumps can go a long way.

Casimira Melican (VWT Research & Advocacy Officer) says:
“After I pack down my work station I try to get out of the house for a little while to get some sun, take some deep breaths and also psychologically transition between my “work day” and “after work” life.”

Maria Chetcuti (VWT Operations Manager) says:
“This is an unexpected boon for me. Time that I would normally spend commuting I can now dedicate to doing physio stretches, exercises that I know do me good and to more careful meal planning. Added bonus: it supports my immune system to be strong.”

Sophie Bliss (VWT Project Officer, Club Respect & Rosie Editor) says:
“I like to check in on my breathing a couple of times a day. For 5 minutes I focus on sitting up straight with my shoulders back, deeply inhaling and exhaling from my stomach. Always helps me to feel relaxed and centred.”

Simple ways to get active:
→ Bookend your work day with a 10 minute walk before your start the work day and when you finish. It’s technically meant to be nicer weather this month, so keep that in mind and get outdoors.
→ Check out some YouTube workouts to match your mood and skill level. There are plenty that are quick and don’t require any equipment, such as dance classes for beginners.
→ Have a little boogie to some of your fave tunes after work. It’ll be sure to boost your mood!

  • Get into some hobbies/projects/things you’ve been meaning to do

Spending more time at home can get a little monotonous, especially when there is no differentiation between ‘work’ and ‘home’. To help separate the two, you can engage in a winding down routine or find new hobbies and leisurely tasks. It can also be a great way to reward yourself after a work day.

Casimira Melican (VWT Research & Advocacy Officer) says:
“While there are many in the office much more creative than I am, I’ve been really getting into the ritual of cooking at home in the evenings and doing things like making hummus, making my own garlic/chilli oil, making preserved lemons. I find these give the day a bit of “purpose” which can feel a bit lacking if you’ve been at home all day or all week.”

Need activity ideas? Check out @copingwithcorona, a cute instagram page full of upbeat content.

 

  • Stay informed but not alarmed

With social media and constant access to news, everything can feel so overwhelming. But it is important to make sure you have access to the best information. Official websites are the best sources of information such as the Victorian Government Health website and the Federal Government Health website.

Sophie Bliss (Project Officer, Club Respect & Rosie Editor) says:
“I find that allocating time to check the latest news is the best way to avoid it taking over my day. I set aside 10-30 minutes in the morning before stretching or exercise, and 10-30 minutes in the arvo before I ‘log off’ for dinner and to unwind.”

Tarik Bayrakli (Manager Club Respect) says:
“It’s way too easy to get sucked in to the latest news at the best of times. In these extraordinary times it can almost feel like a prudent thing to do. Be aware of how much time you’re spending getting the news and manage it over the next few days and weeks. Definitely be informed but keep your mental health in check. We’ll get through this.”

Check on your family and friends especially those who might be vulnerable. If you are feeling worried, chat it out with someone — at the end of the day, we’re all in this together. Debriefing is really important at the moment and helps everyone out.

If you need help, reach out:
Support services

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