HR, Thought Leaders

How to Support Employees’ Mental Health and Wellness During Remote Work

September 18, 2020

by Scott McDougall

Co-Founder, The Independent Pharmacy

As the coronavirus crisis continues to take hold around the world, the impact of the lockdown is starting to show. Restrictions on movement and seeing loved ones puts immense strain on employees, compounded by the uncertainty with regard to their own financial situation.

Consequently, it’s up to employers to do what they can to support their staff. Read on for a few ways you can achieve this during the lockdown.

How to Support Your Team Members:

Check-in with your staff regularly
Keep employees informed and up-to-date
Provide employees with everything they need to work remotely
Set realistic expectations for your employees

Check-In With Your Staff Regularly

One of the biggest issues with remote working is that it can leave some employees feeling disengaged from the rest of the team. Without the regular social interaction that many of us take for granted in the office, those who work from home can feel distanced from their colleagues.

This is only compounded by coronavirus restrictions. When a team works from home, everyone can start to feel disengaged too.

Consequently, it’s worth it to create opportunities for video chats with all your staff. Virtual drinks after work, lunchtime clubs, and so on are all great opportunities to catch up with your employees beyond work.

For those staff members who are reluctant to attend these hangouts, take a moment to talk to them socially in a mandatory work-related meeting instead. Alternatively, schedule one-on-ones with individuals to check-in and make sure they are handling the situation as best they can.

Keep Employees Informed and Up-To-Date

For many employees, one of the biggest fears they might have about coronavirus, beyond the virus itself, is whether or not the crisis will impact their jobs.

For those businesses that are lucky enough to still be operating, it’s important to keep your staff informed as to the future of the business as well as provide predictions for the days, weeks, and months to come.

Consequently, it’s important that businesses have open lines of communication to keep their staff informed, regarding both their employment situation and an overall picture too. Building a dedicated intranet page for your business that covers everything your staff needs to know is a great place to start.

Use a wide range of sources to provide a more well-rounded resource. Start with official government and medical organizations, such as USA.gov or the WHO. The latter even has a number of downloadable resources you can use for your own internal communications to staff.

Some of these resources even include ways for the staff members to protect themselves and others.

Protect Yourself and Others From Getting Sick

Source

These infographics are both informative and supportive because they help relay what is in your staff members’ control during a time when reality seems out of control.

But make sure to use other expert resources as well for specialist insight into the pandemic. The coronavirus advice from The Independent Pharmacy, for instance, offers a pharmaceutical angle on the latest coronavirus news.

In the same vein, offer insight into the situation in relation to your industry. As well as keeping staff informed, it also shows employees that you are staying abreast of the situation, assuaging their fears as a result.

Provide Employees With Everything They Need to Work Remotely

Working from home is quite different from working in the office. While an office is designed to be worked in like an office, homes are not. And while many employees might be happy working on the sofa with a laptop on their knees, it can lead to repetitive strain injury and wrist troubles over time.

Consequently, it’s up to employers to ensure that their staff has everything they need to work properly from home.

The most basic elements include essentials such as a desk, chair, monitor, and so on. But also include things such as backrests for chairs, cushioned mouse mats, and so on.

Beyond this, make sure your team members are working in an optimum space, as in the example below:

How to Set Up Your Desk for Productivity and Ergonomics 
Source

While not all of these things are possible to achieve — warmer environments, natural light, etc. — striving to ensure your staff has as many of these as possible will help support their mental health while they work from home.

Encourage each head of your teams to liaise with their colleagues and identify any pieces of equipment that they need in order to work. Either pick up the appropriate equipment from the office yourself or order it online and have it delivered to your employees’ houses.

A positive workspace does wonders for health, both mental and physical.

Set Realistic Expectations for Your Employees

Due to the uncertain financial situation caused by the coronavirus, your business might be under pressure to continue to deliver or even exceed expectations. With an uncertain future for many industries, it is tempting to let that pressure trickle down onto your employees.

But this simply isn’t realistic. Employees are anxious, stressed, and may find it difficult to concentrate as a result of the crisis. This is compounded by the stress of working at home, often juggling kids or other commitments at the same time.

Consequently, set realistic expectations for your employees. Don’t expect them to be as productive as they before the pandemic (at least while they get settled) and allow for flexible working hours to accommodate this. This will allow them to build a routine that works for them and their new remote working situation.

If you’re under pressure to cut costs, consider dialing back other business requirements instead. Unnecessary subscriptions to software, office rental packages, gym memberships, and other expenses should all be evaluated and, where appropriate, canceled to save costs.

Make Your Employees’ Mental Health a Priority 

As an employer, you have a responsibility toward your staff and their wellbeing, especially during a crisis like this. 

The tips above are just a few ways that you can help keep your employees even-keeled at this time.

But you know your team better than anyone, so you know how best to approach and care for them too.
 

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