In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, companies are continuing to work from home. What many people thought might of been a few weeks has now turned into the foreseeable future.
This means lots of us are dealing with an unusual challenge of working from home for the first time, full-time. While there are many opportunities and immediate health benefits to avoiding our workplaces during this pandemic, employers must consider the challenges and mental health consequences that can come with working remotely. As employees face new challenges everyday, it has become clear that they may need support in some unexpected areas.
Our daily interactions are shown to reinforce our sense of well-being and belonging in a community. As people are being encouraged to stay at home as much as possible the impact of isolation should not be underestimated. HR experts need to ask themselves, is the loss of in-person contact affecting problem solving, team building or communication in the workplace? A top priority should be to maintain relationships with co-workers. This will be both critical to performance as well as emotional and mental wellness. To reduce the feeling of isolation, companies should be working on their communication by encouraging online gathering practices like ‘coffee breaks’ and ‘Zoom catch ups’.
Burnout is real! It is an official medical condition and can become a problem for many people who are working remotely. Many think that by removing employees from a workplace, they are less likely to suffer from this. However a 2019 survey by Digital Ocean found that 82% of remote tech workers in the U.S. felt burnt out, with 52% reporting that they work longer hours than those in the office, and 40% feeling as though they needed to contribute more than their in-office colleagues.
The lines between our personal and professional life are blurring so employers need to make sure they can advise their employees how to avoid overworking and burning out. Steps to avoiding burnout include creating a dedicated place in your home to work if possible, take regular breaks including exercise and social interaction and lastly turn off all email notifications outside of your office hours. Employees need to separate their home life from their work life so they should act as if they are physically leaving the office at the end of the day – this kind of normalcy is needed.
As our weeks at home are turning into months, employees may be noticing new aches and pains that they did not experience at the office. That is because many companies fit their office spaces with ergonomic furniture and resources. It’s likely employees are now either using their computer on a regular table, a kitchen countertop, a sofa or even a bed. Wherever they may be, chances are they aren’t in a healthy posture. HR leaders need to provide employees with accurate information on ergonomic resources. As not all companies are in the position to provide actual ergonomic equipment, it is important to at least provide information to help guide them. Simple step by step document with tips like viewing your computer screen with a straight neck, putting your screen sideways to a bright window and sitting back in your chair with your feet on the floor.
Employee wellness checks
The wellbeing of your employees is a top priority during this crisis. A question leadership teams need to ask is ‘how can we help employees handle stress?’ Everyone processes stress differently. Some people will need more assistance and help than others so businesses need to make sure that they have the information and tools available to help. If you do not have the resources within your company to help your employees, identify health and mental health resources in your community and provide employees with a list. Leaders should be encouraged to create wellbeing programmes and urge people to practice self care. The first steps to self care involves reducing stress which is a step by step process. And step by step is key, it does not involve anything groundbreaking. It can be hard to think of the big picture but by making a schedule and following a step by step plan employees will feel more motivated. This allows any task to become more manageable and achievable.
At home productivity
For those employees who are not used to working at home, distractions can disrupt their productivity. After all, many of us are now working in our personal space and not our usual professional environment. It can take some time getting used to the new challenges that might now arise. Leaders need to ask themself are first time home based workers getting the support they need to stay productive? Employers should create spaces where they can share tips and guidelines to help employees stay engaged and productive. Here are some work from home tips you can share with your employees to help guide them to a more productive workplace at home.
Adapting to the new normal
A silver lining of the sitatuion we all find oursleves in is the unexpected ability of many companies to adapt so quickly to the physical and mental health needs of its workforce. This is a tough and uncertain time for everyone so these above unexpected areas must be a priorty for employers.
If you are looking for more information on how to support your employees or build employee engagement you can reach out to the team at Jobbio.
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