Preventing Social Isolation When Working From Home Written by Justin Deonarine, I/O Psychologist During the current COVID-19 outbreak, there is a good chance that you may be asked (or have already been asked) to work from home. When used as a temporary work arrangement (for a day or two), working from home can bring productivity and morale benefits to organizations. However, over an extended period of time, individuals may struggle to maintain relationships with others in the organization. Maintaining strong relationships is a sure-fire way to reduce the effects of social isolation during these times, so here are 3 tips that you can use (or encourage your team to use). Stay in contact! Have check-ins with your colleagues. Leaders: Encourage check-ins between team members, and touch base with your team yourself. Connect with others using video chat. Google Hangouts (and the rest of the Google Suite) is a great way to collaborate on projects online. Try to maintain your work routine, or build a new one! Prepare for work in the same way you typically would. Wake up at the same time, go through your typical morning routine and start work when you would typically be leaving for work. Avoid adding new elements to your routine (e.g. sleeping in) to replace the commute time. Remember: You’ll have to return to work at some point, so you don’t want to alter your morning routine too much! Maintain some water-cooler talk with your colleagues (over the phone or online) before starting your day. Much like it happens in the workplace, do this while preparing your morning coffee/tea/snack. Try to separate your work and your life! As comfortable as it may be, it’s not ideal to work from your couch. Ergonomic issues aside, you may find your home life disrupting your work (e.g. the temptation to watch some TV). Alternatively, you may find it tempting to continue working when the day is over, because everything that you need to do “just a little more work” is already there. Try to set up an informal office area in your home. Especially if there are others around, you may want to have a quiet area where you can take phone calls or connect with colleagues using video chat. A separate room is ideal, as it may be handy to close a door and create a quiet space for tasks where concentration is key. If you can, replicate office conveniences. If you are used to using two screens at work, it will be very hard to adapt to doing the same work using one screen.