In January 2020, I was thinking how nice it would be to be able to work from home, the ideal solution to achieving a great work life balance and how I thought it could improve mental health generally for many of us.

No commute to work, not having to think about what to wear, less money spent on lunch and coffees, and no worrying about what the traffic is going to be like on the way home.

In March 2020, like for many of us, my wish came true and I was thinking “how brilliant is this, I’m going to be working from home, well for at least three weeks, four at the most’’. I said goodbye to my colleagues and carried my work life in a box, quite excited for the novelty of homeworking.

However, after many months, I realised that the reality of full-time home working, may not be as joyful as first thought. Yes, I found there are lots of positives in terms of being more productive, saving time and money and being able to put a wash on during my lunch break. But there was something about having to work from home, that made it less appealing - and I missed that social interaction, impromptu conversation, ability to learn and help others sitting close by.

Luckily, at Skipton, the vision for the future is to put the days of having to work solely from home behind us, embracing a hybrid approach, recognising the benefits of both home and office work. My team, the telephone BDM team, believes that being able to meet regularly in the office is a great opportunity to share ideas, collaborate and problem solve. We recognise that we must aim to do what’s right to support brokers in the best way possible, whilst promoting colleague well-being, and flexibility in the workplace.

And as we say goodbye to 2021 and start 2022 with optimism, home working may still be the norm for a lot of you. Therefore, I’ve put together my top tips for keeping well, especially during the dark and cold winter months.

My top tips are:

  • Take regular breaks - whether its going for a cuppa or stretching your legs, taking a break could provide perspective, clarity and rejuvenation.
  • Get some fresh air at least once a day - how about a walk on your lunch, or an early morning run? It is reported that exposure to sunlight can boost your mood.
  • Try and keep work separate - turn your work phone off, shut down your laptop, or close your home office door- make sure your relaxation space is free from any ‘work stuff’.
  • Plan mid-week things to look forward to - even if it’s just a cinema night, or meal with friends, I have found that a mid-week treat can really help to boost motivation and productivity.
  • Talk to your colleagues regularly via phone, or video call - to keep that sense of team spirit alive and if you’re able and comfortable to, plan to meet colleagues face-to-face on occasion.
  • Turn on the radio or listen to some music - for a bit of low background noise and for a great sense of company.

Many of us have had to adjust to a new normal, but I believe we should embrace change and take any positives forward. We should make our working environment work for us, supporting our wellbeing now and in the future. For me, in doing that, it means I can do a better job of working hard to support you, the brokers, to help more of your clients to own their own homes.