Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two years, you’ll know that rates of remote working have shot up since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Statista, the number of US employees working from home for five days or more per week increased from 17% to 44% in the first half of 2020.
Although the pandemic is starting to slow down in many parts of the world, the home working trend shows no sign of stopping. Seduced by the appeal of a commute-free workday with fewer distractions, many employees hope to continue working remotely for at least a few days per week. For employers, this shift in attitudes presents the opportunity to downsize their office spaces, save money, and enjoy the benefits of a more productive workforce.
Remote working isn’t problem-free, however. Survey data suggests that 54% of homeworkers feel overly stressed during the workday, while 29% struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Fortunately, it is possible to help employees tackle feelings of depression and anxiety while working from home. Here’s a quick guide to understanding mental health issues associated with home working and supporting your remote teams.
Why does remote working present challenges to mental wellbeing?
Common mental health issues amongst homeworkers include:
1. Isolation and loneliness
Although office coworkers can be distracting (and sometimes a little annoying), working without the lively buzz of an office can feel isolating. Workers who live on their own are particularly prone to feelings of loneliness that Zoom meetings and emails are unlikely to remedy. Left unaddressed, this separation from friends and colleagues can lead to serious depression, anxiety, and dejectedness.
2. Anxiety and burnout
Many homeworkers find it difficult to separate their home lives from their professional lives. Accustomed to working and relaxing in the same domestic space, employees may be tempted to squeeze in a few more hours of work in the evening.
While this may seem like a smart way for the employee to further their career and help your business thrive, it is likely to cause burnout. Symptoms of burnout include exhaustion, low mood, and a lack of motivation.
When homeworkers feel isolated, low, and stuck in their role, they may become depressed. Without the energizing and empowering atmosphere of an office, staff members may feel like they’re not achieving what they want out of life. They may experience depressive symptoms such as:
Unwillingness to socialize with friends
Loss of interest in activities that once brought joy
Physical discomforts such as aches and pains
Helping your employees overcome mental health issues
It is in your best interests as an employer to help workers overcome mental health issues. As well as fulfilling an ethical duty, it will ensure that your employees remain motivated and productive. Thriving companies are happy companies, after all.
So, where should you begin? Here are our top tips for building an effective mental health strategy:
1. Provide opportunities for learning and growth
Ambitious employees tend to be motivated by prospects such as professional development, promotion, and salary increases. As such, you need to demonstrate that you will support them on their career paths through learning and growth opportunities.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is by investing in an online learning management system (LMS) such as Coursy. Coursy allows users to create personalized learning plans guaranteed to teach employees valuable new skills.
If that weren’t enough, the platform allows users to learn at their own pace – great for remote workers who love the flexibility of organizing their own timetables.
2. Discourage excessive overtime
While working a few extra hours is often necessary for completing urgent projects and satisfying VIP clients, excessive overtime can be hugely damaging to a person’s mental and physical health. Remind employees of the importance of sticking to a schedule and separating work life from home life.
If you’re worried about workers burning themselves out, you could circulate an example of a healthy work timetable. Scheduling breaks and a couple of screen-free hours will prevent fatigue and ensure that workers stay focused throughout the day.
3. Remind employees of the need for a comfortable office
A poor office setup can cause a whole host of physical and mental health issues. At the very least, your employees need a comfortable chair, a wide desk, and a few home comforts to ensure their mental and physical needs are met. If you have the resources, you may choose to provide employees with office equipment.
4. Help employees get fit and healthy
Sitting down for long periods is associated with a range of physical problems such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and even early death. What’s more, lack of exercise can detrimentally affect a person’s mental health.
To help your employees remain fit and happy while working from home, why not provide them with incentives to get moving? You could offer employee gym discounts or invest in exercise apps. You could even add a competitive element by offering prizes and rewards for reaching fitness goals.
5. Provide opportunities for socializing
Help employees get to know each other by organizing social events. If staff members live relatively near one another, you could book a table at a local restaurant or organize a trip to a bowling alley. Alternatively, you could keep things online with a Zoom party or virtual quiz. Get creative and encourage everyone to get involved!
6. Listen to employees
Employees know their own needs and goals better than anyone else, so remember to check-in and ask how they’re doing. Listening to employee feedback about your mental health strategy will help you refine your offerings and ensure your workers feel supported.
The way we work has fundamentally changed. It’s time for your business to change becasue the future of the learning is digital. Learn more about Coursy LMS.