Health & Wellbeing guidance for working or studying remotely
Health & Wellbeing resources
Staying Well When Working or Studying Remotely
Working or Studying remotely can be difficult and lonely, especially when it is for prolonged periods of time. With the current situation as it is, it is unclear when we will be able to return to the university so there are a few things you can do to ensure you stay well while we all remain off campus.
- Connect & communicate - Stay in touch with daily catch-ups and regular chats. There are many tools you can use, including Skype and Facetime, and others you may be just getting used to, such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom. If you feel like you haven’t heard from someone for a while message them to make sure they’re coping ok. We all need to be there for each other.
- Create your ideal environment - While we aren’t in our usual surroundings to work or study we are all in the place where we’d normally go to when at the end of a normal day, home. Make sure you’re as comfortable as you can be to study or work, sit at a desk, park up on the couch, even hop onto the bed if you like. It may not be what we’re used to but you can still be comfortable.
- Get outside - We all need lots of fresh air but be mindful of the guidance around the current lockdown and Social Distancing. If you can get outside safely and not come into contact with others, such as in your own garden, or a shared but vacant shared space - do so, if you can’t, open a window to get some fresh air.
- Stay nourished and hydrated - Be sure to eat well and drink plenty of water. It’s easy to graze while you’re at home. You may find yourself raiding the cupboards more than you would normally so just keep check to make sure you aren’t eating too much of the wrong food. By the same token, you may find yourself engrossed in something and so forget to eat at all. You need to stay nourished as you would do normally so remember to eat.
- Exercise - While outside time may be severely reduced you should still get up and move around. There’s plenty of exercises you can do to stay active, even from the comfort of your couch.
- Rest - Make sure you get plenty of rest and sleep. Take time in each day to relax and switch off from your work or studies. It’s all too easy just to keep going beyond the time you normally would call it a day, don’t. Put your feet up and relax.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself or others - Adapting to home working or studying under the current circumstances can be stressful. Be patient - we all need get used to a new way of working. You may well be using certain technology for the first time so it can take a bit of time for you and others to get used to it.
- Family First - Never before has it been so important to put our loved ones first. It can be very difficult to manage your personal and work life at the moment, however, one thing should be clear family will always take priority over work.
- Ask for help & support - Don’t hesitate in asking for what you need. This is a rapidly developing situation that changes on a daily basis, so there may be issues you encounter that you need help with. By the same token, be that helping hand for someone else. We all need to step up and do our bit just now and be there for each other.
- Try to have fun! - Take time to share and enjoy the bad jokes, funny GIFs and stories. We all need to keep our spirits up at the moment.
We all miss the camaraderie of the day to day chats we have with our fellow students and colleagues, but you can still have a laugh while you work remotely.
Remember to keep active!
Even though we are stuck indoors we can still exercise to help keep ourselves healthy in both body and mind. UofG Sport have a number of videos and instructions on how we can keep moving while we work and study remotely.
Key support for Health & Wellbeing
Help is here if you need it
These are challenging times for all of us, and everyone has different pressures on them managing their studies, work and personal lives. Sometimes you might feel a bit overwhelmed by it all, and that is ok, we should all make that little bit more effort to look out for each other.
- It’s perfectly understandable to feel anxious right now
- Limit the news and be careful what you read - stick to trusted sources as there’s plenty of fake news articles out there
- Have breaks from social media and mute things which could trigger anxiety, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed
- Stay connected with people by phone, email, FaceTtime, Skype, etc
- Try to focus on the here and now - don’t let your thoughts and plans get too far ahead
If you feel like you need additional support there are a number of resources:
University support available to both Staff and Students
- Visit the University’s Counselling & Psychological Services webpages where there are various self-help resources, including information on managing anxiety and stress, as well as
Additional support for students
- The University subscribes to the Big White Wall, a safe space online to get things off your chest, explore your feelings and learn how to improve and self-manage your mental health and wellbeing.
