javascript:__doPostBack('ctl00$body$save','')

Stay safe and feel safe with our COVID secure standards. Read More

Having been in self-isolation after returning from Italy recently, Morag Freathy Managing Director B&I at Compass Group shares her tips on how to stay well and effective whilst working from home for extended periods of time.

With one week done of a two week isolation term I've learnt a lot. Like many in my team, I'm usually travelling around the UK most of the week, meeting lots of people and visiting many different places and environments. 

So... 14 days staying at home was always going to be tough, but some things I did in my first week made it tougher and I've learnt some things that will make it much easier in my second week. 

For those due to embark on isolation or time working from home I thought I would share my learnings in a hope that it will make your home stay slightly easier. Remember to abide by the Government advice if you're in isolation. 

Surprisingly I found myself less likely to look after myself when working from home. Day one saw me scooping the cupboards during the day and eating all the 'bad for you' snacks. Good news, they were all gone by the end of day two!

My meetings were replaced with Teams and Skype calls. These meetings are super effective and efficient because they have hard timelines and come with structured agenda's. However, I had planned in back to back meetings and where I had gaps I filled them with calls. This left me having a really busy week (not unusual) but with a lack of human contact and 'chit chat' it ended up being relentless. 

I ended the week with a strange type of tiredness that I'm not used to, but it was one of sitting for 5 long days looking at my laptop screen with the only human contact being my husband. 

As a result I've taken a different tack for week 2:

Food to keep me feeling good

Ryan Holmes (my culinary Director) has helped me pull together a shopping list (see at the end). Snacks are good during the day, but I'm starting my day off with an oat based breakfast to starve off any cravings for snacks until lunchtime. I've played to have a 'nice' lunch and eat away from my work rooms. 

I do graze so bought nuts and fruits a lot with plenty of herbal teas and sparkling water. 

Because my Hubby and myself are both in isolation, we've played to make a big deal of dinners, making it a bit of an event on an evening, something to look forward to. 

Breaks

Big learning on this subject. Because virtual meetings are more intense than face to face meetings, I needed more structured breaks, I've planned in 10 minutes every hour and a half. I've also planned in 30 minutes at lunch. 

I did start taking in some fresh air in the garden last week and this makes a huge difference. I'm planning tp pop outside in every 10 minute break and at lunchtime, a quick walk around the garden (stay away from neighbours if you're in isolation). In essence, getting away from it all for a few minutes regularly is needed. 

Work Methods 

The lack of human contact is really tough, in particular if you're like me and used to meeting people everyday, so I'm going to change a few meetings to video conferencing. I always get up and ready for business when I'm working from home and this does force me to put on some makeup and make a real effort, I find it makes me feel better!

Email traffic starts to increase as more people are working from home. I'm keen to try and keep this under control next week, being considerate of how many mails I send and to who. 

Moving rooms daily to create a change of scenery definitely helps, I started this last week by alternating my work room. When I worked at the dining table I always tidied everything away at the end of the day to ensure a good break. 

Hard cut off at the end of the day... It's too easy and tempting to let the day into the evening. Normally this wouldn't be an issue when I'm out and about during the day, but when I'm at a desk all day in front of my laptop, I've realised I need to break off. Another reason to plan dinner occasions every night. 

Exercise

Wow, sitting around for 5 days has been really difficult. I can already feel the toll on my body. I've therefore set up my bike on the curb trainer and dug out some of my old favourite online workouts to do in the lounge. 

Let people know if you're in isolation so they can take into consideration your slight changes to diary planning. They will also understand if you want to video conference instead (I just give them notice in can they too want to apply makeup!)

Here's Ryan's shopping list, key items:

Curly Kale - cook and dry out in in a very low oven. It's a great snack sprinkled in sea salt. 

Chickpeas - a versatile and underrated ingredient, they can be blitzed and made into falafels. Bake in the oven with some spices for a healthy snack. Don't forget the chickpea 'water' to make meringues - the list of possibilities is endless. 

Oats - a great start to the day. Use in warming porridge or serve cold as overnight oats. And if you're running low on milk, oat milk is so easy to make. 

Barley - less stodgy than arborio rice, it can be used in so many meals and is a great source of fibre.

Turmeric - helps to fight inflammation and can be sprinkled into all sorts of dishes. 

Tinned tomatoes - an obvious one, but a vital ingredient for so many dishes. 

Dried fruit - a great source of Vitamin C and a good way to get your 5 a day, when you can't top up with fresh fruit. Sultanas, apricots, figs and dates are all great ways to add sweetness and a twist to dishes. 

Beetroot - can be roasted, pickled, eaten raw or pureed. It lasts for ages in the fridge and is jam packed with essential nutrients. 

Peanut butter - buy an organic version, which is better for you and the pants. It's great on its own but can be used as a quick base for sauces, like satay and provide you with a variety of choices for dinner times.

Fish - its important to have a Regular dose of vitamin D and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Stock up the freezer and cupboards with tinned varieties.