Remote working and mental health – supporting your staff
With government instructions to stay home, millions of UK workers have had their usual routines disrupted, with an inevitable impact on their mental health. Employers have a role to play in ensuring their health and safety while working at home.
Guidance that employers can give on working at home is listed below.
Make sure they understand their employment and benefits rights
Worrying about money issues can have a big impact on mental health. Have a conversation with your employee about sick pay and benefits rights.
Advise staying in touch with friends, family and work colleagues while they are at home – by phone, messaging, video calls or online
“Being away from their normal work environment will result in your team members not having access to their regular support network,” says wellbeing expert Health Assured. “This can make your team members feel isolated, as they have no one to turn to if they have an issue.
“Combat this by regularly and informally checking in on your remote workers via phone, web chat or video call. Ask them how they are coping with their workload or if they are experiencing any issues with working from home.
“It‘s important to note that these check-ins should be made to assess the wellbeing of your team members and to offer any support. Don’t use them as an opportunity to chase work or add unnecessary pressure.”
Encourage employees to talk about their concerns with friends or colleagues
It is quite common to feel worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Talking about it could help and clearing up any work concerns could lead to greater productivity.
Advise looking after their physical health
Our physical health really affects how we feel. As well as eating well – which we may not do now we’re out of our normal routines – encourage some form of exercise too. For example, getting outside for a walk or a run, or trying a home-workout video.
Employees should limit the time spent on updates on Coronavirus
Staying glued to updates on the Coronavirus can lead to worrying about the situation and a lack of concentration on the job at hand!
Advise taking some time to do things they enjoy and relax
“A common issue that remote workers find is that they struggle to separate work and home life and as a result, work longer hours and risk becoming burnt out,” advises Health Assured.
“Studies have shown that remote workers are online more and work longer hours than on-site staff. This could be because they don’t want to give the impression they are avoiding their responsibilities.
“Avoid this from affecting your employees by making it clear that you don’t expect them to work longer than they would in the workplace and that they should stick to their normal work schedule.”
Encourage employees to stick to daily routines
If they are working from home, employees should try to get up and get ready in the same way as normal, keep to the same hours they would normally work and stick to the same sleeping schedule. Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how we feel, so it's important to get enough. It’s important to maintain a regular sleeping pattern and stick to good sleep practices.
For employees with mental health concerns, there is further NHS guidance on looking after yourself at home at https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-staying-at-home-tips/