Taking Care of Your Staff When Home and The Workplace Merge

Taking Care of Your Staff When Home and The Workplace Merge

This Saturday (10/10/2020) is World Mental Health Day and so we at the Virtual Training Team feel it is time to talk about remote working and the impact that it can have on our mental health. 

World Mental Health Day is observed on the 10th of October around the world every year and has the overall goal of raising awareness of mental health issues globally and bolster support for good mental health. 

Over the past few months, the world was required to shift to remote home-working in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While the immediate health benefits are obvious regarding the constantly evolving status of the pandemic, it is also important to truly consider the mental health complications that can come with working remotely. 

It is important to be aware of the mental health risks of remote working.

For employees who were previously accustomed to ‘office life’ and a steady routine of social interactions within the workplace, the shift to remote work as a result of social distancing can cause a surprising, even if mostly minor, deterioration of mental health. 

It is incredibly important to check in with your colleagues regularly and be aware of this potential deterioration. According to a study on fear and silence around mental health, the charity MIND reports;

    • More than 21% of employees agreed that they had called in sick to avoid work stress
    • 14% agreed that they had resigned and 42% had considered resigning due to work stress
    • 30% disagreed with the statement “I would feel able to talk openly with my line manager if I was feeling stressed”
    • 56% of employers have said they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing.

How to stay mentally safe when working remotely

Here are three ways you can help your employees manage their mental health whilst working remotely.

Encourage boundaries

Because of the way that work has invaded our home spaces, it can be tougher now to get away and ensure there is a distinction between work and home life. Many of us are grateful to still have a job at the moment, but it remains equally important to find ways to separate work from the rest of our day. 

Encouraging employees to turn off their laptops at the end of the work day and put them away if they can, can be tremendously helpful. Also, helping colleagues to establish a steady routine, ending their work at a predictable time so that they can create that much needed divide between work and home. There can be the temptation for employees to work over their hours, when working from home. This can start to have implications on mental health too, so help them to determine where their boundaries are, and to stick to them.

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Cultivate Positivity

Employees’ frame of mind can also have a big impact on their mental health. This isn’t to say that everyone needs to feel happy every day; everyone has down days. But it is important to help employees avoid marinating in too much bad news and to help lift them back up in a positive way.

Think about introducing mindfulness approaches like meditation or grounding techniques, or simply cultivating honest and open communication where required. Times are tough right now, and it is our duty as remote colleagues to look after one another.

Important Things to Remember While Working in Lockdown

Stay present

It can be easy for the adage “out of sight, out of mind” to become applicable during these times, but it shouldn’t.

Managers should spend time encouraging colleagues to stay connected, both formally and informally, which can be a huge advantage for mental health. Find new ways to encourage employees to report the work they are doing, and share the outcomes they are creating. 

Many of the virtual platforms we are all using today come with chat functions, so help employees to feel the value in the work they are doing. It might not be automatic for some, so help them to find their value. In doing this, their mental health will be positively affected.

The upending of our lives and work during this pandemic has been tough, and working remotely has been correlated with the rise in mental health issues, but there are ways to help each other cope and continue to shine through adversity. 

Opening up communication with colleagues and ensuring that everyone has a safe platform in which to talk honestly about how they are feeling is key. As business leaders, it is our duty to our colleagues to ensure that during this challenging time, everyone feels adequately supported.

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