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How to cope with stress when working from home

With the impact of Covid-19, many of us are now working from home, but this can cause additional stress. Here we provide helpful information on how to cope with workplace stress when working from home and understanding your rights.

29 April 2021

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It’s been over a year since many of us made the shift to working from home on a daily basis due to the pandemic. Many office based work places adapted to cater for the majority of their employees to work from home during the periods of lockdown. Although we have a roadmap out of restrictions and vaccinations are continually on the rise, many companies are adapting to a flexible way of working and allowing employees to work from home more often.

Although this is supported by many employees, it's important for employers to also consider impact of stress of those working from home.

How has working from home affected workers?

The reaction from workers about having to work from home has been mixed, from those who enjoy it and never want to commute again to those who don't like it and want to get back to the office as soon as possible. Others would be quite like the best of both worlds, working part-time in the office and part-time at home when things return to some sort of normality.

However, regardless of whether working from home is preferred, it can still increase stress levels. For many, workloads have increased which has meant an increase in working hours, often outside the standard 9 to 5 working day and sometimes at the weekend. This has led to some people suffering from work-related stress.

According to the HSE, in 2019/2020 there were 828,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety and in the same period there were 17.9 million working days lost due to work-related stress. These statistics account for 51% of all cases of ill health and 55% of all working days lost due to work-related ill health.

What help is available for people suffering from work-related stress?

There are several charities and organisations in the UK which offer help and guidance about dealing with work-related stress, some of which you’ll be able to access directly through your employer.

With prevention being at the heart of what they do, the Mental Health Foundation help people to understand, protect and sustain their mental health. They understand how much the mental health of workers has been impacted by the pandemic and have a helpful guide on how to support mental health at work.

The Mental Health Foundation say “Good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand and there is strong evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive. Addressing wellbeing at work increases productivity by as much as 12%.”

Top 10 tips to relieve stress when working from home

There's a lot of advice online when it comes to looking after your mental health when working from home. Here are our top 10 tips.

1. Make sure you take regular breaks from your screen.

2. Don't check work emails on your phone when logged off from your laptop.

3. Practice mindful breathing.

4. Try to stay organised with your workload by writing a task list every day.

5. Get some fresh air when you take a break and if possible, go for a walk.

6. Try to stick to your working hours.

7. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

8. Keep up communications with your team to stop you feeling isolated and provide you with support.

9. When you log off for the day, either close your office door or put your laptop away.

10. If you feel overwhelmed, talk to your manager, a colleague or your HR representative.

How would working from home result in a stress at work claim?

Working from home can be stressful. It might not just be your working environment that's changed, but also your workload. This may cause friction between productivity and your safety.

Additionally, you may be facing isolation, having to deal with things such as home schooling when children are sent home due to a positive test in class, other family members being on furlough or not having a suitable set up for home working.

As your work life has changed, so might have your reporting lines and supervision may not be as effective as it once was.

Your employer has a legal duty of care to protect you from work-related stress by ensuring they complete a thorough risk assessment and act quickly to rectify any issues which could cause you to suffer from work-related stress.

If you're suffering from stress as a result of work, you should speak to your manager or your HR representative as soon as possible. If they fail in their duty of care to protect you and you become ill as a result, you may be able to make a stress at work claim.

If you’ve suffered a psychological condition as a result of stress of work when working from home, contact one of our work-related stress specialists for advice.

This information was correct at the time it was published.

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