The GoSmartHR Blog

HR Leadership in a time of crisis – Part 2

The importance of routine

Each department within an organization has its own set of challenges and possible threats.  Most departments had risk management and contingency plans in place – at least for predictable risks.  I’m willing to bet, however, that very few have global pandemics on their lists of possible threats!

Having been thrown into a time of potential turmoil, there is unprecedented pressure on all departments across all organisations, but because this has so much impact on the individual, it is vitally important that HR departments are able to respond to the needs of both the staff who are under enormous pressure.


In the course of any individual’s day, there is a multitude of emotions, challenges, frustrations and other stressors that affect the way we perform and respond in the workplace. Now, during a national lockdown, stressors seem amplified as our whole world feels like it has been turned up-side-down.

As our president has already stated, we all need to keep calm and take the necessary precautions to stay safe and keep well.  Enough information is available on this topic, but with everything changing so fast, how do people keep calm and avoid suffering from the proverbial cabin fever.

We believe that one of the most important things people can do is to maintain some sense of routine – and if you did not previously have a routine, now is the time to establish one.

Now, more than ever, the little things are the things that will help to get you through these uncertain times.

Most of us will have read about the importance of making one’s bed each morning, and if we carry this philosophy into the rest of our days, we remain more grounded than when we simply float through the day.

In addition, a good routine will prevent unnecessary snacking, binge-watching movies and series and other things that, when done in excess, can contribute to depression, anxiety and other mental health complications.

So, making one’s bed and keeping good personal hygiene are the easy parts of the routine because most of us do these daily anyway.  What else should form a part of our daily routines, as a working individual during lockdown?

People who are used to being office-based risk one of the two possible issues:

  • Working too much (to prove that you’re actually working)
  • Working too little (because home brings it’s own challenges and it kind of feels like a holiday)

To avoid this, doing one or more of the following may help:

  • Set aside a dedicated work area.  It doesn’t have to be an office, although that is great if you can.  It could be a small desk placed in a quieter area of your home.  Try to ensure that the people who share your space understand that is your dedicated work space so that they can respect it.  If you have little ones or young pets in the home, keep things out of reach from pulling or chewing.
  • Set your working schedule to begin at the time you would usually arrive at the office, and finish at the same time you would usually leave the office.  This gives you a huge advantage – you gain free time for the time that you would ordinarily have spent commuting to and from the office.  And you saved some money on transport too!
  • Don’t forego your lunch time.  If you usually take some time out for lunch, continue to do that.  Not only is it important for you to take breaks from time to time to keep your mind alert, but you should also stick to your regular eating schedule too.
  • MOVE YOUR BODY.  This cannot be stressed enough.  Working from home can lead to an enormous decline in physical activity, which is not only bad for the waistline, but also for your general and mental wellbeing.  You don’t have to have any fancy gym equipment, in fact, you could have fun inventing different ways to work out – using different everyday household items to make your workouts a little more interesting.
  • Where possible watch what you eat and drink – if you have fresh produce, try your best to eat that. And please, don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated.  Work on incorporating more water into your daily routine.  What a great time to start this habit.
  • Self-isolation doesn’t mean not talking to others.  You need to stay in touch with colleagues and friends and there are numerous ways to do this using modern technology that is available to most working people.  Don’t get stuck out there on your own – be proactive about staying in touch.
  • Stay informed, but don’t keep the news going 24/7. Enough said?
  • Be kind to yourself. Yes, you’re going through a lot. Acknowledge that and allow yourself to feel. At times you may feel more frightened, alone, overwhelmed, scared than other times. Stop, acknowledge how you are feeling and breathe.  If you enjoy a long, hot bath, do that. If you’re used to meditating, do that.  If you’ve never really had time to stop and smell the roses – start to find ways that will help to calm you. If you’re religious (and maybe even if you are not) pray.
  • Be kind to those around you. Many people may be alone in lockdown, but many are not. Those in lockdown with you are also stressed, no matter what their age.  While you may be fortunate enough to have work to get on with, keep in mind that those around you may be anxious, bored or even feeling useless as they may not be in a position to help out in these circumstances.  Strong doses of empathy will be required with a pinch of patience and tolerance.
  • Keep a diary. It might sound a bit odd, but keeping a diary is a great way of acknowledging our feelings and can be soothing.  Those who are more creative will be able to use this as a creative exercise too.  It will be an interesting reference to look back on when things settle down again.
  • SLEEP! So much material available on this subject, but in essence, try to give yourself a bit of quiet time before going to sleep.  That means no screens.  Allow your mind to slowly get into sleep mode.  We know this is easier said than done and we know how worried everyone is, but sleep is a vital part of getting through tough times. Even though it may be hard, we suggest you continue waking up at the time you usually do, so that when the time comes to get back to your ‘normal’ routine, it is not a struggle to res-establish sleeping patterns.
  • Weekends are weekends. Golden rule – this is the time to forego the weekly grind, to relax and restore.  Sure, you won’t be able to socialise like you used to but be sure to do something different over weekends.  Give yourself a lie-in, indulge in the relative silence that lockdown has provided, if you are lucky enough to have a garden, tend to it and enjoy it. Try your hand at something creative, you might surprise yourself.

Build all of these things into a routine that will work for you during the lockdown period and will keep you ready for beyond the lockdown.

We’ve provided some basic ideas here in the hope that these will stimulate some thought on other things that you can do to maintain a sense of normality in these strange and unpredictable times.

Stay calm, stay safe and stay home!

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