It’s good to listen – The Mental Health effects of Remote Working

Anytime, anywhere - The Modern Workplace Blog
It's more important than ever for businesses to be supporting their workers' mental health. Here's how you can help.

It’s been almost a month now since the government first issued its stay at home policy on March 23rd, and with it set to continue until May 7th at the earliest, it’s understandable if a bit of cabin fever is starting to set in.

But even if you’ve settled into a new routine, have routes mapped out for your daily exercise and have perfected the art of keeping the kids entertained while simultaneously working from home, it’s vital for you to take care of your mental health.

As well as feelings of boredom or frustration, wider worries about the future and keeping friends and family safe are natural at times like these. Indeed, issues such as anxiety, stress and depression are all expected to rise during the lockdown – and the longer it goes on, the more people may feel these.

Keeping connected

While it’s essential for all of us to take steps to keep our spirits up and protect our mental health, it’s not something any of us should have to deal with alone. And people’s employers have an ideal opportunity to step up and use the tools they have in place to keep their workforce connected. 

Technologies like video conference meetings and instant messages aren’t just about keeping productivity high. They offer a much more personal connection with coworkers and allow people to check in and find out how others are coping.

You can arrange for a regular ‘pulse check’ to get people’s thoughts – either on a one-on-one basis or in groups. It may be best to use a combination of these, as an individual chat may allow people to feel more comfortable opening up, whereas a group conference call can go some way to recreating the office socialisation we’re all missing right now.

Don’t just listen – adapt to mental health issues

It’s all very well offering an ear, but if you want to show your employees that their thoughts and opinions really matter, you need to respond in the right way and adapt how you do things. 

Some people might benefit from a formalised approach, such as creating a wellness action plan they can follow, while for others, an occasional informal chat will be more welcome. It pays to listen to the individual needs of employees and make adjustments – there’s no one-size-fits-all answer that’s right for everyone.

If your business has adopted remote working for the first time in response to the coronavirus pandemic, you can’t expect to have everything running perfectly the first time. There’s likely to be an element of trial and error involved, so don’t be afraid to mix things up in order to meet the needs of your workforce.

For example, find out how remote working is affecting your team’s work-life balance. If there is a laptop on hand at all times, are people more tempted to check in on their emails outside of working hours? Are they making sure they’re taking an adequate lunch break? You may be able to help with any issues such as these by enacting new policies or flexible working practices to help ensure people are still taking time for themselves.

We may be in the middle of an unprecedented health crisis, but by taking the time to keep connected with friends and colleagues, you can help ensure people’s mental health is well-looked after throughout.

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