- It’s free to useand completely anonymous, meaning no one will know you have chosen to use it
- Accessible 24/7 and provides online peer and professional support by trained counsellors
- Register through the Join Us button on the site, and then select Universities & Colleges under Organisation.
- Financial Aid remains available for students, although face-to-face appointments to discuss these options are naturally no longer available. Please visit Financial Aid for guidance on the support available and how to apply.
Additional support for staff
- PAM Assist – Confidential support and advice 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Telephone 0800 882 4102. PAM also provide online self-help resources:-
- PAM Assist Login
- Username - UoG
- Password – UoG1
- Occupational Health – Staff can be referred by their Line Manager to the University’s Occupational Health Service, which provides support to promote and preserve both the physical and mental wellbeing of all staff.
Mental Health support websites
• NHS Inform -a great general site for managing stress
• Living Well - grounding exercises for managing anxiety
• Mind - a charity with lots of useful information on anxiety, depression, trauma and also have grounding exercises.
• Brothers in Arms Scotland - specifically cover issues men may be experiencing.
• Beating The Blues - provides access to self-directed cognitive behaviour therapy.
- Breathing Space - 0800 83 85 87
- Samaritans - 116 123 (free from any phone)
- Living Life Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - 0800 328 9655
There are a number of apps that you can use to manage any stress or anxiety you may be feeling
Guidance for working or studying remotely
Top tips for working or studying remotely
- Create a daily routine - Try to stick to a regular routine. If you’d normally shower and have a coffee before going to the University, continue to do so as it helps maintain a routine to distinguish between work and rest time. Try to create a morning ‘commute’ for yourself as you would normally - go for a short walk before working.
- Keep a dedicated workspace - Pick a spot free from distraction and set boundaries. Not all of us have room to make an office at home, but we can all pick a spot that we feel best working from. Get comfortable and crack on with what you have planned for the day.
- 121s and regular meetings - These should continue, even when working remotely. If you had these in the diary before the closure of the campus then every effort should be made for these to continue. They provide an excellent opportunity to check in and so will be even more valuable now we are no longer all working in close proximity.
- Balance work time and processing time - Working remotely means there are likely to be a lot more virtual meetings/conference calls to attend. It’s important to take some time in between these to process what has been discussed and straighten up in your mind what actions may be required of you as a result. You should also ensure that you don’t fill up your diary too much that it stops you from being able to do what you need to. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you don’t have the time to attend a meeting, you can always propose an alternative time that allows you to concentrate on the job at hand.
- Plan your day - Create a to-do list for yourself. Writing down what you need to do each day gives you a checklist of what you need to get through each day. You can prioritise what you need to concentrate on first and work through the list until everything is done.
- Continue to collaborate - If you worked on certain tasks collaboratively before there’s no reason this should stop while working remotely. There are plenty of tools you can use to collaborate and share files with your colleagues. You might not be used to using them yet but you’ll soon find it’s easy enough to work together from different locations.
- Get guidance on your work - If you are unclear of what you are meant to be doing ask. Speak to your Line Manager if you are unclear on what you should be doing. Some roles at the university are significantly more difficult to do while working remotely so check in to make sure you are doing what you can. If you are getting overwhelmed by your workload, again, speak up. It’s easy to get anxious if you too much on your plate so get in touch with your manager so the work can be prioritized to make it more manageable.
- Schedule (and take!) regular breaks - Ensure you stay active and hydrated. It’s easy when working remotely to forget to take a break. By setting yourself mini-tasks you can take a break when they’re finished, to clear your head for a few minutes.
- Your working hours haven’t changed - Don’t forget that while the way we are working has changed, the hours we should be working haven’t. You should try as much as possible not to put in more hours than you normally would. Just because we are currently working in the same place we live doesn’t mean you have to work all the time. Log off at the same time you normally would.
- Manage your notifications - Ensure you get the information you need but are not interrupted or overwhelmed. As everything moves online, for the time being, you may be involved in more chats. Prioritise the ones you need to respond to, and pick up the others when you feel like you have more space to do so.
- Set an end-of-day routine - Shut down, switch off and focus on your own needs. Remember, if you were at the University, you would turn off the computer at the end of the day, you still need to do this, although your commute might be shorter!
