Video – VLog #68
How can I switch off after work?
How do I turn off work from home?
How can I relax my mind after work?
Script – VLog #68
David Logan: Hi and welcome to an episode of The Techno Dinosaur Meets the I.T. Geek. My name is David Logan. I am the I.T. Geek. Next to me is Willie Nicol, the Techno Dinosaur. I’m based here in Annan, Dumfries and Galloway where the sun is shining.
David Logan: So, Willie, how are you and where are you today?
Willie Nicol: Hi David, I’m very well thanks. I’m sitting here in sunny Troon, Costa Del Troon, South Ayrshire, Scotland, U.K. My name is Willie Nicol. I am the Techno Dinosaur because I’m technologically challenged – it’s an age thing! However, I’m also a personal development life coach, helping people with their “stuff”.
David Logan: I was about to say there, you’re almost a silver surfer but you don’t have much kind of hair on top now.
Willie Nicol: Well, I’ve certainly got more than you David!
David Logan: So, Willie, question for you, question for you this week. I work in I.T., in technology as you well know, and I work within offices where they’ve got a number of staff working from home since March of 2020. I was overhearing some conversations, conversations …. Some people are unable to switch off at night-time when they finish work. So these are members of staff who are remote working on the computers into the office. How can we, as remote working, switch off at night-time when we finish our daily job?
Willie Nicol: That’s a very good question David. Wee bit of background, historically. As you know, the vast majority of people did not work from home. They worked in a factory or an office, whatever it was, so, there was a start time and a stop time. So, when the pandemic hit and people started to work from home, they initially thought, “This is great, I don’t have to get the bus into work. I don’t have to drive through the traffic”, and so on and so forth. But what’s become abundantly clear now is there are actually stressors associated with working from home, and one of these you’ve indicated is that, how do you switch off?
Willie Nicol: So, you won’t be surprised to know, I did a wee bit of research earlier, so I’ll adjust my specs and look at my notes. According to research, people who work from home report higher than normal levels of stress. This is a wee bit old this information so it’s probably worse now but here’s what it is : 41% of employees who work from home consider themselves highly stressed as opposed to 25% who worked “on site” as we say. 42% of those working from home report frequent waking up during the night as opposed to 29% who work on site. And, as you’ve alluded to, people working from home report having a kind of blurry situation when it comes to switching off and stopping their work. I read an article in a paper that said people working from home actually work 2 hours more a day than they would if they worked in the office. So that’s 10 hours a day, sorry, 10 hours a week you’re losing, so to speak.
Willie Nicol: It’s …. sorry, carry on .…
David Logan: Is that maybe because they’re drinking less coffee or less water? Going back and forward?
Willie Nicol: Or maybe they’re drinking more booze, I don’t know! But the crux of the matter is people are having trouble switching off or, as this report says, “unplugging” by ending their workday. Whereas, fairly obviously if you worked in an office, for the sake of argument, and you finished at 5 o’clock, you’re finished at 5 o’clock because you’d have a bus to catch or you were trying to miss the traffic.
Willie Nicol: You’re sitting at home, these things don’t apply, these boundaries are no longer there. Or if there are boundaries, they’re much more blurred than they were before. Also, working from home, there’s no automatic structure, there’s not that …. you know you get up, you get your bus, you commute, you start work, you have lunch, you finish work and then you go home. And during that time you interact with people. You don’t get that working from home. You might interact with your loved ones, your family or your dog or whatever but that’s it, not the wider general public. Also, when you’re at home, there are too many distractions. There’s the postman arrived, “Oh, I better look at that mail. Oh, there’s the Amazon guy delivering a parcel. Oh, I wonder what that is” and so on and so on and so forth, right. You don’t get that at work. So, the distractions when you’re working from home can be quite annoying, “distracting” even.
Willie Nicol: When you’re sitting there, what are you not doing? You’re not getting up and walking about as you probably would do in the office or whatever environment you would normally work in. You’d walk through to the coffee machine or you’d walk through to the kitchen to make a coffee and you’d talk to someone. You don’t do that at home.
Willie Nicol: So, what can we do about this? You mentioned earlier on before we started recording about getting a dedicated workplace. If you’re fortunate enough to have a spare room in your house, utilise that so that becomes your work as opposed to sitting in an office or going into your factory or whatever, right. Unfortunately, that’s not an option that’s available to everyone. So, I’ve heard horrible stories about people, you know, sitting on their bed on their laptop on their knee, right. Working in their bedroom or working on the kitchen table, right. And it’s very hard to switch off from that and then say, “Right, uhm, I’ve finished my work and I’m going home now. Well, wait a wee minute, I am home.” So, there’s that kind of mental turmoil if you like. And you’re not getting that physical exercise that I talked about, even walking from one office to another office and so on and so forth. So, what can we do? Now imagine if you’re working from home just now, what did you do when you finished work and came home previously?
