Mental Health and Remote Work.
This week, and certainly in coming weeks, most companies including some of the largest in the UK will be requiring employees to work from home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. While the immediate health benefits of avoiding common workspaces are obvious in the face of a frightening pandemic, it is important to consider the Mental Health consequences that can come with working remotely.
The Mental Health Risks of Remote Work -
Many employees in the coming weeks may experience mental health consequences from remote work, and it is important to be aware of this reality. Two causes for concern are isolation and burnout. Remote work is a common trend in many industries today, especially tech and business services; many are already familiar with how the solitude of working remotely can impact Mental Health. For those who are accustomed to conventional “office life” and a steady rate of social interactions at the office, the shift to remote work as a result of social distancing procedure during the COVID-19 pandemic might cause a surprising, even if relatively mild, deterioration of Mental Health.
Our daily interactions reinforce our sense of well-being and belonging in a community; and with cities and towns in the UK on lockdown millions are being forced to not only work from home, but stay at home, as bars, restaurants, and events are closed. Even in “normal” times, the impact of loneliness and isolation should not be understated.
Loneliness is most risky when it is chronic, which, for many who live alone, could become a temporary reality as more and more people are encouraged to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic.
A top priority is the need to maintain relationships with co-workers and managers. This is critical not only for work performance, but for emotional and mental wellness.
Technology can serve as a boost to aid in this communication and there are plenty of existing examples to prove it.
Many sectors already maintain a sizable remote workforce even when not enforcing social distancing.
To alleviate feelings of isolation, some companies encourage setting ‘virtual coffee breaks'
Some companies also dedicated a specific “water cooler” channel to encourage break-time chatter.
Many methods to encourage interaction should be thoughtfully implemented until employees are able to safely return to the office.
Employees that are new to remote work should keep this in mind, as they may feel compelled to work longer hours and prove that they can be productive from home – especially with less “extracurricular” post-work options. Furthermore, during the COVID-19 pandemic, lines between personal and work life will blur even for professionals that are used to working from home as schools close, meaning children will be home and working parents might struggle to separate responsibilities.
To support your Mental Health while protecting you and your family’s physical health during this pandemic, take initiative in maintaining wellbeing within a home workspace.
1. This includes creating a comfortable and private place in your home to work.
2. Incorporating exercise breaks and social interaction into your routine.
3. Turning off email notifications before and after working hours.
3. Maintaining a normal sleep schedule.
This will help maintain a feeling of normality.
Adapting to the New Normal Way of Life.
Remote work has been a rising trend for several years, and the COVID-19 pandemic will reveal the opportunities and challenges of working from home for many companies that may not have considered it an option; Including us all at Action Training.
One silver lining of the COVID-19 situation may be that it demonstrates the unexpected ability of many organisations to adapt quickly to the Physical and Mental Health needs of its workforce.
One thing for sure is that in this time of uncertainty and anxiety, workplace mental health, now at home or the office, must be a priority for employers.
Stay safe and remember we are all in this together.
Action Training & Consultancy Services Ltd www.actiontraining.co.uk
24th March 2020