Practical Tips when working or studying Remotely
The UK’s broadband networks will be under considerable strain during this period where many of us will be working and studying remotely, and the UK ISPs are doing what they can provide as much capacity as possible to support the country, but there are some common sense things we can all do to improve the situation and minimise our impact on network capacity.
- Whilst you are logged into the VPN using theUofG Client avoid using this device for other non-work internet services or streaming audio or video whilst the VPN is active
- If you connect via Wifi make sure you have a good strong signal. Can you move closer to your router?
- Turn on your radio or watch broadcast TV rather than stream music or video whenever possible
- If you have to stream video, can you reduce the resolution- reducing from 4K to HD, or HD to SD is about a 75% bandwidth saving each time
- Be aware of what everyone else at home is doing on the internet and work with them to not overload things when you need to work
- Giving your broadband router a reboot from time to time can help prevent issues, maybe once a week?
- Understand that domestic broadband connections are sold as a shared service and is designed to have contention, and at times of peak usage you cannot always expect to get the advertised speeds.
- Ensure you are aware of your broadband contract details, any usage limits, make sure you know the contact and account details for your ISP in case you need to talk to them for technical support.
You can trying to use 4G and a personal hotspot if performance on your wired broadband is poor, but
- understand your data usage limit, and
- if all data in your contract is available for use as tethering or if there is any fair use limit
- use your phone to carefully monitor your data use, but make sure you have correctly set the day of the month when your allowances renew
Getting your point across with email
Working remotely puts an added emphasis on how we write emails what we want to say. A lot of how we communicate will now be done by email or through chats on the likes of Microsoft Teams, so we need to make sure we get our point across in the best way possible.
- Use informative subject lines on emails - It is important that recipients of your messages have a clear indication of the content of your email so they can prioritise it appropriately. Subject lines should be specific and concise.
- Be clear about the email/message’s purpose - Whether you are sending an email/ message for information or for action, make it very clear within the first few lines what is expected. If possible, you should also include a due date. Use the BLUF approach – Bottom Line Up Front.
- Keep it short and sweet - Does your audience have time to read your lengthy email/message? They may be reading them on a mobile device. Emails/messages that are short and well-structured and get to the point quickly are more likely to be read and responded to.
- Consider your tone - Avoid overuse of exclamation marks and capital letters. Capital letters can be used sparingly to emphasise a word or phrase. If they are used excessively then this is the virtual equivalent of shouting.
- Watch out for attachments on emails - Consider the file size and format of attachments. Not all computer users use the same software, which may make the attachment incompatible. Other organisations may have policies that discourage the sending or receiving of certain file types. Consider using Office 365 OneDrive or Teams instead.
- Use a short informative email signature - Your email signature should at a minimum include your contact details. It can also state your working pattern, which will help other people time their communications or response appropriately.
- Stand back - Is the email/message clear and concise? Are any actions or deadlines obvious? Is it tonally acceptable? Give it a final read and avoid sending emails/messages in haste. Check it for spelling and grammar. MS Outlook and Teams has tools that will help.
It's not all about work
While the rules about social distancing continue we can use social media to remain connected with our friends and family. This can be vitally important in times such as we find ourselves in as self-isolating or simply keeping our distance from each other can make the world a lonelier place.
It’s ok to take some time out of your day to check in with your friends or a loved one, in fact it is actively encouraged. We all need to look for each other in these challenging times so you should make sure you make time available to keep in touch.
Not all of us are tech savvy so here are a few suggestions of what you could use to keep in touch and retain a bit of normality in these strange times.
- Smart phones have conferencing facilities, so why not dial in your friends to see how they are all coping
- Video chats using the likes of Teams, Facetime, Skype and now Whatsapp can be a great way to see the person you are talking to
Display Screen Equipment (DSE)
- Safety & Environmental Protection Service has provided some useful information on how to set up a work area at home. Working remotely will likely mean staff and students are using computer equipment in ways that are not typical of their normal work use.