Article developed by Inova Consultancy.

Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions.

Dalai Lama

November 2020… If I had told myself back in November 2019 that I would be working from my sofa at home for 6 months I wouldn’t have believed it! No one had anticipated that it could or would last this long.

Coronavirus is everywhere. Even if you manage to tune out from the news for a while, it is very difficult to go a week without noticing it. Whilst the future looks promising with more and more positive news stories about a vaccine, it can be hard for us to focus on happiness right here and now in our daily lives.

As many countries have now entered a second lockdown, many people face feeling tired and frustrated with the unpredictable virus and ever changing government restrictions. However, this is actually a key time for us to reflect on what really makes us happy and reconsider our approach to work!

Happiness at work in 2020

Throughout the pandemic, well-being and happiness in the workplace have been placed under the spotlight. Now, more than ever, it is critical to consider our attitude to work and our mental health.

There has been a steady decline in workplace happiness the last decade, Psychology Today has reported a decline from 51% to 41% in the last three years alone. But what impact did the lockdowns specifically have?

Research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) involved surveying their members at 3 points in the year January/February, March/April, and August/September. It is interesting to see that in March/April (lockdown 1 for the UK), working from home was initially a positive, uplifting experience. Cutting the time travelling to and from work and the flexibility of remote working allowed some individuals to feel liberated adopting these new methods.

However, this changed in the months up to the second lockdown. The CMI reported an decrease from 67% (March/April) to 62% (August/September) in the well-being of workers. Despite this, the scores of remote workers were still higher than those on-site.

But what lessons have been learnt that can help us feel more motivated, happy and productive in the second lockdown?

Lessons to learn from the first Lockdown!

Many journalists and bloggers have been documenting their experiences throughout the pandemic. Here are 5 key lessons learnt and tips on how to make the most of the second lockdown and beyond!

  • Start off small…

“I feel a lot more in control this time around because I’ve realised I am the only person in control of myself.”- Holly Richardson

We can hope, wish and wait for the vaccine to come around but what can we do now to make our lives that little bit better? You could do this by thinking about the small things everyday. Write down two things that you enjoy everyday and you will soon start to develop a more positive mindset.

Which areas of your work do you find the most fulfilling? Are there any tasks you enjoy the most? What can you do for yourself? What are you proud of?

It has been said that sometimes we need to be our own best friend. We can’t control the future but we can take small steps in the short-term to be happier!

  • Keeping Boundaries

The added comfort of working in your own home can sometimes be both a blessing and a burden! Working in rooms which your brain naturally associates with other tasks and activities (e.g. cooking or sleeping) can blur the boundaries.

One piece of advice is to not start carrying out household tasks whilst you are working or on your breaks. Don’t start hoovering or washing up all the dishes! Try to keep them separate and limit yourself only to tasks you would normally do in an office environment. This includes limiting the amount of time spent on social media!

  • Workspace environment

This leads onto the third point- the actual environment where you work. Whilst there is little you can do to change the layout of your house, start small by ‘getting ready for work’. Make sure you still shower and dress fully! Are you secretly wearing your pajama bottoms?

What do you usually use in the office to help you organise your work? Can you use sticky notes or a white board to visual deadlines?

  • Routine

It can be quite daunting to manage all your time away from the work environment especially with added distractions at home. Keep to a structured routine if possible. Try to wake up with time spare to get ready for your morning meeting!

Another good tip is to have a quick walk. How long are you allowed for your lunch break? Can you spare 10 minutes to have a quick walk around the block? Natural sunlight helps the brain to stimulate the hormone serotonin and will help your productivity in the rest of the day. Make the most of the light before it gets dark!

  • Keep connected!

Whether you have a full conversation or just a quick hello in the morning- the benefits of social interaction are profound. In the second lockdown, more and more businesses are being able to use virtual meeting software such as zoom. Perhaps you could suggest a social night for your team for 1 hour every month? This is a great way to stay connected with your colleagues outside the formal work environment.

The Happiness @ Work Project – Inova’s upcoming event!

Whether we are in or out of the office, Happiness at work is more important than ever! At Inova, we have designed our Happiness@Work event to help managers connect with their teams online over the holiday session!

Are you wanting to help your team thrive and maintain momentum?  We have lots of creative ideas for you in our Fun Virtual Team Building workshop to encourage happiness!

Be proactive and sign up today to join us Friday 18th December! Register via the link below: https://virtualteambuildingholidayseason.eventbrite.co.uk

Resources

Workplace happiness has been declining for a decade – here’s how working from home could turn it around, https://www.stylist.co.uk/life/happiness-at-work-decline-wfh-tips/441669

The changing face of employee happiness, https://www.managers.org.uk/knowledge-and-insights/article/the-changing-face-of-employee-happiness/ (Tuesday 3rd November 2020)

Coronavirus: How to be happier while working from home, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-54886125 (Tuesday 17th November 2020)

I Live Alone. This Is My Survival Guide For The Second Lockdown, https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/live-alone-lockdown-survival-guide_uk_5fa101aec5b6128c6b5be4df?guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAIEQKmNPgnXO3I0KFz57ys_6ESYi_XNjU-HTJRzVKsfCrT-6e-U-mlIrwh35LJR4ZQGsJYm010kr33YDy6kqsrXo4D1TJM5BlFhPA1ewiEGpkOiZW1A jpm48RHZ0trttRzJKdYLFJsgGDDl4_nQP12U_J-fCMGo9eGBm-o57Pkp6&guccounter=2 (Thursday 5th November 2020)

A professor of happiness explains how to deal with COVID-19 https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/coronavirus-covid19-science-of-wellbeing-yale-advice/ (21st April 2020

“What the first lockdown taught me about taking control of my own happiness” https://www.stylist.co.uk/health/mental-health/lockdown-2-wellbeing-tips-lessons/444789 (November 2020)