HR advice to support your wellbeing

More than anything this is a time to be kind to ourselves and others.

We are experiencing extraordinary times, and many of us will have been thrown from our usual routine and adjusting to working from home. We may be juggling home-life commitments, and caring responsibilities for children and/or older relatives, with our work commitments, or living alone and feeling isolated. In addition, many of us, if not all of us, will have concerns for the well-being of our loved ones and ourselves.

We have put this Brookes community wellbeing page together to help support you and to guide you to other useful resources. You can find general guidance on Covid-19 on the Public Health England website and also see resources for wellbeing under staff information.

Top tips for working at home

  • Working at home provides some greater flexibility around our working hours and you may prefer to start earlier or finish later, but you should include core hours as much as possible to enable us to stay connected and to attend virtual meetings if required.
  • It is appreciated that some of us will need to juggle our work with caring responsibilities and will need to work more flexibly. Your manager will be able to support you with this and to identify key tasks and priorities to focus on.
  • Remember to update your calendar to let your colleagues know when you are working and when you will be off-line.
  • For many of us, it helps to develop a routine that works for our particular home circumstances to provide some sort of structure and ‘normality’ during these uncertain times, even if you may not always be able to stick to it.
  • This period of enforced working from home may provide an opportunity to set up a new routine that supports our health and wellbeing. For example, using our normal commute time to do some exercise or to meditate (see below for ideas and further information).
  • Take coffee and lunch breaks as you normally would; contact colleagues and arrange a virtual chat over coffee/lunch.Try to avoid screen-time in your break to rest your eyes. Do some exercise or stretching instead (see below), or get some fresh air and sunlight if you can - even if it's standing on the doorstep or opening the window.
  • Try to set up a separate space in which to work if possible. You may have the luxury of an office or spare room which is ideal, but even if you don’t, just allocate a space you can leave at the end of the day. Mentally, it may help to disconnect from work and reconnect to personal life.
  • Wherever you are working, try to ensure you are set up as well as you can in the circumstances - see Moodle for various video tips and ideas. Please speak to your manager if you have any concerns or need any additional support in this area.
  • Use a counter top or ironing board (if safe to do so) as a standing desk if appropriate to avoid sitting for long periods of time.
  • Some of us may already have workplace adjustments agreed based on an impairment or health condition. Your line manager will support you to access specialist software or equipment to enable you to continue to work effectively from home.
  • The home working environment may also present new challenges for some of us, which may lead to a worsening of symptoms or re-trigger an onset of health conditions. Let your line manager know about your changing needs to discuss adjustments and solutions.
  • Stress and anxiety are affecting all of us at this difficult time, however, it is important to recognise the different impacts on those with generally good mental health and those with pre-existing conditions. See the resources collected by University of Oxford.
  • The Oxford Brookes Staff Disability Network is keeping in touch with members to support wellbeing, identify concerns and good practice in working from home. The network is open to all staff, not only those with a disability, but also those who are carers for disabled people or who have an interest, professional or otherwise, in disability issues.
  • For some of us, the changes in our living arrangements may also put a strain on relationships or place us in a situation where we are not safe to be fully ourselves or open about our identity. Stonewall has links for safety and support for LGBTQ+ communities and you can find government advice for those who are experiencing or feel at risk of domestic abuse.
  • Social media and other online spaces can sometimes provide a platform for negative attitudes, prejudice and hate. There is potential for the crisis to feed racism and xenophobia and increase harassment and hate incidents both on and offline. Be mindful of safety for yourselves and others in your engagement and interactions.
  • Take care of yourselves and those around you.

Resources for promoting wellbeing

Mental health

The current situation is tough for everybody and it is important that we all do what we can to promote good mental health. We have selected a few resources for further help and support. If you feel unable to cope please contact Occupational Health, your GP or other health professional as appropriate.

Movement / exercise

We all know exercise is good for us and even if you are not a regular exerciser, know that even small amounts can make a difference and importantly help us to de-stress. Everyone has different abilities, but we can all do something.

Use a regular habit to trigger some exercise, eg do 10 sit ups when you switch the kettle or dance to your favourite track.

To inspire the ‘non-exercisers’, here are some YouTube searches for different types of exercise you can do at home. (Please consult your GP if you have any concerns regarding your fitness to exercise).

Also see:

Nutrition

It is important to maintain a healthy diet at this time to promote good health and support your immune system. See the key immune-supporting nutrients.

It can be too easy to snack on ‘junk food’ when you are at home and especially if we are feeling stressed and anxious. Find some healthy snack ideas but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t resist temptation.

Also see:

Other resources

Support from Human Resources

Our HR team is here to support you on a confidential case-by-case basis and can provide specific advice and guidance. Please contact your relevant link HR team via email and they will get back to you asap.

Support is also available from:

Join OCSLD in one of their Online Cafe meetings and visit the OCSLD website for the latest learning and development opportunities and support resources. 

The Staff Diversity Networks - BAME Staff Network, LGBTQ+ Staff Forum and Staff Disability Network - are keeping in touch with members and running some online activities. Contact jane.butcher@brookes.ac.uk for more information.