While there are undeniably benefits to working from home, it can also have drawbacks on mental health.
Aside from feeling alone and isolated, stress and anxiety can build as a result of overwork or burnout. This is happening a lot right now: the pandemic has blurred the line between home and work, which means a lot of people are inclined to put in more hours as they don’t have a clear ‘switch off’ time. They’re also worried about proving they are being productive when their leader can’t see them working in front of them.
With this in mind, it’s important for employees to set boundaries for themselves, manage their own expectations, and not feel obliged to put in overtime just to show how much work they’re doing. Managers can help by making it clear they don’t expect their teams to work additional hours, acknowledging their hard work, encouraging self-care, and keeping communication frequent and supportive.
Maintain the bonds of remote teams with great communication
The key to keeping teams engaged and feeling supported is consistent communication.
Just stay in touch. Create opportunities for team members to check in with each other, whether that’s with scheduled meetings, fun virtual activities (for example, trivia nights) or informal catch-up video calls. All of these let people know their colleagues and their leader are there for them and their needs.
Managers should also ask employees how they want to be contacted. Email? Phone calls? Video chat? They should be guided by what their team members want as much as is appropriate, and not assume everyone is okay with one particular method of communication.
How Assure can help improve the psychological environment of different workplaces
With a team of psychologists, Assure helps employers create a psychologically healthy environment for their employees. A key factor here is to encourage behaviour where staff are looking after their own mental health and wellbeing. This includes reinforcing the need for self-care and staying active with regular movement and exercise.
Companies can offer employees online workshops and wellbeing programs set up especially for them, and give them the opportunity to present their own if they want to, as well.
Additionally, employees feel far happier in the workplace when they are recognised for their work. However, when working remotely it’s harder to track and observe this and sometimes people wonder if their leader knows how much they’re doing. With this in mind, leaders should make an effort to check on their team’s performance and acknowledge it. Rewarding their team’s hard work is a great bonus, but simply validating hard work will go a long way.
Advice for managing employees’ mental health
Early signs of declining mental wellbeing and burnout include:
- Poor sleep
- Change in appetite
- Low mood
Employees should be aware of these signs and be able to put up their hand and ask for help when they notice them.
Employers can support employees who ask for help by working with them to set appropriate boundaries, firm working schedules (including things like turning off email notifications after a certain time and so on) and adequate breaks.
Leaders also need to encourage them to look after themselves in ways that best promote positive emotional wellbeing. For some, this is spending time with family and friends, and looking after their physical health. For others it’s meditating, or devoting time to hobbies and interests. Whatever it is, it’s important to devote time to the things outside of work that make us happy.
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