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Mental Health implications of working from home

Mental Health implications of working from home

Much has been said about working from home, how to set up your workspace and that it could become the new norm for many people but how do you cope with this change in your working environment?

The good sides are that you no longer have to spend hours commuting to and from work. If you rely on public transport, late or cancelled trains or buses, or, if you drive, traffic jams which make you late, all go towards increasing your stress levels. At least that is all out of the picture.

But how does it feel to be working remotely when you are used to being in a shared office space with other people and being part of a team? Do you still feel part of that team or do you feel a little isolated? Are Zoom meetings as good as actually physically being in the same room as your colleagues?

Some people will take to the changes like a duck to water, others may struggle. It is more important than ever that communication channels between employers and employees are kept open and that no-one is left feeling that they are on their own.

Staff who have been furloughed can be particularly vulnerable to feelings of isolation, not being able to work when other colleagues are able to do so may lead to feelings of not being part of the team anymore. Although they are not allowed to work during the furlough period, maybe they could do some training which would make them feel included and look towards the future when the business is back on track and working to full capacity.

Looking long term, after this pandemic finally ceases and companies are looking at new ways of working, more people may be asked to work from home. Conversations are imperative to reassure those people that although they are not in the office their work is still as important and vital to the company and that their efforts will still be recognised and rewarded particularly if promotion prospects are in the picture.

Face to face meetings and team building days will play an important part in future times to bring together remote workers and looking after the health and wellbeing of everyone will be vitally important. But the most important thing is to keep talking to each other and not just about work. When you are in the office I would imagine at least some conversations are not work related but asking each other what we think about something, or about a television show that was on last night or generally just taking the time to ask “how are you?”. Pick up the phone and have a conversation with someone.

Some people will be more prone to stress and anxiety and they need to know the support is there from their colleagues and employer. Be open about this and encourage people who are struggling to talk about their issues, have in place Wellbeing Champions or an Employee Assistance scheme to help them. Plan for the teams to get together to discuss work, discuss how people are coping with the new arrangements and other activities which are non-work related.

Health and wellbeing are more important than ever and looking out for your employees and helping them adjust to a new way of working and ensuring they still feel an integral part of the business will help maintain their engagement and motivation.