The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted most people, especially when it comes to working lives. Homeworking has become the new normal and many employees are enjoying their new routine. Research by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) found that 45% of people felt that working from home was better for their health and wellbeing. Remote working has removed daily commutes to the office, allowed many to save on costs and has provided improved flexibility in terms of work schedules.
For others, however, homeworking has made them feel overwhelmed, lonely, stressed and anxious. The same research also found that 29% of respondents thought that working from home was having a negative impact on their health and wellbeing.
As an employer you hold a duty of care to ensure the wellbeing of your employees. Struggling to find a healthy work life balance can put a huge strain on your employees’ mental health. Below, we’ve put together 5 steps that will help you to support your employees whilst working from home.
1) Set Boundaries
Encourage your employees to create a routine. For some, it could be a reflection of their office routine, such as logging on at 9:00am and logging off at 5:00pm. Others might create a routine that is flexible to their commitments and that will help them maintain productivity and output. Everyone should be reminded to take their designated breaks, even when at home. Why not have a no-calls hour each day or organise a virtual team coffee break?
2) Stay Connected
Relationships (even working ones) play a big part in our overall mental health and wellbeing, and therefore maintaining regular contact with colleagues is important. Even though this isn’t your team’s first lockdown and the restrictions are no longer new, it doesn’t make it any easier. It is still beneficial for you to connect with your employees and them with one another.
3) Take a Break
Sitting at a desk and looking at a screen for long periods of time is not only tiring for our minds, but our bodies too. A recent survey revealed that 81% of employees working remotely during lockdown had experienced back, neck, or shoulder pain. Regular breaks can help to alleviate fatigue in the body and to refresh our minds. Try to encourage your employees to take breaks away from all types of screens. Moving from a computer screen to browse on a phone is not an adequate break for our eyes or our focus. Taking a mindful two minutes, such as opening a window and taking some deep breaths of fresh air, going for a walk, or simply resting is much more effective.
4) Create a Designated Workspace
Having a designated working area can help put you and your team into a working mindset, increasing focus and productivity. Consider the following tips and share with your employees:
- If working in a common room of the home (for example the kitchen, dining room or living room), make sure an area is cleared to set up a workstation and remove distractions where possible. Separating between the home and work environment may be easier if a designated room for work is available, such as a spare bedroom or office.
- Ensure workstations are set up for ergonomic working and encourage good posture. Employers should assess homeworking setup and should make sure the correct equipment is provided in accordance with Display Screen Equipment (DSE) legal requirements.
- Clear away or tidy up work at the end of the day, for example putting away paperwork or organising the workstation. Logging off and shutting down PCs and laptops will replicate office routine and signifies the end of the working day and the start of personal time. If a designated room is used for work, close the door to the room when not working to set up a barrier between personal and working life.
5) Be Kind to Yourself
We can be our own worst critic and when we are having a bad day it is important to remember that one difficult day (or multiple) does not define what happens the next. There is nothing normal about the times we find ourselves in and it’s worth reminding yourself and your employees to do the following on the more challenging days:
- Eat well and staying hydrated.
- Take breaks and if possible, get some fresh air each day.
- Tell yourself that you are doing your best.
- Do something that you enjoy or makes you feel happy, such as spending time with family, reaching out to talk to a family member or friends, getting active or simply finding time to unwind.