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Taking time off is important for our wellbeing at this time

I’ve been speaking a lot to our clients and friends over the past few weeks, and there has been a recent spike in how people have been feeling. I’ve heard ‘exhausted’, ‘it’s been full on’, ‘I’m tired’ and ‘it feels like I’ve been hit by a bus’.

With the initial adrenaline rush of the crisis passed, many of us are feeling exhausted. Our work demands have risen due to team members being furloughed, or roles made redundant. Our working hours have risen in replacement of our commute time, and early morning meetings start to creep in. We spend most of our working days at a desk in front of our laptops in and out of Zoom or Teams meetings and most of us will have either cancelled holidays we were supposed to take, or about to take. For some of us we will also have the added pressure of juggling work with children who are not at school or nursery. 

This is beginning to sound like a pretty depressing read, isn’t it? But does it sound familiar? All of these pressures will naturally have an impact on our ability to be creative and our productivity levels. With the lockdown restrictions and work demands of the last few months, it is understandable why some of us have chosen not to take any time off work. And although trips away are now becoming a possibility again, for many a holiday away may not be feasible or desirable. But we all need a break.

It’s important for us all to take some time for self-care, some time to unplug and unwind without too many distractions. Not only do we need it, but we need to encourage others too, for their own mental wellbeing. Here are some simple strategies we would recommend for managers or leaders on how to approach taking holiday:

Get some clarity

Be clear about what your agency’s stance is about taking holiday during this time so that everyone can operate from the same principles.

Redefine holidays

For those not getting a break away from the place they’ve been living and working in since March, we should rethink what a holiday at home might be like. For some of us, it might be some quality time with our kids or caregiving. Our downtime in lockdown is most likely to be centred around staying mentally well. 

Some of my team members have done things they have never done before like setting sail on dinghies in canals in the middle of London, to making amazing cocktails at home with their housemates. We all need to shift our expectations of what our holidays are going to look like for a while.

Show that you care

With temperatures rising over the past few weeks, I’d encourage, if it is possible, to gift your team an early clock off now and again.  As a manager you might need to show extra flexibility if people need it. With the huge impact of Covid-19 on our industry, a lot of our team members might be feeling anxious about their job security, so it is important to let them know what they mean to you by offering a small perk. The additional time in the evening will give them some more time to switch off and relax.

Be a good role model

There is no point encouraging everyone else to take some time off if you carry on working.  Set a good example and others will follow. Don’t disturb people unless it is extremely urgent whilst they are off. Make sure you do a good handover with your team members so you can truly switch off.

Working from home doesn’t have to mean working all day and night. Have a think about how you can be more realistic about how much you can deliver in a day. Question how many back-to-back video calls you are in. Revisit your long to do list and see what you can share with others. Book some time out. We all need it!

About: Aliya Vigor-Robertson

Aliya started her HR career in 1996 and co-founded JourneyHR in 2010. Aliya works with Founders and business leaders in the creative industry and advises them on creating sustainable and creative cultures where their people can thrive and their businesses get great results.

Aliya is also a DBA Expert. Find out more about the DBA’s Experts Register and the new Ask an Expert service here.

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