Working at home and self-care in the age of COVID-19
You’ve got your computer, phone, marching orders and safety protocols and you’re off. You’re working from home.
For many ISSofBC staff, working out of home is a new experience, made even more challenging by an external environment full of uncertainty and fast-changing developments. In other words, this is not your usual work-at-home situation where the ability to plan and exercise control over your workday is fully in your hands.
Sure, you can work in your sleepwear if you choose and fix your favourite snack easily anytime you want. But you can’t just walk over to your neighbourhood coffee shop to pick up your favourite java when you feel like it, you can’t just pop into the library to take out a book or scan your favourite magazines, and you can’t just take your hyper-active toddler to the park or drop off your restless tween at a friend’s house. No, because you’re working at home in an abnormal time!
Here’s a to-do list work-at-home experts agree will ease your transition to remote work during this unusual time:
1. Set up a dedicated work space and eliminate all possible distractions.
- This helps you focus.
- It can be a room, a small desk or a table.
2. Schedule your worktime and stick to it.
- If not, work and personal time run the risk of blending together, affecting work productivity.
3. Exercise self-motivation and discipline in accomplishing your workplan.
- Not having your boss and your colleagues or the energy of office chatter and sounds around you, may feel isolating, so you’ll need to draw deep from your sense of professional mission and discipline, to do satisfying work.
4. Take breaks as you would if you were working in your office.
- Do this to refresh your body and mind.
5. Communicate and stay in touch with your colleagues.
- Keep up more casual communication habits to maintain relationships and a sense of normalcy.
- Confirm receipt of messages and check in with your colleagues when you start or end your day.
Working at home in the age of COVID-19 poses some special challenges. And self-care means exactly that: taking care of yourself by yourself. What it is not is selfish. Try out the following for starters:
1. Be kind to yourself.
- Working at home is a big transition, and like any transition, takes getting used to.
2. Although you can do this, avoid working in your sleepwear.
- Dressing for the day tells your brain it’s not a weekend and you’re not sick.
- You’ll find you’re more productive when you dress for the day.
3. Take scheduled breaks in different ways.Get up and stretch every hour or so (set an alarm).
- Walk around your home while chatting with friend on phone.
4. Set “in office” hours and communicate this to your housemates.
- If you must, tape a “Do not Disturb” or “At Work” sign outside or on your workspace.
5. Keep in touch with your colleagues in different ways.
- Make time each day to text with colleagues, check in personally, and see how they’re doing.
- Don’t limit yourself to emails and text messages, the phone may sometimes be better (video telephone even better if available).
6. Keep a consistent sleep schedule.
- Stick to the same wake time and bedtime to avoid fluctuations in energy during the day.
7. Eat and hydrate mindfully.
- Eating a real lunch and drinking enough water gives you the nourishment to have consistent energy.
8. Build some time for exercise.
- Whether it’s going for a brisk walk, or walking up and down your apartment building’s stairs (while practising social distancing), exercise to reset and refresh.
- Check out online no-cost exercise classes.
9. Give meditation a try.
- Meditation can help reduce stress, build focus and improve sleep.
- No-cost basic meditation apps that guide beginners can be found online.
Here are some resources for working remotely successfully that you can dig into including a blogpost shared by ISSofBC board member Taruna Goel, who’s been a remote worker for 12 years:
The Rise of the Remote Worker (Taruna Goel)
- World Economic Forum – Transition to remote work
- Tech Soup – Effective telecommuting practices
- Inc – 23 essential tips for working remotely
- Everyday Health – Work from home survival guide
Finally, remember to:
- Wash your hands frequently and stay home if possible.
- Practice social distancing if you have to go out.
- If you think you have COVID-19 take the self-assessment
- Self-isolate at home for 10 days if you have COVID-19 symptoms
March 26, 2020
What to do if you were assessed for COVID-19 or need to self-isolate
What do you know about self-isolation and managing yourself after you’ve been assessed, but not tested, for COVID-19? Below are handouts in 26-28 languages produced by the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP). Please watch the video below on how to customize the resources for your local needs.
The phone number at the bottom of the handouts are for Ontario residents. For BC, the phone number is 811 for HealthLink BC.
What to do if you might have COVID-19
Handouts below are for people who have been assessed in emergency rooms, urgent care or assessment centres.
