Derbyshire Police Federation

Working from home: safety outweighs the feeling of isolation

11 June 2020

Derbyshire Police Federation secretary Kirsty Bunn has admitted that working from home during the coronavirus crisis has had an impact on her mental wellbeing.

The blurred lines between home and work, the difficulties of home schooling children and isolation have all had an impact, she says, but a feeling of guilt that she has been able to work safely from home when many colleagues have been unable to do so has also had a massive effect on her.

“Of course, the big benefit of working from home has been the safety aspect,” says Kirsty, “I am in a role where I have been fortunate enough to be able to work from home but I am acutely aware that others in my profession haven’t had that ability and I do have my concerns that social distancing at work isn’t being taken responsibly.

“I also know I am fortunate that I have previously worked from home on occasions so the concept wasn’t new to me. I feel I am productive as I am quite disciplined. But the fact that this concept has gone on for over 11 weeks, so far,  has been difficult to come to terms with along with the fact there is no end in sight.

“The isolation has definitely had an impact on my own mental health. Some days it’s very difficult to find the motivation to do yet another ‘sameday’. I have had the odd day’s annual leave and would encourage others to do the same to switch off from the routine. I have been to the Federation office on three occasions to meet with members, ensuring social distancing when I have attended. This has felt like an outing and was a nice to be able to vary my routine.”

Kirsty continues: “On some days I have been home schooling either one or three children which has its issues. Then there is the pressure of trying to keep everyone in the household happy while appearing to people on online meetings that you have everything under control. 

“It’s definitely harder to switch off and much easier to migrate back to your workstation and ‘just send a quick email’ only to find yourself on the laptop two hours later. I have found it difficult to draw a line between working at home and normal home life. The days when I totally switch off are very rare which is far from ideal. I would always encourage others to have down time but it’s difficult to sometimes take your own advice.

“It’s been tough for us as a family but I know we have been lucky that we haven’t been touched by the devastation of COVID and when I have been struggling I have reminded myself of why we are doing this and have felt grateful my loved ones have remained healthy and well.”

But, despite the difficulties Kirsty has faced, she believes the way in which working from home has been forced on people due to the pandemic could, in the long-term, benefit those who want to work more flexibly.

“It will be a big step forward if more people have the choice to work from home. The way agile working was put on the UK due to COVID has had a positive effect on flexible working and it will be difficult to argue that it can’t be done or accommodated in the future,” she explained.

The Federation office at Coney Green closed about a week before the country was placed on official lockdown. Kirsty and Federation branch chair Tony Wetton ensured the staff team had the ability, and equipment, to work from home but freely admit they did not think it would go on for so long.

“I think we have all missed the social aspect of being in the office; the spontaneous meetings and catching up with people but I think we have also missed the security of knowing everyone will be OK,” Kirsty added.

 

 

 

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