Many employees in the coming weeks may experience unanticipated mental health consequences from mandated remote work, and it is important to be cognizant of this reality. Two causes for concern are isolation and burnout. Remote work is a common trend in many industries today, especially tech and business services; many are already familiar with how the solitude of working remotely can impact mental health. For those who are accustomed to and appreciative of conventional “office life” and a steady rate of social interactions at the office, the shift to remote work as a result of social distancing procedure during the Covid-19 pandemic might cause a surprising, even if relatively mild, deterioration of mental health.
COVID-19 has affected working conditions drastically shifting work from offices to homes for an indefinite period of time. For some, the transition from office to work was easy, while for some it has become a roller-coaster ride of emotions, as they juggle their time between family and work. Not all remote workers can maintain their productivity levels at their work-from-office levels. This could be due to a lack of amenities like fast internet connections and quick interactions with team members or the inevitable distractions at home. While no one knows how the future will unfold, most employers are still evaluating the impact of remote work on employee performance to some extent. Some employers are so happy with the productivity of their employees that they are shutting offices down and turning to permanent work-from-home arrangements. Others are unhappy and feel that there’s a drop in productivity when employees are working from home.
What can businesses do now, to support employee’s health and wellness?
However, failure to acknowledge an employee’s mental health can hurt productivity, professional relationships, and have considerable long lasting effects
Professional support needs to get better. Employers need to be more flexible, sensitive and open-minded just as they would for injured employees or those going on parental leave.
This might seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few ideas that you can implement quickly to support your teams, and in turn, support your business:
1. Health and productivity can and must coexist
To imply that there should be a binary choice between health and productivity is facile and misleading.
Far from being a niche or outdated opinion, this thinking is representative of a significant proportion of business leaders around the world.
2.Provide support to enhance employees’ wellbeing
Frequency of communication is important when it comes to assessing and supporting the employee’s mental health. Social isolation has real consequences on the mental health of the employees. The poor mental state has a huge impact on employee productivity.
The provision of additional resources such as mental health discussions and counseling from an expert will help provide sufficient support to enhance an employee’s well-being.
3. Provide Stress-Relief Techniques
Stress is people’s biggest enemy. It can deteriorate physical, mental, and emotional health. The negative impact of remote work result in stress, which has no boundaries. For that reason, you should offer your team some stress-relief techniques. The techniques should target both body and mind. Mix it up and create “an anti-stress movement.” Here are a few ideas you can adopt:
- Start online morning meditation sessions
- Get employees access mindfulness and meditation apps
- Set “physical activity hour” once a week when you exercise together online
- Provide links to free yoga programs, stretching videos, or dance sessions
4.Use of technology to bridge the communication gap
The role of technology is vital in improving the remote working experience for both the employee and the employer. Virtual collaboration and communication tools are essential for a successful remote working strategy. Collaboration tools such as Slack, Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, and file-sharing tools like Dropbox. Google Drive can be deployed by the organization to facilitate effective communication between the team members. Project Management tools like Basecamp, Asana, Monday.com help to facilitate clear communication of the tasks and deliverables between the team members.
Last but not least, it’s important to remind your team to use their paid time off. Remote workers need to re-energize and rest to remain motivated and productive. It can be too easy for remote workers to go months without stepping away from their home offices and taking a break. Even just a single day off, disconnected from their screens and email, can do wonders for mental health, wellbeing, and productivity. So, don’t forget to often remind your team it’s okay to use their PTO. And, of course, it’s important for you to use it as well.