Wellbeing Guidance – Staff

COVID-19 and the restrictions it brings are exacting a heavy toll on all of us these days. But there are resources as well as little coping mechanisms or life-hacks that we can all use to try and ease the burden. These are just a few.

Upgrade Your Work-Space

We recognise that many people do not have a separate home office and that you may have to share your workspace with housemates or family members. However, you can still do a lot to look after where you work, making it as welcoming and distraction-free as possible. Here are some hints & tips you might try.

  • Laptops have notoriously bad ergonomics, so add a keyboard and mouse if possible. A larger screen will also help you. Your local IT team may be able to help by allowing you to take home a larger screen – get in touch with them to see what local rules apply.
  • Home tables and chairs are often not best-suited for sustained working. Ideally, your arms should be angled slightly downwards towards your keyboard not upwards. Try raising your chair if possible and/or using cushions. If your screen isn’t height-adjustable, put books under it to raise it to eyelevel. Have a look at the Display Screen Homeworking Self-assessment worksheet to help you set up your working area well.
  • Take a look at the Occupational Health Service guidance on How to Exercise at home which gives simple stretching exercises you can do through the day.
  • Save, save, save your work! If you don’t have remote access to your network drive through the VPN, try using the cloud based OneDrive for back-ups.
  • If you are unable to use the calls functionality in MS Teams or similar software, itemised phone costs may be claimed through expenses. Other costs associated with homeworking (e.g. broadband, utility bills, etc) may not be claimed. You may be able to claim tax relief for these costs, details can be found on the HMRC website. Claims can be made retrospectively, and should ideally be made only once per tax year.
  • Buy a plant or two to make your workspace feel a little more soothing.
  • Remember to get away from your desk regularly, whether that’s to do some stretches, go for a walk in the park or have a delicious snack.

If you need advice

First point: don’t suffer in silence. Second point: please help us put you in touch with our Employee Assistance Service. Contact details are available from HR.

If you’re feeling stressed or anxious

Outside the university, there is TalkingSpace PLUS, an Oxford-based NHS mental health self-referral service, offering free therapy courses, including on how to manage worries around COVID-19, and how to connect with others if you are feeling alone as a result of having to isolate yourself.