With the global health crisis forcing many finance professionals to work from home, it is essential to make this a sustainable (as well as productive) experience. For some, remote working might be a completely new experience, and finding a balance between personal and professional commitments can be very tricky. Arguably, achieving this balance requires taking frequent, healthy breaks away from laptops and the steady stream of digital notifications.
“As soon as you feel disengaged with your work, take a break and listen to the needs of your body,” said Dirusha Ganapathy Juta, managing director at Beyond Transform, an HR consultancy based in South Africa. “You may find that more breaks are needed as you find yourself working within an overwhelmed world. It is therefore important to rebalance by completely disconnecting from your work schedules, as and when you need to.”
According to Juta, this also means physically distancing yourself from your workspace in order to allow your brain to take a break and your mind to reset.
We spoke to Juta and Fred Roed, chief executive of Heavy Chef, a South Africa-based community platform for entrepreneurs, to discover ways in which finance professionals can reset while working from home.
Get into nature. “Connecting with the environment gives us a sense of belonging, and one of the best ways to do this is by allowing your senses to be stimulated by nature,” explained Juta. “A mere walk in the garden can do wonders for your mind and keep you focused and alert … a few breaths of fresh air, listening to and observing the birds, and feeling the earth and grass beneath your feet.”
Take meditation and stretching breaks. According to Roed, taking regular breaks to stretch and meditate can alleviate anxiety and boost one’s focus during the day.
“Create an inviting place in your home to stretch, breathe, and meditate, which can give you the shots of dopamine that will make you feel good,” said Roed. “There are plenty of deep breathing and meditation apps available to help you. Essentially, this is about creating rituals and daily habits which uplift you and keep you energised throughout the day.”
Engage in community projects. “If you ever wanted to support a worthy cause, then now is the time to be of service to others and to contribute to your country and this world in a meaningful way,” said Juta. “For example, this could take the form of the coordination of donations needed to fund medical supplies, producing content to educate the community, or writing articles … all of this can be done from the comfort of your own home.”
Prepare healthy snacks. When working from home, eating fresh and nutritious food is especially important — particularly when professionals have to deal with the negative news flow (and resulting anxiety) surrounding the health crisis.
Roed suggested taking time away from your desk to learn how to make a good cup of coffee in a new way, expand your collection of herbal teas, and prepare nutritious snacks.
“Eating ‘clean’ helps you to ‘think clean’,” he noted. “I enjoy baking spinach muffins and seed bars, for example, and the preparation around this helps me to relax and reset.”
Indulge in small luxuries. “Whilst it is important to keep up to date, it is also essential to avoid excess exposure to the media, emails, and texts relating to the pandemic,” advised Juta.
She recommended that finance professionals limit their availability to specific times in the day, not only to keep up to date with work but also to avoid becoming overwhelmed with news and information.
“This may be the perfect time to play your musical instrument, try out a new yoga app, or enjoy a bath with a few drops of diluted lavender oil … all of which are known for relaxation and stress relief,” Juta added.
— Jessica Hubbard is a freelance writer based in South Africa. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Drew Adamek, an FM magazine senior editor, at Andrew.Adamek@aicpa-cima.com.