FEA associate member Citation, an HR and health and safety specialist, is aiming to help businesses and employees working from home temporarily during the national coronavirus lockdown.
The service provider has produced a list of top tips for maintaining mental health when home working. It prefaced these top five tips by saying:
“It can be difficult for employees to adapt to a new work style if they’re used to a high level of interaction with their team every day. If a typical working day involves a bustling office atmosphere, calling consumers/clients or attending meetings, the new working from home policy can take its toll on employee’s mental health and wellbeing as this drastic change can cause a feeling of isolation.
“A 2019 report on the State of Remote Work by Buffer details that 49% of remote workers note that their biggest struggle is wellness-related. More specifically, 22% can’t unplug after work, 19% feel lonely and 8% can’t stay motivated. These figures are only expected to surge following the Coronavirus pandemic resulting in thousands of employees instructed to work from home.
“Jumping from a public work environment to the confined space of your own home can affect everyone. It’s really important for you to look at ways to make sure your people are still happy, productive and motivated under the circumstances.”
Therefore, for businesses aiming to ensure the mental health and wellbeing of employees, Citation’s top five tips are:
1. Keep in contact
These could be daily, every other day or weekly phone calls or even video calls. The idea is that you can continually assess workflow, set new tasks and check on your employee’s wellbeing. Working from home might be causing unforeseen issues for an employee, so it’s important to get feedback where you can. It also opens up the opportunity to discuss topics that aren’t work-related – catching up on plans for the weekend, asking after their family, discussing the news etc. You’d usually have these types of conversations in passing, over lunch or in brief meetings so it’s important to maintain this level of socialising where you can.
2. Promote a healthy work-life balance
While you may worry that some employees may take working from home as an opportunity to take it a little easier, in reality, many will feel pressure to work harder, or longer hours, in order to prove they aren’t.
As an employer you need to balance keeping productivity up alongside encouraging people to keep taking breaks. When working from home it can be very easy to feel tempted to stay at your laptop throughout your lunch or extend the end of the day by a few hours.
Be sure to encourage staff to work their contracted hours and don’t stretch their working day into home life simply because they’re working from home. As with everything, balance is key.
3. Schedule regular team meetings
We live in a more connected world than ever, so when it comes to keeping the whole team connected, technology is truly on your side. Try to keep team meetings and catch-ups scheduled in your diaries but use online programmes like Skype or GoToMeeting as your way to connect.
This has a twofold effect: first it remains the consistency of the normal working week, and that’s going to make keeping your business running easier than if regular meetings suddenly dropped out of the diary. Secondly, it helps to replicate the ‘buzz’ of the normal work environment, helping people connect and socialise.
4. Look at collaborative tools and platforms
There are plenty of tools that allow employees to interact with one another such as asana, zoom, Basecamp, Trello, Flock to name a few. These are online collaboration tools so everyone can keep track of where tasks are up to and who they’re assigned to. Employees can often feel like they’re on an island so by having the ability to surround themselves with colleagues through these inherently social collaboration forums, can boost productivity and morale.
5. Provide mental health training and resources
It’s important that your employees know that you support them so by communicating this to them can really benefit their wellbeing. Our Employee Assistance Programme, created in collaboration with BUPA, gives employees unlimited access to phone support from qualified counsellors so they can discuss anything they need to.
Practical advice such as money management, landlord disputes, divorce and parenting is available. And there’s also trained counsellors on hand to provide fully confidential advice on mental health and wellbeing, providing the perfect way to access help from qualified professionals while staying at home, based on the huge changes to our working lives that Covid-19 presents us all.