So, this is a bit of a different collaboration; through my work as Kickstart Project Coordinator for St Oswald’s Hospice, I underwent training in Microsoft Teams by Lara Mellor Training. The training got me thinking a lot about the importance of technology and it’s new place in our lives since lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic…

The popular misconception of me:

One of the biggest misconceptions I’ve experienced in blogging has been that so many people – readers, friends, family, and collaboration partners etc – believe that to be a blogger I must automatically be good with technology and working on a computer!

Most of you will probably know that when I first started blogging, the greatest knowledge I really had of technology was where the on and off button were for different devices (I have iPhones, iPads, and a laptop!). It meant that in the early days of I’m NOT Disordered, the entire design was completely down to one of the other psychiatric inpatients in the hospital I had been admitted to.

Finding power and control in technology:

Initially, relying on the other inpatient wasn’t a huge stress or challenge because I was so passionate about the writing/blogging that I really didn’t care much about the aesthetics of it. Then, the staff started discussing discharging the other inpatient before me and I was kind of hit with a sudden realisation that I really needed to learn things for myself so that I was able to continue I’m NOT Disordered without having to lean on someone else who may become more and more difficult to communicate with since she lived so far away.

Learning about the design process for I’m NOT Disordered was actually really empowering and it left me feeling in control – something which I usually struggle with. I also became more able to accept any positive feedback on my blog because I felt more responsible for the entirety of it.

5 Other Ways Technology Has Helped My Mental Health:

1)    I find writing/blogging cathartic as a means to release my thoughts and feelings

2)    It has connected me with so many supportive, like-minded people

3)    It’s a great way to record memories of happy, safe, and positive occasions

4)    It provides the opportunity to raise awareness of the issues I’m most passionate about

5)    It allows me to use creative aspects of technology e.g., blog topics/images therapeutically

How lockdown has changed technology for me:

I’ve always been grateful for technology – which should be obvious and understandable considering the number of ways it has helped my mental health – but that has definitely increased because of lockdown. This has mostly been because I’ve felt like technology has really enabled myself and others to be able to do things that we may have lost the chance to still do because of lockdown and because so many people are being advised or instructed, to work from home.

This has obviously been very beneficial in my role with St Oswald’s Hospice, particularly in that it’s meant still having the ability to meet with my Manager and other staff who have been instrumental in the responsibilities involved in my job. I think that having the ability to see a person on some sort of video chat platform like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, can be really helpful in reassuring you that you’re actually not as isolated and lonely as you may feel when working from home. It’s something which is actually not just helpful for your mental health, but also practically as it will keep you – even if it’s just a little bit – accustomed to working on a team, which can be an important skill for you to have in your employment.

I also get the feeling that as technology becomes more and more essential for so many people in all different careers, it’s improving the attitude of some people who were once so convinced that it was nothing but negative. I mean, all of the media stories about online bullying/trolling and the devastating impact it can have, as well as instances of breaches in data; are bound to cause people anxiety around technology and in particular social media.

Lara’s thoughts on the coronavirus pandemic and technology:

Covid has changed the world forever. Many are still working from home, and some will never return to the office, or only on a part time basis. This has required major changes in the use of technology and how people communicate.

Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and other video conferencing tools have become an integral part in the working day of many staff and the support network of colleagues when tech doesn’t work or you can’t get a file to do what you want just isn’t there in the same way for many. Many of these problems would be solved over a cuppa or an overheard remark would lead to a solution from a colleague who had come across the issue before. This is much harder when you are working remotely. 

Top 5 Technology Tips When Working from Home by Lara Mellor:

1)    Be aware of what is going on around you if you are attending an online meeting. If there is random noise, then this can be distracting for others but also consider visually what others are seeing. Is it appropriate and do you want to share it with others?

2)    Take regular breaks. Staring at a screen all day in meetings is far more intense than the same meetings face to face. Microsoft have developed a specific view called together mode which is designed to help. It has a consistent background behind the meeting attendees which is proven to reduce zoom and teams’ fatigue.

3)    Consider whether the meeting needs to take place via video conferencing. Could a phone call work just as well on occasions? The lack of visuals is much less tiring so worth thinking about when appropriate.

4)    Run training sessions for your teams. By giving them the skills to do their job effectively they will be far more productive. Being away from the office the call across the desk of “can you just have a look at this” doesn’t happen. An employee is far less likely to pick up the phone, send an email or set up a meeting to sort out those little niggles. So, time is wasted, and employees can become frustrated. I don’t think it can be underestimated just how much knowledge is shared in an office without even realising it.

5)    Having the right kit. Imagine a builder trying to build without their tools. That is what some home workers are dealing with. When the pandemic started working with the laptop from home on the kitchen table seemed OK. But a year down the line people are having all sorts of issues sitting on an unsupportive chair for hours on end or with the screen at the wrong height. Even working with a computer that is so slow it takes ages to get even the simplest of tasks done. It is important for employers to make sure their employees have the right equipment to do their job.

More about Lara:

As a Microsoft Trainer I can help you utilise the Microsoft Teams Meeting features to help your online meetings run smoothly or use the collaborative side of the software to communicate and share files easily. I can teach your staff new features in Word or Excel to work more efficiently or run one to one session to tackle specific problems that an individual is having. If you would like to find out more send an email to lara@laramellortraining.co.uk to arrange a free, no obligation chat to discuss your requirements further or sign up to my newsletter for loads more handy hints and tips https://www.laramellortraining.co.uk/sign-up-to-newsletter.





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