There is no denying that the past year has changed the working life for many people. Working from home has gone from the exception to the norm, with many organisations now looking to introduce hybrid office/remote working practices. I know many of those I talk to are hoping to retain an element of home working when all the restrictions are lifted.
This is one of the positive changes, but there have also been some negative ones. As we discussed in our previous article, research by Mind found that almost 20% of the UK adult population were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the pandemic, doubled from the figure the year before of just under 10%. (1)
Further to this, a report by the CIPD found that there has been an increase in stress-related absences in the past year. Working from home has is many benefits but there are also downsides. It can be isolating, hard to switch off and make some elements of the daily routine harder. All of which can be triggers for stress and other mental health-related issues. What can you as an employer do to help your employees?
- Check-in – working at home can be isolating. It is easy to spend all day in your own bubble, working away and not talking to anybody. While we’re still unable to meet in person, the technology available means that face-to-face (via a screen) interactions are possible.
Managers should set aside time to speak to their team, as a whole to help maintain that team spirit and use 1-2-1 sessions to gauge how each member is feeling. These give everyone a chance to discuss any issues they’re currently facing.
- Set expectations – with your office now in your house it is easy to let the boundaries slip. To start work earlier, finish later and skip lunch. It is, of course, also able to go the other way. Set expectations within your team, as to when everyone should be available and working and just as importantly when they aren’t expected to work.
It may be that people can start/finish earlier or later but everyone must be online and available between 11-3. Make it clear that it is ok to stop work and that emails aren’t expected to be answered after a specific time, or even better that they shouldn’t be sent of an evening or weekend. Find something that works for you and your team and ensure everyone is aware.
- Focus on wellbeing – there are small initiatives that can be put in place to help focus on wellbeing and attempt to alleviate stress. These can be activities such as organising online yoga sessions or wellbeing workshops or, setting aside a day/afternoon a week to be meeting free. Giving people the chance to catch up on emails or get important tasks done without interruptions. Simple things that can have a big impact.
- Lead by example – if you want your employees to look after themselves then the managers need to do the same. They need to not work all hours, take breaks and adhere to the rules they’ve set.