Wellbeing in the workplace

I think that this matters and I think I think that this is important.

If you had a conversation with a lot of companies, particularly since this covid pandemic, they would have something to say about the importance of wellbeing.

We’re all aware that peoples mental health and general wellbeing has been impacted by the pandemic for various reasons. It could be a lack of social interaction, feeling lonely, the change in routine, fear of getting sick, job security, financial issues and more.

But it might not be the pandemic that is the issue. What about if you go to work and you’re treated poorly, ignored, lied to, there’s a lack of trust, you feel stifled, you’re constantly overlooked, people don’t listen to you and you don’t feel respected, you might not even be aware of the impact it can have or is having on you.

Those things can have a significant impact on a persons wellbeing, particularly when they’re happening regularly.

And sometimes in the workplace these things are very covert. When you speak up you get generic responses that lack sincerity but are somehow just enough. Just enough for you to feel like you were overreacting, that maybe you’re not trying hard enough and that things will be better in the future.

However, if you’ve given things a chance to get better and things haven’t improved then you need to decide if the job is actually worth it.

Are you willing to sacrifice your wellbeing for the sake of a job?

Something old, something new

I think one of the biggest reasons people have for going back to the office is face to face communication.

There is this idea that instead of continuing to embrace and further develop what was created from having to work from home, we should regress back to the way things were.

But I think there’s something to be said about those that choose to embrace change and move forward.

Pre-pandemic wasn’t necessarily better it was just what we were used to. And right now as we move forward, we have the opportunity to consider what works well and embrace something new.

Separating work from home

If you’ve found yourself working from home over the past 16 months, chances are that at some point the lines have blurred.

This happens when you don’t create clear boundaries. As much as working from home gives you more freedom and flexibility, you’re still working.

And so being curled up on the sofa with a blanket and ginger tea might seem like a good idea but in reality it’s not really the suitable space for writing up a report.

The rise and fall of Clubhouse

Over the past few months I’ve written various posts about Clubhouse. I wrote about how it had had grown but also my thoughts on the future. Over the past month or so it seems that Clubhouse has fallen. I believe it to be because the app came out whilst many of us were in lockdown. We weren’t able to do the things we would usually do and so Clubhouse became one of the things we used to take up our time.

Whilst the creators were watching their invention grow and thrive, the users although using and possibly even enjoying the app, were also longing for ‘real life’ to return.

And so once restrictions began to ease, use of the app reduced. People no longer needed something to fill their time as they could get back to going to the movies, going for dinner, going for drinks, going to museums, seeing friends and whatever else they did pre-pandemic.

Plus, unlike other things that came about during lockdown, Clubhouse was not able to replace Instagram or Twitter and it’s certainly not enough to replace social interaction.

Back to the way things were

Around 18 months ago, the idea of working from home full-time was not an option for many people. However, last year it became our reality. Suddenly we had to adjust to new ways of working. We had to make space at home to work in the same way or as close to how we would in the office.

The world didn’t stop, we showed that it could in fact be done. But it happened because we were forced to rather than companies allowing it or wanting it to happen.

And now, as we get closer to getting ‘back to normal’, a lot of companies want the traditional ways of the 9-5 to return. However, many employees have adjusted to the new way of life and don’t want to go back.

They now save time and money spent on their journeys into work, are less likely to buy lunch, have more flexibility over how they spend their day and more.

For others, working from home may have brought less routine, more distractions, less productivity and a loss of culture/community.

I don’t think it’s a case of picking working from home or from the office but instead acknowledging that both options can work well and then finding a new way.

We don’t need to just go back to the way things were but we don’t need to totally abandon the office.

The old normal

Lockdown allowed us to fantasise about the possibilities of life.

The way that things were was no longer seen as the way that things had to be.

The longer we were inside the more we began to speak of the new normal. We were able to imagine changes on scales small and large. I think this gave a lot of people hope, that this pandemic would not be for nothing if once it was over there would be change for the better.

But, somewhere along the way, there was a shift. Instead of speaking of the new way of life we had once hoped for, we began to long over the old ways.

Suddenly, it was the old normal that we were dreaming of, not something new.

Back to normal

I think the idea of going back to normal will cause a divide.

On one hand you have the ones that are craving the way things were. They spend their days longing for what used to be.

On the other hand you have the ones that have adjusted and adapted to this new way of life. Perhaps they found it challenging in the beginning but overtime they’ve found a way to make things work for them.

Then lastly, there are those that lie somewhere in between. Those that are able to see the pros and cons of both sides. Those that are interested in flexibility because they now that it’s not a case of things going back to normal but instead carving out a new world based on all that the past year has taught us.

Hard to imagine

There are many things in life that are hard to imagine however, it’s worth remembering that this has no impact on the possibility of these things becoming a reality.

This time two years ago you had no idea of what 2020 would bring and almost a year since the first lockdown we’re still in the midst of it.

Of course the pandemic isn’t a particularly pleasant or positive thing that we want to think about when it comes to the things we imagine coming to life but you can apply the concept to other things.

Right now it might feel like a goal, dream or plan that you have is totally impossible. However, if you decide to be brave and choose to pursue it, six months, a year or maybe even two years from now you could completely bring that to life. All of a sudden months have gone by and you’ll find yourself living a life doing something you love but were once afraid to pursue incase it didn’t work out.

As much as it’s a cliche, you really never know unless you actually try because as much as something might seem impossible it doesn’t really determine it’s possibility.

Most things that we want to do in life are often things that have already been done (even if it was in a slightly different way) and that should be enough proof or evidence that you need.

If it’s been done, it can be done again and what’s to say that it can’t be you that does it .

Why learning something new is a great idea

Last year there were lots of discussions, tweets and conversations about how we’re in a pandemic, you don’t need to do xyz it’s totally okay if all you did was survive.

The thing is, of course you don’t need to do anything new or different with your time. That statement has always been true. But if you want to and if you feel like you can, why not choose to do something new?

And even if you don’t feel like it, even if you’re anxious and overwhelmed maybe trying 10 minutes of aerobics or a breath work exercise might actually help.

I think learning or doing something new during a period where you have more free time than usual is a great idea.

The reason for this is whether you sit around passively watching YouTube all day or try out a couple of new recipes every week, the same amount of time has still gone by.

You don’t need to force yourself to do things you don’t want to do, pick something that you will enjoy.

And you don’t need to use up all your free time, it could be 20 minutes of meditation each day or a few hours a week doing an online course.

You don’t need to post about it online and it doesn’t make you better than others because you’ve now started a successful business or have perfected the crème brûlée.

The focus should be on how you feel about the way that you’re choosing to live and the way that you’re spending your time.

Pandemic residue

What will be left when it’s all over.

A few months ago I ventured out of my house and out of my local area. Everything felt normal until I found myself veering to the edge of the pavement as I saw 2 old ladies sat on a bench in front of me. On another occasion, as I waited for the bus I put on my mask in preparation.

Right now the pandemic isn’t over but ‘normal life’ has started up again (even if there are still 101 restrictions in place). Most of us are leaving our houses much more than we were 7 months ago.

But once the pandemic is declared over, social distancing and wearing masks will stay with us even without the rules in place, even if just for a little while.