Remote working may well have been a goal for many before COVID-19. However, few could have predicted just how widespread this would end up being when lockdown was put in place. Far from a planned, steady switch to flexible working, the transition was instant and rushed and this is left many people struggling. Remote working presents some significant challenges for any organisation, particularly in an environment where many employees still have very relevant concerns about their health, the future of their careers and juggling other responsibilities in their life.
What are the challenges where remote working is concerned?
A recent survey found that those who work from home frequently suffer from burnout because they are working longer hours than they might in the office. Many felt that working from home meant that there was an expectation that they would be required to contribute more than they might when in an office environment. Isolation has been a big problem for many teams and some have found that collaboration has suffered as a result of there being no regular face-to-face contact. The working from home lifestyle also has a number of challenges for those who are not used to it, including a more sedentary lifestyle as a result of work and life taking place in the same environment and the impact that this can have on everything, from fitness to sleep. In the current climate there have also been challenges around balancing commitments to children who are off school as well as the generalised anxiety that many feel about the future. All of these are likely to have an impact on the mental health of your staff, whether this is visible or not.
How can you accommodate the current situation?
• Focusing on connection. When employees start to feel the lack of connection they can become disengaged and unmotivated and may feel isolated. There are lots of ways that employers can help to avoid this situation, including using video conferencing platforms such as Zoom for meetings and social events.
• Encouraging staff to shift to a new lifestyle. It’s essential to create new healthy habits for those who want to get the most out of working from home life. This could be something as simple as introducing a new exercise plan or ensuring that employees are leaving their homes and getting some fresh air every day. It may be putting new hygiene practices in place so that people feel better protected. There’s a lot you can do as an employer to help staff create a new routine that will prioritise mental health as well as work.
• Making sure that your people have the right resources. This is particularly important when it comes to home hygiene – we sell a range of products that staff can use to help keep working areas clean and virus free and this can create a positive state of mind.
Remote working and lockdown have certainty been challenging for almost all of us. However, some simple shifts can help to ensure that mental health is being protected and prioritised.