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Remote working and mental health: Practical tips for tax season

14th Jan 2022
Brought to you by
tax cloud
Share this content

Whether forced by the pandemic, choice or circumstance, many of us relish working remotely. No more annoying colleagues or long, expensive commutes and you can be in when the boiler needs fixing (always handy).

But for some people, remote working isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A recent survey carried out by the Royal Society for Public Health showed that people who switched to remote working during COVID have not necessarily had an easy ride. Indeed, mental health and wellbeing was one thing that came up frequently, with 67% of people surveyed saying they feel less connected to those they work with. 46% also said they’ve been taking less exercise, with disturbed sleep coming in at 37%.

With tax season in full flow, accountants working from home may feel even more cut off, and mental health can soon deteriorate. It’s a stressful time, which is why we’ve put together these practical tips.

First off: Acknowledge how you're feeling

Tax season is incredibly stressful even at the best of times.

According to a study carried out in England by mental health charity Mind, 1 in 6 people will experience a common mental health problem in any given week (like depression and anxiety). So even in the smallest of accountancy firms, someone is probably struggling. And of course, during the busy tax season this could well be even higher.

Add to all this the many pressures that still come with COVID-19. One or more staff could be off ill or isolating for example which can slow things up.

Be kind to yourself. This time will pass.

Grab any support available with both hands

"As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others." - Audrey Hepburn.

Mental health struggles are becoming less and less taboo (thank goodness). Firms are becoming more and more aware of how important positive mental health is across the team. Many are also going above and beyond to provide extra support to anyone that needs it. So take it!

Flexible working hours, access to talking therapy, mindfulness groups and other talking assistance programmes may be offered. Even before the pandemic, these were commonplace in larger firms. But since the emergence of COVID-19, even the smallest of accountancy businesses are now investing time and effort into making sure their employees are fully supported.

If this is something you think you’d benefit from, it’s well worth seeing what your own firm provides. There are also many external mental health services you can turn to, which your GP can help you with.

Share the load

With the economy currently very fragile, businesses are fighting to survive. Many business owners will be turning to their accountants for advice about future planning, particularly around extra sources of income like R&D Tax Credits.

During tax season especially, it’s easy to slip into the roles of consultant, support worker, font of all knowledge and even a shoulder to cry on. But on top of your actual daily work, this additional stuff is a lot to take on.

If it’s all becoming a bit overwhelming, share the load with your team. Furthermore, try to strike a balance between offering the best service possible and taking the world on. Talk to your colleagues, because if you’re flagging under the pressure then they probably are too.

Even if you’re coping pretty well yourself, keep an eye out for other team members that are working ridiculously long hours or whose mood has changed. Maybe they seem quiet or withdrawn. If so, reach out with a quick message to see how they’re coping.

Stay connected

Working from home means many people can feel more isolated leading to poor mental health. Gone are the days when you nipped over to someone’s desk for a chat or had lunch (and the occasional rant) with your favourite colleague.

Humans are social creatures by nature and although some are more extrovert than others, staying in touch is still important. Now that things are opening up more post-Covid, make a concerted effort to meet up with people for coffee, or even just over Zoom. Also, pick up the phone and call your colleagues, rather than always simply emailing. You may also find hybrid working (a mix of home and office working) is a good practical solution.

If you’re feeling a little isolated, chances are you’re not alone. But recent advances in technology make staying connected easier than ever. Sometimes it’s just a case of remembering to do so.

Clearly define work and home life

Working remotely means that suddenly our home is also our office. This can make it really tempting to work much longer hours than you normally would, plus you’ve got kids, pets and other household duties to contend with too.

If you can, assign a particular room or area in your house that’s specifically for work. It can even be off-limits on evenings and weekends. The last thing you need is a constant reminder of work.

Make sure your laptop is put away at the end of a long day and try hard not to revisit it outside of office hours. This is easier said than done (we know) but drawing a line can make a huge difference to mental wellbeing. And let’s face it, it’ll all still be there in the morning.

Make a concerted effort to relax when you can

"There is more to life than increasing its speed." - Mahatma Gandhi

Whatever it is that helps you to switch off and relax in your spare time, do. Maybe it’s a day out with family, taking a brisk country walk or hitting the golf course. Sounds kind of trite, we know, but it really does work.

Simply by getting away from your desk you’ll recharge your mind ready for the next challenge (and tax season) that comes along.

This article was brought to you by Tax Cloud

Developed by the experts at Myriad Associates, Tax Cloud is a leading cloud-based portal that helps your clients achieve the R&D Tax Credit awards they deserve. Accessible 24/7 from any internet-connected device, simply follow the fully guided and supported steps to put together a claim that’s successful first time.

It’s the perfect way to quickly and easily extend the services you offer to clients - without the stress.

See the Tax Cloud portal for accountants today or call 020 7360 4437 for more information. You can also request a free demo, or drop us a message.