To prevent the spread of COVID-19, most companies have taken to working from home quite seriously. As the pandemic worsens, people are facing extremely difficult circumstances and have come under tremendous pressure. Thus it has become increasingly important to consider the mental health consequences of the remote workers.
Concisely, there are two leading causes of mental health risks.
Isolation: Although organizations have allowed their employees to work from home, but many are still unfamiliar with the correct policies they must take. The sudden shift from the conventional office life to working from home, as a result of the social distancing procedure is challenging to get accustomed to. As a result, they might face some mental health challenges. Even scientifically, social isolation is said to be bad for the mental health of remote workers.
Burnout: Employees who work from home feel a constant pressure to work for extended hours. They are compelled to prove that they can be productive while working from home. Workload, time frames and the never-ending requests from the managers seem to be a standard practice in most of the companies.
In the process, remote workers have to sacrifice their work-life balance and slowly run out of fuel. On the other hand, it causes higher stress levels, fear and a decrease in productivity. The situation further deteoriates with the absence of a corporate wellness program which encourages employees to take up a healthy lifestyle.
In this time of anxiety and uncertainty, boosting the mental health of remote workers should be a priority for all employers. Here are a few pieces of advice for you to help protect and manage your remote workers’ mental health.
Few Tips To Boost The Mental Health Of Remote Workers
1. Provide Optimum Information And Guidance
One of the main things that an employer should do is to provide remote workers with all the required information and valuable knowledge. It includes everything from specific guidelines on what working procedures are in effect to all the other improvements taking place around the company and its resources.
It will help them know what’s in place, encourage a clear understanding and can make a big difference in employee morale.
2. Encourage Breaks
It is, of course, hard for remote workers to take breaks when they have a heavy workload. And if you as the employer can’t stop adding to their plates, your employees will suffer and easily fall into unhealthy habits. Thus, it is a good idea to encourage them to take small breaks away from the computer throughout the day. To ensure this point, you must set realistic timelines and achievable goals for your remote employees.
3. Emphasize On Inclusion Through Interaction And Connection
Make daily interactions a priority for all remote workers in your company. Not a single employee should be left out in your remote community. All credits to technology that we can use a number of approaches to make remote employees feel included.
One can make use of the different apps like Slack, Google Hangouts, Skype and others where your workers can have a space for discussions daily. You can encourage them to be socially active as well, by sharing the latest news and even what’s for lunch. Weekly or monthly staff meetings via video conferencing can also help your remote workers forge connections from the comfort of their homes.
4. Provide Access To Mental Health Services
Mental health issues have a stigma around the world. Many remote workers who have such symptoms of mental illness don’t want to talk about it openly. The solution is to give them assistance and support with anonymous mental health programs that they can access anytime.
One right way to do so is by telemedicine with mental health resources included. It includes safe and online counselling of remote people with mental issues, providing access to confidential professional support.
You can also consider an Employee Assistance Program which can help your business and remote workers deal with a variety of issues, including mental health services.
However, it is not just the employers’ duty to support the wellbeing and mental health of remote workers.
Download Our Complete Guide on Corporate Wellness Program For Giving Your Employees a Better Workplace Experience
Here are a few tips for the remote workers to stay mentally healthy while getting the job done.
1. Set Your Routine
It is highly recommended that remote workers create routines. Get up from the bed on time, get dressed and start your day as per the routine. Stick yourself to a schedule (like say, you will work from 9 am to 2 pm and then 4 pm to 6 pm or whatever timings work for you.) Doing it will easily carve out your ‘me time’ which you can use to do anything you like to.
Well clearly, when you are in a social distancing mode or isolation, you have limited things to do in hand. But it’s the best time to find out what interests you when you are alone. You might try building a new body, find the bookworm in you, or you might just become a social butterfly- on the phone.
The creative list is endless. The choice is yours!
2. Create A Clean Home Office Work Environment
Cluttered spaces hurt the mental health of remote workers. It decreases the ability to focus, making them feel helpless and unproductive. It also negatively influences the person’s way of interaction, making them less agreeable and more neurotic.
To deal with it, get rid of the furniture and the other homely items around your workspace. Clean it up before things pile up because that’s where stress comes in from. Make it a part of your daily routine as this is how you can give yourself some mental space. This tip will ensure you feel more productivity all day long.
3. Have A Suitable Video Call Date
Talking to a loved one can instantly boost up your mental health. Especially during the isolation period, seeing them on video platforms can make you feel much less alone.
Most of us talk to our partners, friends and families. But have you realised yet that your work colleague feels as lonely as you do? A social connection among co-workers is a priority in remote working.
The power of a quality face to face time with them can boost the mood and beat the stress in no time. Try it!
4. Learn To Say ‘No.’
Know your limitations and set your boundaries. Take up only that number of work that you can be able to complete within the time frame given. Don’t push yourself beyond your capabilities. However, be responsible and courteous, and your team will respect you.
5. Get Up And Move!
Work from home is the best opportunity to say goodbye to the sedentary lifestyle. Get up off your chair as it’s time to get your heart pumping. Take a walk, do some yoga or any other exercise that improves your physical health. By doing these, you will see your depression and anxiety levels coming down in no time.
6. Avoid Excessive Use Of Social Media To Replace The Real Conversations
Using less social media than you normally would lead to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness.
Studies show that social media like Facebook and Instagram are not suitable for a person’s mental health. High use of these platforms correlates with unhappiness. Thus, using them excessively while working from home or in feelings of isolation can bring you emotional disadvantages. So make sure that you control your social media presence and do something else to fight isolation and loneliness.
If you have got more tips on boosting mental health of remote workers, feel free to share in the comments section below!