David Logan: Jumped in the car.
Willie Nicol: Yeah, and then when you got home what did you do?
David Logan: Said hello to my family and have a meal.
Willie Nicol: Right, OK. Well, what I’m trying to get at here is that you had a routine when you finished work and then you came home, and you probably did something. Forget about having your tea and what not. You might have gone for a walk or a run or a game of bowls or you watch a movie or whatever. You did something to relax at the end of your working day, right. When you’re at home, you tend not to do that. You’ve got to be quite disciplined about saying, “Right I’m finished” at, for the sake of argument, 5pm. And then I’m going to do what I would have done normally. I’d have gone for a walk, or a run, or a game of darts or for a pint or a cup of coffee or catch up with my friends. Whatever it is, but we don’t do that anymore. So, not having that stress, relaxation or not doing it possibly as religiously as you did before, it all kind of blurs into one big working day in the house.
Willie Nicol: So, you’ve got to kind of discipline yourself as I’ll be doing later. I’ll be been going for a walk along the beach because it’s the end of the working day. It’s also the end of the week and it’ll be nice because it’s a lovely sunny day. So, have a routine. Start at a particular time, finish at a particular time, and don’t forget to have a lunch break or tea breaks or whatever. Because I’ve had that myself, you’re sitting on your computer and you haven’t had lunch until your stomach tells you you’re a bit hungry because you’ve forgotten.
Willie Nicol: Connect with your friends. Have fun, I keep saying this, have fun. At the end of the day finish, stop, unplug yourself from your devices, put your phone away, switch your laptop or computer off. You have finished work. You’d be doing that if you we’re in the office. You’d be switching your laptop or computer off, right, and you’d be jumping in your car or whatever. But we don’t do that if we’re working from home. “Oh, I’ll do another hour. I’ll answer a few more emails”, or whatever, and that’s how we end up working 2 hours extra a day for no pay.
Willie Nicol: So, working from home in theory can be great. You can wear shorts like I’m wearing just now and open toed sandals but all the other downsides which weren’t immediately apparent are now becoming much more apparent. So, in a nutshell David, how do you relax at the end of your working day when you’re working from home? Do the same as you normally would have done beforehand. Finish it off, get some relaxation, exercise, fresh air, fun with friends, whatever it is, build that into your routine and say, “I’m going to do this”. Not every day, obviously. I’m going to do this, when I finish my work at home, it is finished, right.
Willie Nicol: I know people who have taken a week off work and switched everything off …. phones, mobiles, laptops, everything else, right. You’ve got to discipline yourself or learn to discipline yourself to say, “when it’s finished, it’s finished”, right.
Willie Nicol: I hope that’s been useful?
David Logan: Excellent, brilliant. One question to you, you’re going for your walk after this, you switch off your computer to go for a walk. Will you take your phone with you?
Willie Nicol: I probably will do because inevitably my wife will phone me and ask me to pop into the supermarket to pick up something that she’s forgotten to buy.
David Logan: Good point.
Willie Nicol: Yes, I will have my phone with me, but I won’t be going down the beach and sitting on a bench reading my emails or I won’t be contacting clients and saying, “Can we rearrange a ….”. No, it’s finished, right. Because your evenings or whatever it is …. you might actually work from home working nightshifts, I don’t know. But when you’re finished, you’re finished, right.
David Logan: Great, fantastic.
Willie Nicol: OK.
David Logan: Thanks for that information. So, basically, have a specified space, allocate a space for your office; stick to your times, start and finish times; take regular breaks; close everything off at the end of that session; and relax and chill. Do what you did prior to home working.
Willie Nicol: Exactly. Obviously as long as that’s possible. I’m not sure what the situation is with gyms, if you were a gym goer, I don’t know whether you could still do that or you would go to the swimming pool for a swim.
Willie Nicol: Obviously there’s still restrictions but if you can’t do those things, substitute something else. Just as long as you switch off. Literally switch your machines off and you switch off up here [points to head].
David Logan: Fantastic. So, we’ll finish there, Willie, thank you for that. To you the viewer, if you struggle to switch off at night-time, you know who to speak to. You can contact us, message below or send us a direct message up above. Look for our videos. Search for Techno Dinosaur Meets The I.T. Geek.
David Logan: Thank for listening to this video. Have a great week everybody. Thank you.
Willie Nicol: Yes, thank you David for listening to me rambling on there. I would just say to everyone …. switch off, it’s good for you! So, remember stay safe, stay well and have some fun! Bye for now.
David Logan: Bye.