How to self-isolate
Handouts below tell people what to do if they have to self-isolate. You need to self-isolate if you:
- Had close contact with someone sick or recently arrived from travel: 14 days;
- Have symptoms: 14 days from when symptoms started;
- Were tested: and awaiting results and instructions from public health.
March 23, 2020
Updates on income tax
- The deadline to file your income tax and benefit return will be deferred until June 1, 2020.
- A flat-payment benefit will provide income support to workers in a variety of circumstances – related as well as not-related to COVID-19.
- COVID-19 symptoms self-assessment tool can help you determine if you or a loved one may need further assessment or testing for COVID-19.
- Q&A about COVID-19 in four languages and videos on COVID-related topics in Mandarin and Cantonese.
- Info sheets and videos about COVID-19-related topics in Arabic.
ISSofBC remote case management approach shared
A comprehensive case management service approach using technology to support vulnerable populations has been made available for other service providers to adapt and modify for their own use.
The service approach template was developed by ISSofBC’s Settlement Services to guide service delivery for multi-barriered groups such as refugees, seniors, youth and LGBTQ newcomers during the current COVID-19 health crisis.
See below template which has been shared with service providers in BC and Canada as well as with government.
March 19, 2020
Message from ISSofBC CEO
Dear ISSofBC friend,
The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting our daily lives in various ways, creating anxiety and concern for many. As this health crisis continues to evolve, we at ISSofBC will do our best to help keep our employees, clients, volunteers and our communities safe and healthy.
We are closely monitoring and following guidelines and directives issued by the public health authorities and have taken active steps to promote social distancing as a means to reduce community spread of the virus.
As of March 18, 2020, all 13 ISSofBC locations in B.C. are closed to the public until further notice. However, services continue with most of our staff working out of home and connecting with clients by phone or online. They are being mobilized to contact active, current clients on the status of programs and services. In-person services are being provided to clients identified as vulnerable by our program funders with whom we continue to be actively engaged.
Except for the primary care clinics in both ISSofBC Welcome Centres in Vancouver and Surrey which are seeing only existing patients through continuity-of-care on a follow-up appointment basis, all organizations occupying space in these facilitieshave also suspended operations, switching to online or phone services. Community outreach initiatives hosted in these facilities have also been cancelled.
There’s an incredible amount of information circulating out there, many of them misleading and inaccurate. Do stay with the trusted sources if you need up-to-date information about the COVID-19 situation: Public Health Agency of Canada, BC Ministry of Health, and BC Centre for Disease Control.
We will do our best to keep you updated on our services and operations in a timely way through our website. You may also email email@example.com for general inquiries.We hope that with each one of us doing our share, we can look forward to a healthy outcome sooner rather than later. Until then, please take care of yourself and your family.
March 17, 2020
ISSofBC offices closed March 18 until further notice
To help reduce the community spread of COVID-19, ISSofBC’s offices are closed but services continue.
While most ISSofBC staff will be working out of home, they will be providing services mostly by phone or online. In-person services will be strictly limited to clients that are identified as vulnerable by our program funders.
Even before the closure, ISSofBC had taken active steps to support “social distancing” as a means to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including canceling or postponing large-group gatherings or meetings, canceling non-essential in-person program activities, and posting announcements at office entrances barring access to ISSofBC premises by individuals who fit the risk profile issued by government health authorities. These were all done to safeguard the health of our employees and the community.
Active ISSofBC clients can expect to be contacted on the status of their program/service. We ask for your patience to allow us time to connect with you.
More updates will be provided in the coming days so please continue to check in with us!
March 16, 2020
Message to ISSofBC clients and friends
COVID-19 pandemic is affecting our lives in many ways and creating worry for many people.
ISSofBC is working to keep our employees and communities safe and healthy. We are closely following guidelines and directions from government health authorities and are doing what they recommend.
We are cleaning and disinfecting our offices more, especially the high-traffic areas. We have hand sanitizers at reception areas and in offices.
We are requiring “social distancing” for staff, volunteers and clients, changing program activities as needed with groups. We are also reminding staff, volunteers and clients what to do to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
These efforts may change our service delivery to clients. Programs or appointments might change, and we promise to update you as soon as there is new information. Thank you for your understanding and support.
We hope that with each one of us doing our share, we can look forward to a healthy outcome for all sooner rather than later. Please take care of yourself and your families.