An estimated 4.7 million Americans worked remotely in 2020, up from 3.9 million in 2015. People who used to report to an office were forced to work from home for their health and safety.
But even though staying at home protected people from the coronavirus pandemic, it also made many workers vulnerable to other health risks, including adverse psychological outcomes like insomnia, anxiety, depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress, and even suicide ideations. This is why you need to help your team practice wellness
Problems of Isolation and Mental Disorders
A recent survey of more than 2,000 employees from the U.S., UK, Australia, France, Germany, Singapore, and New Zealand gave a snapshot of the state of remote work. Forty-four percent of the respondents who are working from home said that their mental health has declined.
The results also revealed that first-time remote workers were 30 percent more likely to say that their mental health has declined compared to people who continued working in an office setting.
As a manager, part of your responsibilities would be to check up on your team and see if they are physically and mentally able to work and perform at the level expected of them.
It’s a challenging enough task under normal circumstances, but when you can only speak to your team through video chat, texts, and phone calls, it will be harder to give everyone the guidance and support they need.
Incorporate Wellness Into Your Company Culture
Here’s the thing: looking after your team’s mental wellness shouldn’t be a task. The best solution would be to make wellness a part of your company culture and solicit everybody’s active participation in ensuring their own and each other’s mental well-being.
Below are some tips on how managers and executives can help work-from-home employees avoid the repercussions of isolation and burnout.
1. Make wellness check-ins a part of your weekly online meetings.
These conversations don’t even have to be a formal meeting; a casual conversation is best when asking about your team’s welfare.
- How are their energy levels?
- Are they sleeping well?
- Is anything at home bothering them as they work?
- Do they feel well-adjusted from being office-based to home-based employees?
- Do they still feel connected to the team and the company?
- Are they happy as they work?
If people are giving you generic answers, try casually chatting with everyone, say hi, and just talk about non-work-related things five to ten minutes before your team meeting officially starts.
These small talks can reveal where people’s heads are at, like if they are feeling glum, concerned about things at home, or worried about work.
2. Show that you are sincerely concerned about your team’s well-being.
In a global survey conducted from March to April 2020, nearly 40 percent of over 2,700 respondents from 10 countries said their company hadn’t even asked how they were doing since the pandemic started.
The survey results also showed that these people who noted their company’s seeming lack of concern are 38 percent more likely to report that their mental health declined.
So how do you show that you care? Simply asking about your team’s well-being whenever you catch up as a group or individually can help convey your empathy.
Another way would be to make wellness updates mandatory, such as scheduling a 10-minute, one-on-one call each week with your team members where they can talk about any concerns with you.
But a word of caution: employees who are already feeling stressed and burned out may reject your efforts to reach out and find them annoying if you don’t draw a line.
One way to establish boundaries and not make them feel like you’re hovering is to end meetings on time. Invite them to talk, keep your doors open, but don’t force them in because that can only heighten feelings of anxiety.
Organize game sessions (or other activities your team unanimously enjoy doing).
Before the pandemic, your company would likely organize outings and activities for everyone to enjoy together and basically take a break from work.
You can still do the same without requiring people to meet up. You can organize online game tournaments or sponsor streaming for recently released movies on VOD platforms.
These activities can help bring everyone on the same mental plane. The camaraderie can uplift everyone’s spirits and make them feel less alone.
An article in Forbes.com cited isolation, together with burnout, as a cause for concern because of its potential impact on mental health. Loneliness, specifically chronic loneliness, is difficult to address when people can’t meet in person. Organizing fun activities is a good way to practice wellness and can help them break away from their mental isolation.
For all its advantages, remote work also demands a lot from team managers. Hopefully, these tips can lessen your load and give you ideas on how to lead your team to practice wellness.