Aimee O'Leary
Written by
Aimee O'Leary

By now we are all aware of the devastating effects of Covid-19. We got two of our experts to give us their top advice on how to support your own, and others, mental health during these challenging times, including:

  • How to support employee mental health while working remotely
  • Adapting to the changing workplace and prioritising your mental health

How to support employee mental health while working remotely

David McCormack, Hive360

As the impact of coronavirus takes hold, stress for the UK’s workforce is at an all-time high, with concerns over job security and personal finances escalating, and those who can, working in isolation from home in line with the government’s social distancing instructions. Many employees may find it difficult to suddenly adapt to working in their home space. It can be an unsettling time and cause high levels of stress and anxiety. Here are four ways to support the mental health of remote workers:

 

  1. Keep in touch
    The need for clear communication is more important now than ever. Make a point of checking in with your staff regularly and ask how they are coping with the change of routine. Use video calls to communicate where possible as this provides a greater level of social interaction than an email or message, which is particularly important for employees who are having little interaction with the outside world and those who live alone. The constant stream of news and social media updates about coronavirus can be anxiety-inducing, so use your video calls to ask employees how they are feeling and listen to any concerns they may have. This doesn’t mean you have to provide all the answers – it simply shows you are there to help and that you value their wellbeing and contribution to the business. It is also important to ensure you keep your employees informed about the impact coronavirus may be having on the business, and any changes that are taking place as a result.
  2. Encourage work:life balance
    When an employee’s home becomes their work environment, it can be easy for their work: life balance to be negatively affected. Poor work:life balance reduces productivity and can lead to stress and mental health problems. Build-in positive steps towards work:life balance to your staff mental health and wellbeing strategies; encourage staff to work sensible hours, take full lunch breaks and get outside for fresh air and exercise once a day.
  3. Suggest a functional routine
    Encourage your employees to establish and maintain a healthy daily routine that puts them in the right mindset to work as they would do in the office. Getting up at the time they usually would for work may give them the opportunity to exercise or prepare a healthy breakfast that will set them up for the day.There’s a really easy and useful technique that might be worth employing to help you team stay focused and productive called the Pomodoro technique, which involves working in bursts of productivity with short periods of inactivity in between. This can be an effective method to use when working in a home environment where there might be more distractions.Setting small goals and targets for employees is a good way to maintain levels of motivation, but ensure these are realistic and achievable. Remain mindful that they are navigating a new working environment and tasks may take them slightly longer to complete than usual.
  4. Prepare to be flexible
    Some employees will prefer to work according to a set schedule, with regular conference calls and virtual meetings throughout the day. Others will require a more flexible or agile approach, particularly those juggling the homeschooling of children, or caring for a sick relative. Offering the ‘hidden workforce’ support with flexible and agile working is key, as is ensuring they have the right tech too – our survey revealed 60% of workers who care for someone with a disability or an illness admit that poor workplace technology has a negative effect on their work:life balance.Let your employees know you understand everyone’s personal situation is different and that you’ll do your best to accommodate it. Remind people of their worth as an employee, and the positive attributes they bring to the team. After all, people are every company’s most valuable asset.

For more information, visit: www.hive360.com , read ideas, tips and information to help businesses maintain employee engagement during the Coronavirus pandemic here, and read and download the People at the Heart research report.

Adapt to the changing workplace

Emma Bridger, Peoplelab

The change we’re currently going though at work is off the scale, like nothing we’ve ever experienced before. For those people working from home, it’s not just working from home, it’s working from home in a crisis. And, of course, there are many people who are not working from home, but working in incredibly stressful, front line environments. And, there are those who, very abruptly, are no longer working at all.

There’s no magic bullet when it comes to adapting to the change you find yourself going through. But if there is one thing you do, start by focusing on yourself and practice some self-care. If you look after yourself and your wellbeing first, you’ll be in a much better place to support colleagues or family around you. Here are some practical things you can do:

  • Limit your daily intake of news to once or twice a day
  • And balance the negative news stories with a daily intake of good news stories, they are out there
  • Make a ‘playlist’ of things which make you smile and lift your mood and make time for them
  • Try to reframe your reality e.g. rather than say ‘I’m stuck at home’ reframe this to say ‘I’m safe at home’
  • Create a new habit of writing down 3 daily gratitudes
  • Now is the time to explore mindfulness if you haven’t before, focusing on the present
  • And finally, use this time as an opportunity to reflect on your best experiences at work and what you can learn from them. Consider how you can use these insights as we move into the ‘new normal’ to get what you want out of your life at work.

For more information, visit: https://peoplelab.co.uk/ or contact Emma at [email protected]. Book on to one of their wellbeing lunches here.