Many of us are adapting to a ‘new normal’, where our regular routine of going to the office to work is no longer a thing. Instead, we’ve commandeered our dining rooms tables, kids’ bedrooms and other spaces to continue working from our homes.
Because of COVID-19, this trend is set to continue. And while much of the focus has been around physical health and economic activity, a huge area of concern has opened around managing mental health amid the pandemic.
There’s no question about it, people’s mental health is going to be taxed throughout this crisis – and this includes your own. In this blog post, we share our strategies for helping you and your team process this new way of working.
Follow reputable sources and advice
Stick to regional authorities for the appropriate healthcare help and advice as we navigate our way through this crisis. This is important because there is a great deal of misinformation, speculation and conjecture that can make it difficult to communicate accurate and timely information about situation with COVID-19.
Encourage your team to share regular communications from these sources, and these sources only to avoid misinformation spreading.
At Medius, we operate in numerous countries including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Poland, US, Australia, and the UK. We’d recommend identifying who your local authorities are to disseminate the appropriate information.
Communication is key
Keeping in touch with your team is important when you manage people working from home. If possible, try to have daily communications with your staff, as you would ordinarily do so in an office environment.
It is important to balance this comms strategy but not being too overbearing. You don’t want the communications with your staff to feel like you’re watching over them. Therefore, try to keep topics conversational and not just work-focused.
Ask your staff how they feel about things and be honest and sincere in your approach. It’s OK to acknowledge the uncertainty around things, such as Coronavirus or if you don’t know about something going on internally in the business. If there’s something you don’t have answer to but know where to get one, be prepared to get this answer and report back to your employee.
Make sure you don’t neglect the opportunity to talk to your line manager about your own concerns, and also, sharing concerns of the wider team.
Remember, everybody is different
The person you’re managing is a human being just like you, and while they might not demonstrate the classic signs of struggling with their mental health, it’s important to remember that just because they’re not talking about it, doesn’t mean they’re struggling.
Some find solace in their work and throwing themselves into it when they’re struggling. For others, work becomes a burden. Try to figure out which one applies to your staff and help them through their issues. If it is a case of wanting more tasks to continue being distracted, find something that your employee will really value.
If you need to ease up on your employee’s workload, talk to them about it and what you can do to help.
Consider that certain people are more at risk of suffering from mental health issues
The WHO, in this article, highlights the disparities in different groups of people. For instance, women are twice as likely to suffer unipolar depression compared to men. However, medical professionals are more likely to diagnose depression in women than men, notwithstanding the larger number of women afflicted by depression.
As well as gender, some ethnic minorities are more at risk of suffering from mental health conditions, particularly those from the Asian and Black communities according to information on the Mental Health Foundation.
Mentalhealth.org.uk has a detailed breakdown of the typical mental health challenges faced by ethnic minorities in the UK. If a member of your team is part from the BAME community, try to consider their mental health while working from home, and encourage them, if appropriate, to discuss how they feel with you.
In addition, pay attention to those that haven’t experienced mental health issues, to the best of your knowledge. The situation we’re in right now poses unique challenges that might trigger mental health problems and you need to be attentive to it, so you can help your staff as and when they may need it.
Make sure everyone knows where they can get support if they need it
Ensuring that remote workers know where they can support if they need it is key. Whether you’re comfortable having a conversation with your employee in the initial instance, or if you have resources internally to confidentially discuss their issues, ensure you signpost them to the right place.
In addition to resources you may have at work, there’s a whole range of services available to help people struggling with mental health issues, and we’ve listed a few here:
- Mind – a leading mental health charity, Mind has a host of resources to help people with a large range
- Mental Health Foundation – an organisation dedicated to preventing mental health issues from taking hold in the first place, they have a range of useful resources.
Use technology as much as you can
Technology is an invaluable tool for employees as they work from home, so, try to take advantage of it as much as you can. Use video calling to stay in touch with colleagues, to replicate those conversations you’d normally have in and around the break room.
Arrange coffee mornings where work-related stuff is left at the door, and instead, you sit around and chat about non-work-related topics. This could be an opportunity to ask remote workers how they’re feeling in general and how they’re coping with things on a day-to-day basis.
In addition to video calls, staying in touch with colleagues over email and instant messaging platforms such as Teams, Slack and others are useful ways to check in on how your staff are feeling.
Encourage personal planning and self-care
Get your team to think about how they’ll cope when in self-isolation during quarantine. Do they have the necessary support networks to keep essential foods and medicine stocked? Do they have the necessary details to call in sick? Does your member of staff have family and friends that can help if they run into trouble?
How are you managing your remote worker’s mental health?
How are you looking after your remote worker’s mental health? Have you got any insight to share? Or tips we’ve missed off? Let us know on our Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.